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Government of Canada Publications – it’s about access, not format

[Editor’s note: my Canadian colleague Amanda Wakaruk, government information librarian at the University of Alberta asked me to post the following. Please direct questions and/or interest in partnership to her at amanda.wakaruk AT ualberta DOT ca. JRJ]

On Friday the Depository Services Program of Canada (DSP) announced that, by 2014, it would, “no longer be producing, printing, or warehousing hard copies of publications.” (The announcement was distributed on INFODEP, a list for depository libraries, and appended to this post). The Library of Parliament will stop distributing paper publications with the end of September’s session. Library and Archives Canada will stop obtaining Government of Canada (GOC) publications in print format by 2014. Many GOC agencies have moved exclusively to born digital publishing.

For those of us on the privileged side of the digital divide, the main problem with the transition to digital is not format, it’s the absence of any comprehensive GOC policy on digital integrity, preservation, and long-term access. To make matters worse, the intellectual organization and capital of the GOC information landscape is increasingly fractured through policy decisions including, but not limited to, government cutbacks.

For example, Statistics Canada moved away from the DSP’s e-archive to mount their own. Implementation of the Common Look and Feel for the Internet website standard removed countless publications in pdf and also access to several databases (including library catalogues) from GOC web sites – it’s unlikely that many of these were captured by the DSP or other e-archive services.

Federal departmental libraries have been in quiet decline for years. CISTI was decimated (70% budget cut), multiple libraries closed (most recently HRSDC), staff reductions have touched practically every agency, and I’ve been told that librarians are being replaced with less-expensive and precariously employed support staff. As an academic librarian, I’ve lost a good portion of an important referral network of experienced, knowledgeable colleagues. And, because of this, my clients – who are important assessors of our governing bodies – are underserved.

Transitions like this one require an influx of professional knowledge and action. At the moment, this means starting a discussion to establish a Canadian federal government LOCKSS PLN similar to the USDOCS LOCKSS PLN partnership between the US GPO and academic institutions.

Let me know if you are interested in partnering on this project. Better yet, attend the CLA Government Information Network meeting in Ottawa (May 31) – it will be on the agenda.

Amanda Wakaruk, MLIS, MES
Government Information Librarian
Liaison Librarian, British History
Humanities and Social Sciences Library
University of Alberta

From: infodep@lists.canada.gc.ca On Behalf Of Publications
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2012 12:33 PM
Subject: infodep DSP Important Notice/PSD Avis important

Notification of Deficit Reduction Action Plan Implications for PWGSC’s Depository Services Program

Dear Sir or Madam,

Further to the 2012 Budget, tabled on March 29, 2012, this is to advise you of a decision that affects the business relationship between Public Works and Government Services Canada Publishing and Depository Services Program, and your organization.

As part of the Deficit Reduction Action Plan, the decision has been made to completely transition all publications published by the Publishing Program
and publications provided by departments to the Depository Services Program from traditional print to exclusively electronic publications. This aligns with the Government of Canada’s greening government initiatives. This also aligns directly with Canadians’ increasing access to electronic information and use of e-publications. Recent statistics from publications.gc.ca show a significant increase in the number of unique visitors to the site which was close to 2.2 Million and the number of downloads close to 10 Million annually. The resulting demand for paper publications has greatly declined. This decline is expected to continue as the trend towards the use of the Internet to access publications increases. By fully transitioning to free web-based
publications we will eliminate the costs associated with producing, printing, distributing and warehousing hard copies.

In 2014, Publishing and Depository Services will no longer be producing, printing, or warehousing hard copies of publications. However the Depository Services Program will continue to provide access to Government of Canada publications through publications.gc.ca. Other services under the Publishing and Depository Services Program remain as they are.

Please be assured of our utmost co-operation in limiting the impact of this decision on your operations and in continuing to offer a high-quality service.

Thank you for your understanding and continued co-operation.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to communicate with us at: publications@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca.

Roundup of New Resources and Other Government Info News (18 Items)

Hello From DC.

Here are some catchup items from the past couple of weeks that I was unable to get to when the stories were first posted over the past 10 days.

I’ve culled a selection of items from our INFOdocket.com site that we update seven days a week.

We hope you find them useful.

1. EPA Launches New Mapping Tool to Improve Public Access to Enforcement Information

2. Gov Docs: Enhancements Made to GPO’s MetaLib Federated Search Resource

3. Reference Resource: New Economic Indicator Database Search Available from Census Bureau

4. Canada: Government Documents: Library and Archives Canada Digitizes Past Issues of the Canada Gazette (1841-1997)
More than 150 years of content.

5. Privacy: Social Media: U.S. Congress Members Want FTC To Investigate Facebook Tracking
Includes link to full text of a letter sent to FTC.

6. Privacy: “WSJ.com Begins Tracking Personal User Information Without Consent”

7. Reference: New York City: “Detailed Crime Data Online” (New Database)

8. Online Civil War Era National Cemeteries Travel Itinerary Launched by the National Park Service

9. Recently Launched: PACER Training Site

10. A Collection of International Mobile Statistics from the ITU

11. Recently Released: Library of Congress Annual Report, FY 2010

12. Reference: Nuclear Energy: A New Science Tracer Bullet from the Library of Congress

13. New From CRS: Social Media and Disasters: Current Uses, Future Options, and Policy Considerations

14. NCES Releases Projections of Education Statistics to 2020

15. HHS Announces Text4Health Task Force Recommendations and Global Partnership

16. New CRS Report: Illegal Internet Streaming of Copyrighted Content: Legislation in the 112th Congress

17. U.S. Dept. of Energy Scientific Research Data Now Easier to Find, Datasets Now Being Registered with DataCite

18. Reference: USAID Releases Open Data and Maps on Famine in the Horn of Africa

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.


Woman faces 13-year wait for public records

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) News, Canada’s national public broadcaster, reported Monday, January 22, 2007 that

A woman from the Rural Municipality of Daly in western Manitoba faces a long wait — 13½ years, to be exact — for government records she requested about the province’s livestock industry.

Read the full story online: Woman faces 13-year wait for hog industry info.

Officials from Manitoba Province were not available for comment on Monday.

News from abroad: UK open statutes & RFID in Canadian coins

I know we usually focus on US documents, but it’s good to look at what’s happening in other countries once in a while.

BoingBoing, one of my favorite blogs, frequently posts information of interest to libraries, and today was a banner day.

The first post of interest was a story about the UK’s new *free* statutes database. The UK Department for Constitutional Affairs, after 13 years in the works, has launched the Statute Law Database project. Before this, access to consolidated versions of the law of the UK wasn’t possible without paying lots of money to a private publisher. While the writer mentioned that the situation in the US was similar with access dominated by Westlaw and LexisNexis, a kind commenter pointed out that West and Lexis indeed dominate case law access, but US code could be freely accessible via GPOAccess, Thomas and Cornell’s Legal Information Institute.

A little closer to home, The US counter-intelligence office of the U.S. Department of Defense recently related that Canadian coins containing tiny transmitters have mysteriously turned up in the pockets of at least three American contractors who visited Canada. Evidently, this is one way that foreign agents use to illicitly acquire military technology.