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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.

Freedom Summer online archive now available

Great news: now there’s a digital archive to access the historically important “[[Freedom_Summer|Freedom Summer]]”, a seminal moment in the US civil rights movement. The Wisconsin Historical Society has just released the 1964 Freedom Summer Project. Not only are there 25,000 manuscripts and key documents, but there are finding aids to help users access the information and instructional materials for teachers.

Dear colleagues,

We’ve just released an online collection of 25,000 manuscripts related to the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer project. It’s free and open to anyone for non-profit educational purposes at


Besides thousands of archival documents from COFO, CORE and SNCC and papers from dozens of individual activists, the site includes a downloadable Powerpoint about Freedom Summer and a PDF Sourcebook of key documents for teachers.

I’d be grateful if you’d forward this note to colleagues and educators who might be interested. As the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer approaches, we want teachers, students, historians, librarians, museum curators, the media, and anyone else to use these primary sources in their 50th anniversary programming.

We’ll be adding a few thousand more pages this year, so please “like” us on Facebook and follow along:


Best wishes,

Michael Edmonds

Deputy Director,
Library-Archives Division
Wisconsin Historical Society

CRS report on Legal Issues of Same-Sex Marriages

From Secrecy News: “The laws and policies governing same-sex marriages were exhaustively surveyed in a newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service.”

NARA, Sweden, ILO, Online Maps, Voting, Statistics, NASA, TOXNET, Transporation, DOT, Smithsonian, Federal Regulations, Energy

Another in our series of roundups of news and new resources via INFOdocket.com. 15 items in all.

Federal Sources

1. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Releases Beta Versions of Several New Features

2. A Redesigned Regulations.gov Website Now Live With Many New Features

3. Smithsonian Launches New Website for Teaching African American Civil Rights Through American Art

4. Transportation: RITA Launches U.S. DOT Research Hub Searchable Database (Beta)

5. NLM Releases Mobile Interface to TOXNET Databases

6. A New Interactive Infographic From NASA Looks at The Future of American Human Space Flight

7. U.S. Census Releases Graphs on Historical Voting Trends

8. Archivist of the United States on the Competencies NARA Wants For Archives Specialists

Additional Items That Might Be of Interest

9. More Than 10 Million Digitized Newspaper Pages Coming to Europeana

10. Create Custom Neighborhood Maps (Quickly Search/Locate/Visualize Neighborhoods Located In Any Zip Code)

11. Online Database: NORMLEX (Information System on International Labour Standards) From ILO

12. Foreign Affairs Releases Complete Online Archive, All Articles Back to Vol. 1, No. 1 (1922) Available

13. U.Va. Library’s New Streaming Oral History Project Tells the Legal Story of the Civil Rights Struggle

14. New Interactive Site/Database Features Info About Wyoming’s Electrical Generation Facilities

15. Legal Reasons: National Library of Sweden Will Not Archive Personal Blogs or Online Video Games

Lunchtime listen: Does The Patriot Act Violate Free Speech?

I found this NPR story this morning very interesting. The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments today in a case that pits an individual’s right of free speech and association against USAPA. The case is being brought by the nonprofit Humanitarian Law Project. Too bad the briefs for this case aren’t publicly available yet (at least not on FindLaw 🙁 ). This would be a slam dunk for the Humanitarian Law Project if their name was followed by “LLC.”

The Intersection of Education, Technology, and Open Content

In a couple of recent posts, Lev Gonick, who is the CIO at Case Western Reserve University, has noted that we have “an educational economy that makes information abundant confronting an educational delivery system built for a time in which information was scarce.”

His description of the educational economy and the educational delivery system struck me as analogous to the situation we face with government information. We live in an environment where government information is abundant and gains value by being distributed and reusable. In this environment it is incredibly inexpensive to distribute information, yet governments too often treat it as if it were scarce and expensive to deliver.

It is ironic, for example, that GPO refuses to deposit ninety percent or more of government information in FDLP libraries because it is digital (SOD 301, Superintendent Of Documents Policy Statement, “Dissemination/Distribution Policy for the Federal Depository Library Program” Effective Date: June 1, 2006) and then wonders why libraries find it hard to justify being a depository library.

Imagine a system closer to what Gonick describes. Imagine a system that recognizes that digital information is different from paper and ink information: both more valuable (because it is more easily used and re-used) and less expensive to distribute. Imagine an approach that is a more modern, more appropriate response to digital information than what we have now. Go further and imagine what the depository system would look like if it adopted the vision that Carl Malamud proposes.

Carl says all government information should be available in three ways (all for free):

  1. as bulk data for downloading and repurposing;
  2. through an API for querying, retrieving, embedding in other web sites;
  3. as better official web sites aimed at end users.

(Carl outlines these in his interview with Timothy M. O’Brien February 24, 2009, and in his Rebooting the Federal Register document):

Lev Gonick expands on what truly open information could mean to communities. He contrasts “the largely proprietary learning economy that exists now” with the new environment of “more and more open educational resources.” He sees these open resources as creating new opportunities that were not available when we could only rely on proprietary, closed, scarce information resources.

Goncik’s specific ideas actually sound a lot like the kind of collaborative, civic-centered services that John Shuler has long advocated and is describing here. Specifically Goncik describes a “a university-led ‘connected cities’ project” in which “we could invite different communities within our cities (children, schools, professionals, unions, educators, artists, elected officials, and so forth) to communicate with others in this new connected Web.” He continues:

They might share oral histories and multimedia presentations about their communities with one another. Or they might participate in formal educational and research exchanges. Scientists could discuss research on sustainability, for instance, in ways that connect to high-school students seeking to learn about ecology and the economics of recycling. We can and we should leverage our universities’ ability to create powerful networks of technology and learners to create binding partnerships that matter.

The oceans that once separated us are now made smaller by the technology that we have helped invent and deploy. Deepening the linkages within and between our communities and across our cities is a 21st challenge worthy of great universities.

But this is not just about technology enabling sharing. It is also about having something to share. In order to do this, of course, we will need to guarantee free access to robust, preservable, re-usable collections of information. We could do that by hoping that GPO will always get the funding to do it for us and that it will do it right and meet all the needs of all communities equally well forever. We could hope that the government (GPO, OMB, Congress, etc.) will never privatize information or withdraw information, or alter information. Or, we could take on the task ourselves as depository libraries in the FDLP by demanding digital deposit. Then we could begin building digital collections for different communities-of-interest, world-wide. Libraries could then not only do interesting things with the information that they manage for their communities, but they could also facilitate others re-using the information.