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Home » post » NARA does digital-deposit… but not to libraries.

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NARA does digital-deposit… but not to libraries.

Here at FGI, we are long time advocates of digital deposit: the deposit of born-digital government information into Federal Depository Libraries. We know this can be done, but, for a variety of increasingly unjustifiable reasons, neither FDLP libraries nor GPO have been eager to do it.

We were intrigued, therefore, to see this story:

  • US National Archives enshrines Wikipedia in Open Government Plan, plans to upload all holdings to Commons, By The ed17, Wikipedia Signpost (25 June 2014).

    The [NARA] Open Government Plan lays out what NARA wants to accomplish in the next two years; but as a general plan it suffers from a lack of specifics. The Signpost contacted [Dominic] McDevitt-Parks [NARA digital content specialist with a specialty in the Wikimedia sites] to learn what the inclusion of Wikipedia in this plan will mean for the site.

    He told us that there is no quantitative target for a total number of image uploads, because NARA plans to upload all of its holdings to Commons.

    …Given these efforts, McDevitt-Parks says that they will “allow us to more easily upload all of our existing digitized holdings to Wikimedia Commons and similar third-party platforms, and also that in the future upload to platforms like Commons will be the end of all digitization. Looking at it this way, I would say that in a way all of our digitization efforts are also for upload to Wikimedia Commons.”

That’s right: NARA is working to upload (copy, deposit, call it what you will…) all its digitized images to the Wikimedia Commons.

This makes me wonder: Why is Wikimedia more open to digital deposit than FDLP libraries?

It also prompts me to suggest two things:

  1. Since GPO is currently working with LOCKSS-USDOCS to (uh…) deposit all of FDsys into a private LOCKSS Network, why doesn’t it offer similar deposit to any and all FDLP libraries today? Sure, there are lots of technical details to work out, but why not stop saying that GPO cannot deposit digital and start working on the details? Above all, let’s stop saying that Title 44 of the US Code needs to be altered to keep up with born digital. It doesn’t. What does need to change is the attitudes of FDLP libraries — particularly the attitudes of the administrators of those libraries. FDLP librarians: I’m looking at you! Too many of your administrators do not understand the FDLP, the value of govinfo to your users, and the potential value to the library of building digital govinfo collections. Part of your job is to instruct them. Work to convince your administrators that digital deposit can be done and should be done! Tell them that the library will add more value to the library by providing integrated collections and services than it ever will to by chasing broken links and purchasing expensive commercial access and apologizing to users when the government takes information offline. This will add value for users and they will thank you! Think of it as a way to build a free, open-access, no-DRM, digital library!
  2. Given that Wikipedia always needs resources and is always asking for donations and seeking grants, why doesn’t the Library community adopt Wikipedia and its associated collections? Imagine current Wiki staff working inside libraries with librarians and librarians working on Wikipedia! Imagine how libraries could routinely seed Wikipedia with links to library content and collections and services. Imagine the value to all libraries of adding the (I apologize for using this phrase…) “library brand” to Wikipedia.

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