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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.

Alaska State Library Archiving Governor Palin’s Resignation Announcement and End of Term Website

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s resignation announcement earlier this month and the transition of power to Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell gave the Alaska State Library a great chance to preserve this “at risk” content. 

Using Archive-It and the manual “start on demand” feature inside the web application  the Alaska State Library crawled Governor Palin and Lt. Governor Parnell’s web sites on the eve of the transition of power and was 
able to capture valuable information that is now offline and no longer accessible.

The Alaska State Library’s Alaska Governor/Lt. Governor Web Sites collection was originally conceived to archive these government websites over time.  Once Sarah Palin left office, the governor’s website changed to reflect Sean Parnell as governor, and the lieutenant governor’s
changed to reflect Craig Campbell as lieutenant governor. Thus all of the information on former Governor Palin’s website as well as speeches and press releases from Sean Parnell’s time as lieutenant governor are no longer available on the live web. 

The foresight of the staff of the Alaska State Library and the availability of the Archive-It web archiving service made it possible to preserve the final changes to these “at risk” websites before they were taken offline.

North Carolina State Archives and State Library of North Carolina’s Web

The North Carolina State Archives and the State Library of North Carolina teamed up in 2005 to create Archive-It collections that collect, preserve, and utilize the state’s historic and evidential resources so that present and future residents may better understand their history. This contributes to their overall goal to safeguard the documentary and material evidence of past generations for the education of all citizens and the protection of their democratic rights. You can find the North Carolina State Archives’ portal to their Archive-it collections here.

The North Carolina State Archives and State Library specifically used Archive-It during the 2005 Archive-It pilot period to capture former Governor James Hunt’s website which they had been unable to obtain from other sources, and the site came down from the web shortly after they captured it. The Archives reports that it has gotten many requests for information from Governor Hunt’s website and being able to point folks to the website archives collection has elicited very positive feedback.

They also captured then Governor Mike Easley’s August 2003 video message to President Bush regarding the closing of textile mills in North Carolina (these mills were very important to NC’s economy). The video is no longer available online due to a change in administration, so having it archived will ensure continued access.

The Archives and State Library are now working to capture their current governor’s Facebook and Twitter accounts as a way to document elected officials use of technology to reach large communities with their message.


University of Toronto’s Canadian Political Parties and Political Interest Groups Collection

The University of Toronto Libraries are a network of 30 collections with over 15 million holdings, forming the largest academic library in Canada, and ranking third among research libraries in North America. With an average of 12,000 visits per day, and a rapidly expanding online information system, the collections meet the research, teaching and learning needs of scholars in an exceptionally broad range of disciplines. Serving researchers in Canada’s largest university, across the country, and around the world, UTL is an internationally recognized cultural resource.

The University of Toronto has used Archive-it to create a comprehensive collection on Canadian Political Parties and Political Interest Groups. The collection archives the websites of all of the national Canadian political parties, and a number of special interest groups across the political spectrum. The University of Toronto has been archiving these sites several times a year since 2005. You can find the University’s portal to their Archive-it collections here.


Archive-It Wiretapping and the National Security Agency Collection

John Gilmore is an open software proponent, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and perhaps most importantly an Archive-It partner (as an independent researcher). His Archive-It collections focus on open access to government information and policy as well as free and open source software.

John has been archiving sites related to wiretapping and the National Security Agency since 2007. Describing the reasons for creating this collection, John says:

“I’m trying to record and make searchable some documents related to the controversy over NSA wiretapping domestically without warrants, or with general warrants, which the Fourth Amendment outlaws. ” 

This collection demonstrates how the recent change in administration has opened up further crawler access to the National Security Agency (NSA) website. Previously, most NSA web content was blocked to the Archive-It crawler (as well as other crawlers) using the robots.txt exclusion protocol. Looking at their old exclusion list, for example this one from 2008 you can just how much of their website was blocked from crawler access. (all the directories listed could not be accessed).

Since January 17, 2009 however crawlers have access to much more content.

At the Internet Archive, we have noticed similar changes in other .gov websites including www.whitehouse.gov (compare this version from 2006 to the current exclusion list).

Its exciting to know that moving forward John and other Archive-It partners will be able to collect more complete snapshots of government websites.

-Molly and Lori

Idaho Digital Publications Archive

As an Idahoan, I was excited to learn that the Idaho Commission for Libraries and the Idaho state legislature have made preserving and providing digital access to government publications and other information a priority.

First a little background: the Idaho Commission for Libraries is the State Library of Idaho, and assists libraries throughout the state to build the capacity to better serve their clientele. The Commission has been charged with the responsibility of establishing and maintaining a digital repository of state publications in a publicly accessible database in revised Idaho Code 33-2505. Many state publications are preserved and made available online here.

To further achieve this end, the Idaho Commission for Libraries has used Archive-it to preserve Idaho state government websites in their Idaho Digital Publications collection. This collection includes websites for state departments, universities, local and statewide initiatives, and even the first lady’s website. Check it out!