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Government of Canada Publications – it’s about access, not format

[Editor’s note: my Canadian colleague Amanda Wakaruk, government information librarian at the University of Alberta asked me to post the following. Please direct questions and/or interest in partnership to her at amanda.wakaruk AT ualberta DOT ca. JRJ]

On Friday the Depository Services Program of Canada (DSP) announced that, by 2014, it would, “no longer be producing, printing, or warehousing hard copies of publications.” (The announcement was distributed on INFODEP, a list for depository libraries, and appended to this post). The Library of Parliament will stop distributing paper publications with the end of September’s session. Library and Archives Canada will stop obtaining Government of Canada (GOC) publications in print format by 2014. Many GOC agencies have moved exclusively to born digital publishing.

For those of us on the privileged side of the digital divide, the main problem with the transition to digital is not format, it’s the absence of any comprehensive GOC policy on digital integrity, preservation, and long-term access. To make matters worse, the intellectual organization and capital of the GOC information landscape is increasingly fractured through policy decisions including, but not limited to, government cutbacks.

For example, Statistics Canada moved away from the DSP’s e-archive to mount their own. Implementation of the Common Look and Feel for the Internet website standard removed countless publications in pdf and also access to several databases (including library catalogues) from GOC web sites – it’s unlikely that many of these were captured by the DSP or other e-archive services.

Federal departmental libraries have been in quiet decline for years. CISTI was decimated (70% budget cut), multiple libraries closed (most recently HRSDC), staff reductions have touched practically every agency, and I’ve been told that librarians are being replaced with less-expensive and precariously employed support staff. As an academic librarian, I’ve lost a good portion of an important referral network of experienced, knowledgeable colleagues. And, because of this, my clients – who are important assessors of our governing bodies – are underserved.

Transitions like this one require an influx of professional knowledge and action. At the moment, this means starting a discussion to establish a Canadian federal government LOCKSS PLN similar to the USDOCS LOCKSS PLN partnership between the US GPO and academic institutions.

Let me know if you are interested in partnering on this project. Better yet, attend the CLA Government Information Network meeting in Ottawa (May 31) – it will be on the agenda.

Amanda Wakaruk, MLIS, MES
Government Information Librarian
Liaison Librarian, British History
Humanities and Social Sciences Library
University of Alberta

From: infodep@lists.canada.gc.ca On Behalf Of Publications
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2012 12:33 PM
Subject: infodep DSP Important Notice/PSD Avis important

Notification of Deficit Reduction Action Plan Implications for PWGSC’s Depository Services Program

Dear Sir or Madam,

Further to the 2012 Budget, tabled on March 29, 2012, this is to advise you of a decision that affects the business relationship between Public Works and Government Services Canada Publishing and Depository Services Program, and your organization.

As part of the Deficit Reduction Action Plan, the decision has been made to completely transition all publications published by the Publishing Program
and publications provided by departments to the Depository Services Program from traditional print to exclusively electronic publications. This aligns with the Government of Canada’s greening government initiatives. This also aligns directly with Canadians’ increasing access to electronic information and use of e-publications. Recent statistics from publications.gc.ca show a significant increase in the number of unique visitors to the site which was close to 2.2 Million and the number of downloads close to 10 Million annually. The resulting demand for paper publications has greatly declined. This decline is expected to continue as the trend towards the use of the Internet to access publications increases. By fully transitioning to free web-based
publications we will eliminate the costs associated with producing, printing, distributing and warehousing hard copies.

In 2014, Publishing and Depository Services will no longer be producing, printing, or warehousing hard copies of publications. However the Depository Services Program will continue to provide access to Government of Canada publications through publications.gc.ca. Other services under the Publishing and Depository Services Program remain as they are.

Please be assured of our utmost co-operation in limiting the impact of this decision on your operations and in continuing to offer a high-quality service.

Thank you for your understanding and continued co-operation.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to communicate with us at: publications@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca.

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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