The Government Printing Office (GPO) has decided to gut the federal depository library program. For 150+ years, the federal government has been legislatively mandated to distribute *at no cost* information produced by the federal government to a distributed system of libraries (called the Federal Depository Library Program or FDLP) so that citizens will have access to that information and therefore be better able to participate in our democratic system. The GPO has been in charge of that distribution system. They have decided that, starting October 1, 2005, they will only distribute the titles on their Essential Titles List. Anything else and libraries will now have to pay. Oh, they’re setting up a print on demand (POD) allowance ($500/yr for selective depositories and $1500/yr for regional depositories). However, that will barely make a dent. Take for example UCSD. We’re a selective depository, but we receive thousands of titles in paper besides what’s on the essential titles list.
Those that like this plan for it’s budget-saving will argue that many govt titles are now online so we don’t NEED paper. However, there are many issues yet to be resolved before a robust system of online govt information is attained — namely, authentication, permanent public access and preservation! Not to mention that there’s still this little thing called the digital divide. What about all those citizens who don’t have computers or access to the internet?
So, please, please, please write your representatives and tell them that GPO’s plan is a very bad idea! See the links below for more information, talking points, and contacts to whom to send your letter.
GPOs plan, which has not been approved by Congress, represents a major disruption to the FDLPs role of ensuring no-fee, permanent access to government information for the American public. GPO has not yet established a reliable system ensuring delivery, version control, authenticity, permanent public access and preservation of government information products they disseminate and make available online. Until such a system is fully functional and GPO can ensure permanent, no-fee and ready public access to electronic government information, GPO should not gut its print distribution program.