Recently, GladysAnn Wells and Richard Pearce-Moses of the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records presented From Bibliographer to Curator: Archival Strategies for Capturing Web Publications at the August 2005 IFLA Conference in Oslo Norway.
This paper is a ringing call to action to libraries and archives across the globe to take a leading role in preserving government information. To those who say that we don’t have the capabilities or we have to wait for outside agencies and webmasters to save us, Wells and Pearce-Moses say [bolding mine]:
A fundamental tenet of the work we have done in Arizona, through our three professions, has led to what is now called the Arizona Model. The Arizona Model, which will be discussed later in this paper, recognizes that our success cannot be predicated on someone outside our own organization. We cannot expect web masters (or others) to send us documents, to remember our job when they are caught up doing their own. We cannot expect them to embed metadata to empower us to serve users they may never meet or report
to in any real time manner. We cannot hope for them to provide us unfettered access to their systems. If they do any of these things, all for the better; but we will not presume that we will get their cooperation. In a nutshell, we cannot discipline someone who is not doing something if they do not work for us. And, in reality it is not their job; it is our job. But we can empower them through education and patience to be our partners or at least keep them from being even our passive adversaries.
Although they are speaking primarily about state government information, I think vision should be applied to federal information. Their remarks are particularly timely at a time when the Government Printing Office seems unwilling to spell out how their new Future Digital System FDSys will guarantee no-fee permanent, public access to federal documents.
The way ahead is hard, and no one library can do it all. But we need to try and preserve the pieces we care about.
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