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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.

Lunchtime listen: “Storing Data Together” by Matt Zumwalt at Code4Lib2017

Drop everything and watch this presentation from the 2017 Code4Lib conference that took place in Los Angeles March 6-9, 2017. Heck, watch the entire proceedings because there is a bunch of interesting and thoughtful stuff going on in the world of libraries and technology! But in particular, check out Matt Zumwalt’s presentation “How the distributed web could bring a new Golden Age for Libraries” — after submitting his talk, he changed the new title to “Storing data together: the movement to decentralize data and how libraries can lead it” because of the DataRefuge movement.

Zumwalt (aka @FLyingZumwalt on twitter), works at Protocol Labs, one of the primary developers of IPFS, the Interplanetary File System (IPFS) — grok their tagline “HTTP is obsolete. It’s time for the distributed, permanent web!” He has spent much of his spare time over the last 9 months working with groups like EDGI, DataRefuge, and the Internet Archive to help preserve government datasets.

Here’s what Matt said in a nutshell: The Web is precarious. But using peer-to-peer distributed network architecture, we can “store data together”, we can collaboratively preserve and serve out government data. This resonates with me as an FDLP librarian. What if a network of FDLP libraries actually took this on? This isn’t some far-fetched, scifi idea. The technologies and infrastructures are already there. Over the last 9 months, researchers, faculty and public citizens around the country have already gotten on board with this idea. Libraries just have to get together and agree that it’s a good thing to collect/download, store, describe and serve out government information. Together we can do this!

Matt’s talk starts at 3:07:41 of the YouTube video below. Please watch it, let his ideas sink in, share it, start talking about it with your colleagues and administrators in your library, and get moving. Government information could be the great test case for the distributed web and a new Golden Age for Libraries!

This presentation will show how the worldwide surge of work on distributed technologies like the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) opens the door to a flourishing of community-oriented librarianship in the digital age. The centralized internet, and the rise of cloud services, has forced libraries to act as information silos that compete with other silos to be the place where content and metadata get stored. We will look at how decentralized technologies allow libraries to break this pattern and resume their missions of providing discovery, access and preservation services on top of content that exists in multiple places.

Code4lib journal issue 2 now on the “newsstands”

This isn’t technically about government documents, but I just wanted to bring to your attention the Code4lib journal. Issue 2 has just come out and from the table of contents, I’d say there’s something there for everyone.

Code4lib held one of the best conferences I’ve been to in a while. It was the place where the library developer community came together with the content community (for lack of a better word) to talk about and show off ways that Web technologies could enhance access to and preservation of digital collections. I was really impressed with the energy, know-how and positive attitude bubbling over at the conference. Plus, the lightning talks (where UC Berkeley’s Harrison Decker talked about virtual environments for accessing govt data on CDROMs) and keynotes were top-notch.

Please check out both the Code4lib journal and the code4lib community (conference and listserv). You’ll be glad you did!!

Table of contents:

  • Code4Lib: More than a journal. Eric Lease Morgan
  • Free and Open Source Options for Creating Database-Driven Subject Guides. Edward M. Corrado and Kathryn A. Frederick
  • Using Google Calendar to Manage Library Website Hours. Andrew Darby
  • Geocoding LCSH in the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Chris Freeland, Martin Kalfatovic, Jay Paige, and Marc Crozier
  • Toward element-level interoperability in bibliographic metadata. Carol Jean Godby, Devon Smith and Eric Childress
  • Help! A simple method for getting back-up help to the reference desk. Kenneth Furuta and Michele Potter
  • Googlizing a Digital Library. Jody DeRidder
  • Participatory Design of Websites with Web Design Workshops. Nancy Fried Foster, Nora Dimmock, and Alison Bersani
  • Quick Lookup Laptops in the Library: Leveraging Linux with a SLAX LiveCD. Dan Scott and Kevin Beswick
  • The ICAP (Interactive Course Assignment Pages) Publishing System. Margaret Mellinger and Kim Griggs
  • Respect My Authority. Jonathan Gorman
  • Conference Report: Code4LibCon 2008. Carol Bean, Ranti Junus, and Deborah Mouw