With few exceptions, federal government records and publications (which are a form of record) are in the public domain and can be used without fear of the copyright police.
Digital cameras have become relatively inexpensive and easy to use and photo sharing sites like Flickr are able to hold many images. This means we now live in a world where individuals, some of them librarians have the means to do very fast, though not necesarily high quality, digitization of government documents.
The next time you, your library or organization notices you have a document that would contribute to a hot topic, why not take some quick images and post it to the web like I’ve done with the 1977 Army publication Your Conduct in Combat? Putting the page images on Flickr also potentialy opens up this publication to people who wouldn’t go to a documents web site, let alone a physical depository.
I’m NOT recommending this approach for preservation or even medium term access since documents done in this way aren’t full text searchable and in some cases (see inside front cover) don’t seem to photograph properly. But I think doing things like this could be a marketing tool for your depository or an aid in online discussions you might be having. And who knows, maybe it would help get you support for properly digitizing large volumes of materials, once your funders get a glimpse of the treasures you have.
And assuming I’m not the first person to hit on this idea, I’d love to hear other examples of DIY personal digitization of government documents. We probably won’t devote a whole page to it since we’re busy with the best. titles. ever. page, but we at FGI are always interested in new things being done with government information. It’s yours and it’s copyright free – now use it!
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