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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

41 Days to Government Information Liberation

1. Recognize the importance of librarians and their institutions in the sustainability of a dynamic civic culture.

I was looking through an ancient artifact this afternoon called “An information agenda for the 1980s: a summary report”. All this blog chatter about flickr projects in the Library of Congress, and innovative proposals from Carl Malamud, kind of made me nostalgic for “library big thinking” before the rise of the computing machine. This report is one of those dreadnoughts of library research that went on to frame much of the policy and research challenges of the early 1990s. It describes 101 specific projects that can help frame the research and understanding of how libraries must change in the crazy days of technological and economic revolution of the early 1980s.

It is very interesting reading, especially when reads the summary of the research topics with the eye of how far we have come, and how little we haven’t.

Throughout the report there is an aching need to understand how and why our communities use our bibliographic institutions. There are early stabs at trying to frame the potential impacts of multimedia and digital transmissions on what the authors term the “knowledge gap” in society (which they define through education mostly, and not the income lens of today’s (information have and have nots”.) Many of the proposed research topics also examine the economic implications of a “knowledge economy” and possible future roles libraries might play in economic and social contexts where they might compete with other community information distributors.

Just the post card from the past to remind us how much the technology has changed, but how little the fundamental human aspects of our business remain as elusive as they were 25 years ago.

Perhaps we should ask those who participated in the research to come back to the table and reflect on what remains of their effort — much like the Miller Center of Public Affairs does for important public policy and legal issues — such as climate change, the American President, and the National War Powers Commission. Perhaps they could do it digitally?

The point being, I suppose, that if we don’t remember, as a profession, what we suggest or recommend from one decade to another, than we are doomed to repetitive cycles that cover the same ground again and again.

See you Day 40.

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