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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.

2009 Fall DLC Meeting: “Demystifying Digital Deposit: What It Is and What It Could Do for the Future of the FDLP”

At the Fall 2009 Depository Library Council (DLC) meeting in Arlington, VA, James A. Jacobs and I (Rebecca Blakeley) introduced attendees to the concept of “digital deposit” that maps out the pieces of the FDLP cloud and what it could do for the future of the FDLP. Our slides and notes are available for you to view and download online.

Newsweek Article on the Statistical Abstract

I was pleasantly surprised to see an article about the wonders of the Statistical Abstract in the Jan. 18, 2010 issue of Newsweek, entitled “Suicide, Sex, and SUVs: This book covers them all—and more.” The author, Robert J. Samuelson, states:

I confess to being an avid fan of the Statistical Abstract, published annually by the Census Bureau, because it tells so much so quickly. The just-published 2010 edition, as always, bulges with information. For me, the Stat Abstract is often the first go-to source for a story, because it substitutes evidence for speculation.

Of course, in the print version of the magazine’s article, the author doesn’t mention where you can find this document at your local library and/or Federal Depository Library and he doesn’t mention that it is also available online for free via the federal government, and the online article links to a copy of the Statistical Abstract that you can purchase at Amazon. Huh?! I made a comment with the link to the free online version and provided a link to the FDLP Directory for those that want to look at a print copy of the document at their local FDL.

But it is good to see government documents in the news!

CRS Reports to the People! Part III

Even with this year’s introduction of S.Res. 118 and H.R. 3762, it is still important to encourage our Government to make Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports publicly accessible online!

Thus, I finally updated the latest list of Bills and contact information for the sponsoring Congressmen in the Delicious.com “CRS” tag Delicious.com “CRS” tag.

See also: CRS Reports to the People! Part 1 and Part 2 for more information on how to contact/write to your Congressmen.

Data.gov.uk Launches Soon!

Looks like the UK version of data.gov, developed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, is going to be released soon. It is “language-based” where “linkages are based on human language, rather than hard-coded hyperlinks”, a.k.a. the Semantic Web concept that Berners-Lee has been touting for years.

I like the way Nancy Scola of Personal Democracy Forum describes the Semantic Web:

[Berners-Lee] vision is of a web that understands the connections between disparate bits of information in a way similar to how the human mind might effortlessly connect an address on London’s Whitehall with the events of World War II that Winston Churchill directed from an underground bunker there. Data woven through with more human ways of interpretation might, just might, make the gap between making government information public and making it useful a little smaller.

The BBC reports that “Data.gov.uk is built with semantic web technology, which will enable the data it offers to be drawn together into links and threads as the user searches…we will also be able to look for patterns…visitors to data.gov.uk will want to make their own mash-ups from the information available.”

Yes, and we should be making mashups from our country’s data.gov for our library patrons too! Let’s get to it! I’ll be working on mine and will show you how it can be done.


Check out DataTO.org, which is similar to data.gov, but users request data sets from the Toronto municipal government. The first phase of the website will allow one to:

…publish a request for data to the community, where members can comment and rate the request. In future iterations of this site, publishers and others will be able to post details of known and existing data sources so that community members can rate them for prioritization. Users will then be able to find data sources that have been published.

Kudos to O’Reilly Radar.