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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Peek at Space Pix

Software Engineering Patrik Göthe has a nice little project called PeekSpace in which he curates free·to·use space photography — much of it from NASA. As he says, there are plenty of free images of space on the web, but they are scattered in “an unaccessible sea of quantity and flash-slide shows.” So, Patrick has gone through thousands of images and picked out the best ones, so you don’t have to!

There are two things of interest here to government information professionals (apart from the obvious coolness of PeekSpace!). First, Patrick is doing what libraries have always done: selected out of a plethora of stuff just the stuff that his community (users of free space imagery!) want and organized it so that it is easy to find and use. These days, the popular buzzword is that he “curates” this collection.

Second, he does not just point to NASA; he gets copies and serves them from his own web server. Clearly, he understands the drawbacks of pointing instead of collecting.

Later this week (April 23, 2015 2:00 pm until April 23, 2015 3:00 pm [EDT]) there is a webinar on Creating Online Federal Depository Collections: Case Studies [update: recording of the webinar now available here]. I will be interested to hear if there are any FDLP libraries that are actually building digital collections or if “online federal depository collections” are just pointers to digital objects that can change, move, or disappear over time. This model of a “collection” of pointers is from the early days of the web — it was pioneered by Yahoo in 1994! Even Yahoo finally retired its “directory.” I hope FDLP libraries will start building real 21st century digital collections that they select, acquire, organize, and preserve and for which they guarantee long-term free access and provide their own digital services. Now that would be an actual Library!

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