Home » Commentary » ALA draft resolutions dealing with govt documents. Tell your ALA Councilor to support #ALA2013

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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.

ALA draft resolutions dealing with govt documents. Tell your ALA Councilor to support #ALA2013

There are several draft ALA resolutions having to do with government information kicking around ALA 2013 annual conference. While there’s still a way to go before these resolutions are passed by ALA Council, I thought folks might be interested enough in these to grab their nearest ALA Councilor and tell them to vote for these resolutions in support of free government information, open government and transparency. They’re important to both libraries AND the public!!

I’ve heard that the Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT) has 2 resolutions dealing with Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and the importance of whistleblowers to open government and the democratic process. But I haven’t yet seen the text for these two.

We at FGI have been working on one with “GODORT mother” Bernadine Abbott Hoduski, Al Kagan (SRRT) and a couple of others titled “Resolution on Digitization of U.S. Government Documents.” It comes out of our discussion and white paper “Wait! Don’t Digitize and Discard!” spurred by COL FDLP task force report’s discussion question #1a which said “Should libraries be allowed to de-accession and destroy these collections for the greater good of broader on-line access?”

Draft Resolution on Digitization of U.S. Government Documents

WHEREAS the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) was designed to provide public access to government information through a cooperative network of depository libraries; and

WHEREAS designated FDLP libraries have successfully preserved and provided access to government information for more than two hundred years; and

WHEREAS the historic paper FDLP collections contain valuable, irreplaceable information and remain critical for concrete representation and analysis of the policies, procedures, and workings of the Federal government and the United States as a whole; and

WHEREAS digitization technologies provide opportunities to enhance access to and utilization of printed collections, and complement rather than replace paper copies of government documents; and

WHEREAS FDLP libraries and the Government Printing Office (GPO) remain committed to providing preservation of, access to, and services for valuable government information in all formats; and

WHEREAS the reliability, functional utility, and preservability of digitized documents varies tremendously depending on the processes used in the digitization;

Therefore be it resolved that the American Library Association (ALA):

1. supports and encourages the preservation of Federal Depository Libraries’ (FDL) paper collections;
2. opposes policies that would result in the destruction of FDL paper collections;
3. supports technologies that guarantee long-term, robust, verifiable, complete, accurate, authentic, preservable, and usable digital formats;
4. work with the Government Printing Office (GPO) and the FDL community on developing procedures to authenticate and ingest digital content into FDsys digitizations that come from FDL libraries and federal agencies; and
5. supports the creation of an inventory of digitized government publications with records that include information on quality, completeness, accuracy, features, availability, limitations, costs, utility, and trusted preservation, and provide links to records in OCLC and GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications so that libraries can download batch MARC metadata.

The second draft resolution of interest is currently working its way through the Committee on Legislation’s Government Information Subcommittee (COL GIS) and deals with the issue of govt agencies suddenly taking down Web sites or databases (e.g., NASA technical reports server or National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII))


WHEREAS Federal information produced at taxpayer expense should remain permanently accessible to the public free of charge; and

WHEREAS “In the past half-century, information creation, distribution, retention, and preservation has expanded from a tangible, paper-based process to include digital processes managed largely through computerized information technologies.” (http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42457.pdf p. ii); and

WHEREAS some Federal agencies have created independent web sites and/or have worked in partnership with each other and with external entities to build integrated web sites to share information with the public; and

WHEREAS web archiving is a fundamental part of managing digital government information, there exists an ISO standard for web archive formats (ISO28500:2009, WARC), the preferred format for web sites harvested by the Library of Congress, and

WHEREAS some Federal agency web sites, such as the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder, provide data and publications only for a specific period of time and make older information unavailable, often without providing an explanation for withdrawing that information or ensuring archival access to it; and

WHEREAS when, due to funding or other reasons, a Federal agency can no longer maintain a web site either in whole or as a partner, this web site is dismantled and the information made inaccessible because no procedures or policies are in place to assure that the data will be transferred to another publically accessible repository, along with appropriate metadata, software applications, or other means for manipulating, analyzing or evaluating the data retrieved; and

WHEREAS, organizations, such as the Internet Archive, the California Digital Library and the University of North Texas, are unable to comprehensively archive information found on government agency web sites, but are archiving information only selectively at their own expense and/or with limited connection to the Federal government; and

WHEREAS agencies such as the Government Printing Office (GPO), the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Library of Congress (LC), are already authorized by law to provide information services to other agencies and should be included in a plan for the disposal or transfer of information in web sites; and

WHEREAS the National Academy of Public Administration recommended that “Congress should establish a collaborative interagency process, and designate a lead agency or interagency organization, to develop and implement a government-wide strategy for managing the lifecycle of digital government information;”

Therefore be it resolved that the American Library Association (ALA):

1) requests Congress designate the Government Printing Office or interagency organization the lead agency to develop a United States federal government-wide strategy for managing the lifecycle of digital government publications, documents, information, and web sites;

2) requests Congress authorize the Government Printing Office or interagency organization develop and administer standards and procedures for the United States federal government which include rules for dismantling sites and archiving web content, including the preservation of all pertinent data protocols, documentation, and software programs for evaluating and manipulating the content for permanent public access;

3) requests that the Government Printing Office or interagency organization be required to consult with the United States federal publishing agencies, the National Libraries, and professional library and archiving groups in the development of these standards and procedures;

4) requests that the Government Printing Office or interagency organization that handles the archiving of web content be given sufficient funding to perform its duties on an ongoing basis and additional funding as necessary to fully assist agencies when they are forced to decommission a web site.

Passed in principle by COL-GIS Saturday, June 29, 2013
Passed in principle by GODORT Legislation Saturday, June 29, 2013



The first recommendation made in the report is:

“Recommendation 1. To enable the federal government to carry out its role of providing information to its citizens, Congress should establish a collaborative interagency process, and designate a lead agency or interagency organization, to develop and implement a government-wide strategy for managing the lifecycle of digital government information.”

A pertinent quote from page 21:

“Data needs to be managed, maintained, and stored. Cloud storage may provide an opportunity for originating agencies to standardize formats, and simply transfer control of the information to another agency (like NARA, LC, or GPO) at appropriate times in the information’s lifecycle.”



Click to access archiveit_life_cycle_model.pdf


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