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Computer Bulletin Boards, 1990

bbsDo you remember 1990 when the Internet was little more than a test, when the web was still a dream (there were no browsers), when “electronic bulletin boards” were an advanced form of telecommunication? If so (or even if not), you may enjoy this article, written in 1990 about the then fledgling attempt by a few government agencies to enter the world of digital dissemination of information by using dial-up access to their bulletin boards to distribute their press releases and economic data fast!  I was working at UCSD at the time as a data librarian, but not in the documents department. We collaborated on a project to download economic data from the Economic Bulletin Board and save (onto a public-access PC in the documents department) the “data” (mostly small tables formatted for human reading, not computer manipulation). Ah, those were the days! I wrote this paper in hopes of inspiring GPO and the FDLP community to look to the future and digital deposit. I remember one documents librarian somewhat angrily complaining about my “modest proposal” as being unworkable because only “big university libraries” would ever have internet access. We’ve come a long way since then, but we still have a long way to go.  Enjoy reading a bit of our past — including appendices that describe such arcane technology as “the internet” and “FTP” and “listservers” (!).

You may find that the issues of access, preservation, and distribution haven’t really changed that much in 23 years. The technologies have, but the need for digital deposit and a robust digital FDLP remains!

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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