LIS Webcast: government information at the crossroads (February 7, 2006)
Charley Seavey talks with Laurie Canepa of the State Library of New Mexico and Barbara Rehkopb of Washington University in St. Louis about the present and future of government information. This Webcast, hosted by the University of Missouri, Columbia’s School of Information Science and Learning Technologies, is a nice service and opportunity to share information and ideas. I highly recommend listening to the interview.
First off, congratulations to Laurie and the State Library of New Mexico for being honored as Depository of the Year and to Barbara and WASHU for celebrating their 100th anniversary as a federal depository library!
There are a few things I’d like to highlight about Charley’s interview with Laurie and Barbara. I was interested to learn about the New Mexico News Plus service, a blog and clipping service highlighting federal government information mentioned in the news of local and regional import — see there ARE uses for blogs in libraries 😉 . I was also excited to hear that Laurie is feeding those digital documents (many of them fugitives) into their state library’s OCLC-supported digital archive. All three agreed that this is of vital importance to the preservation of digital government information because they were skeptical of GPO’s ability to preserve all documents for all time.
I’d also like to mention a meme that worried me. All three agreed that, since many public libraries have internet access, they can and should consider themselves depository libraries. I think this rings true on the surface, but when looked at more deeply, denegrates the work that depository librarians have done for the last 150+ years. Access is important, yes, but collections, cataloging, reference and long-term preservation are the pillars on which depositories are built. Putting a “link to American Factfinder” on a library Web page does not a depository make. This statement and belief only makes it more difficult for docs librarians to convince their administrations of the continuing vital importance of documents and efforts to build local digital collections.
And I’ll end my missive with this quote from Dr. Seavy for you all to mull over:
[35:30] GPO needs to recast itself as an information access agency right now the legislation isn’t going to let them do that. They need congressional action and the resources to do it. If every state is doing what Laurie is doing … downloading and preserving on local servers stuff that is relevant to that state/region, then in a way we’ve got alot of redundancy there we’ve got alot of, a big safety net. I fear that if we put it all in one federal basket somewhere, then some day some fool is going to decide well we don’t need this stuff anymore; the money ran out or whatever and boom all that history goes away. I’d really rather see alot more local responsibility in taking care of and preserving the digital information that’s out there. I think GPO and Superintendent of Documents has got a role, but I’m a long way from convinced that everybody should depend on the feds to do it. I just don’t think it’s going to happen.
(hmmm, seems I’ve heard this idea before somewhere 😉 )