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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.

34 Days to Government Information Liberation

2. Seek to establish the most effective techniques individual bibliographic institutions can contribute to a national system of government information access, preservation and organization.

The 1990s represent some of the best and brightest efforts of advocacy, thinking and study about the future prospects of government information services in libraries — here are some of the highlights (by no means complete; I will try to fill in more of the missing pieces in my subsequent posts)

Coming on the heels of OTA’s Informing the Nation report, government information librarians were ready and willing to weigh in on the future of the federal depository library program in particular, and the role of libraries in the civic machinery of federal government information.

The decade began with a set of principles from the American Library Associations Governemnt Documents Roundtable — published in Documents to the People, v.19:1 (March 1991):12, 14.

Soon after, a separate group of libraries came together around the issue and formed a coalition called the Dupont Circle Group, which issued its own set of principles, hosted a national conference, and made some specific recommendations on who the depository library program might change.

A year or so later, another loose affiliation of library groups came together with their own recommendations. The Coalition of Many Associations Framework debated many of the points rasied by the Dupont Circle effort, and issued its own report — “Enhanced Library Access and Dissemination of Federal Government Information: A Framework for Future Discussion.” Working Document endorsed by the American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, Special Libraries Association, 1995. American Association of Law Libraries Newsletter 27, no. 1 (September 1995): 14-15.

Not to be left out of the picture, the Depository Library Council issued its own statement on the challenges ahead — Depository Library Council to the Public Printer (U.S.). “Alternatives for Restructuring the Depository Library Program: A Report to the Superintendent of Documents and the Public Printer from the Depository Library Council.” September 1993. Administrative Notes 16, no. 16 (December 5, 1995): 23-59.

But wait — there’s more. ALA devoted significant chunks of its 1995 midwinter and summer conference to the issues — and issued a report: * “Model for ‘New Universe’ of Federal Information Access and Dissemination: Preliminary Results of Forum on Government Information Policy, July 20-21, 1995, Sponsored by American Library Association.” ALAWON, ALA Washington Office Newsline 4, no. 77 (August 9, 1995).

But then, the National Commission on Library and Information Science considered the problem, and issued its own set of principles, following work they did back in 1990.

GPO weighed into the fray — and issued its own considerations — “Report to the Congress: Study to Identify Measures Necessary for a Successful Transition to a More Electronic Federal Depository Library Program as required by Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 1996. Public Law 104-53.” Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. June 1996.

But wait there is more …

In 1996-7, GPO issued to other strategic documents — “Study to Identify Measures Necessary for a Successful Transition to a More Electronic Federal Depository Library Program” and THE ELECTRONIC FEDERAL DEPOSITORY LIBRARY PROGRAM: TRANSITION PLAN, FY 1996 – FY 1998

Finally, and again — remember I am only touching on the highlights of ten years here — NCLIS returned to the problem and issued its own massive report on the problem of public information in a digital age following on a large-scale national effort during 1999-2000: A COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF PUBLIC INFORMATION DISSEMINATION FINAL REPORT — JANUARY 26, 2001

I am tired just thinking about how many brain cells we killed during these ten years trying to get a handle on the future of government information in a digital age. In reviewing this good work, I am reminded of the phrase — those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it. Let’s not close out this decade with another series of reports or studies — lets do something about it.

I will get back to this exciting decade tomorrow — after some rest.

See you Day 33

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