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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.

Law Libraries and Digital Information

In an interview in the Connecticut Law Tribune, Darcy Kirk, associate dean for library and technology and professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, addresses some of the potential dangers of digital-only legal information.

She outlines a number of concerns:

  • A concern that the information won’t be permanently available as technology changes. “If the government agency or court doesn’t plan before the current format goes out of use, we could lose the ability to access those publications.”
  • A concern that a government agency or a court, publishing online, might decide on its own what to delete. “Then, all of a sudden you don’t have it online and you don’t have it in print, either.”
  • A concern about the Google Book project because “Google is a for-profit entity. We’re not. Google is interested in things that might ultimately make them some money.”

These are not exactly problems of digital vs. paper; they are issues of control. When government agencies, courts, and the private sector insist on controlling what is online and what is not, libraries have no control over what is available. The simple solution is for libraries to build their own digital collections. This allows libraries to treat the information as a community resource and empowers the library to manage that information as a community resource and maintain that resource to match the needs of the community.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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