Hot off the presses and in time for the holidays, Ithaka S+R has just released its study on the FDLP in the 21st century: “Documents for a Digital Democracy: A Model for the Federal Depository Library Program in the 21st Century”. Look for our analysis soon. We’d love to hear what others think of the report, so please feel free to leave comments.
The Issues Identified
Participating libraries in the FDLP, like many libraries, contend with a rapidly changing environment for information dissemination, access, and usage. The Program, while building infrastructure to adapt to the digital environment, has not addressed the core strategic dilemmas associated with this new environment:
- Many federal depository libraries no longer have the right incentives to remain in the Program, which may threaten the preservation of and access to the historical print collections.
- The historical collections are dramatically underutilized in relation to their potential value.
- Newly released digital government information is not adequately preserved.
- Discovery systems do not effectively serve user needs for seamless and immediate access.
Without substantial structural change, the FDLP risks sliding further into irrelevance and the general public’s need for sustainable, no fee, permanent access to government information will be increasingly threatened.
Following a thorough examination of the Program’s current state, this report suggests a vision for the program: seamless, no fee access to government information for a range of potential users at their point of need and appropriate preservation of this material for future generations. To achieve such a vision, the FDLP community must address five key goals:
- Newly issued government information must be made freely available in digital form and must be preserved for the long-term.
- To provide this permanent public access for the historical collection, a significant program of retrospective digitization is required.
- Print will play a significantly reduced role for access by users to the historical collections, so some original print copies must continue to be preserved even though fewer depository library collections overall will be required.
- The print format will continue to have advantages for certain subsets of material types and user communities, so the Program must provide appropriate access to certain historical and new materials in print form, where appropriate via print on demand.
- Depository libraries must reemphasize their commitment to serving user needs for outreach, discovery, and access.