An article by Mike Wash, chief technical officer for the Government Printing Office, has two interesting implications for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).
- ANOTHER VIEW: Government IT is becoming content-centric, by Mike Wash, Government Computer News, May 1, 2006
First, every time Wash mentions the FDLP he uses the past tense (e.g., “GPOâ€™s partners in the Depository Library Program then assumed the responsibility for preserving the printed publications and providing permanent public access to these publications.”).
Second, every mention of FDLP ties it to print. Wash does not mention that there are digital libraries. He does not mention that there are libraries that have and manage and preserve and provide service for digital content. He essentially provides a vision in which libraries are apparently unaware of the digital age and are completely irrelevant to it.
Wash articulates the GPO vision of the FDLP as well as anyone has in the last decade. The GPO vision of the future is one where, because printing is no longer a priority, so “distributing publications is no longer the primary mode.” It is a vision where digital content is “managed” and made “available” online, and for “managed” we can read “controlled.” FDLP libraries in this vision will have no collections to manage.
While the Future Digital System and its monolithic, comprehensive collection is a laudable goal, it is simply bad policy to rely on it and nothing else. To do so puts all public access to all government information at risk of a single-system run by a single government. Any technical problems, or human error, or policy changes, or budgetary constraints, or political decisions could mean the withdrawal, alteration or loss of “availability” of information in an instant.
In this vision it is the responsibility of GPO — to the exclusion of FDLP libraries — to preserve digital content in perpetuity and make it permanently accessible.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.