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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.

Digital Dreams and Dashboards: Notable Government Documents 2009

Digital Dreams and Dashboards: Notable Government Documents 2009, By David N. Griffths, Library Journal (5/15/2010).

Though budget cuts have squeezed government information services at the local level, major digital initiatives and steps toward open governance at the federal level have compensated for some of these losses.

Explaining “Born Digital” Gov Docs to Patrons & Professors

I had to explain to a student patron and their Professor today what is meant by “born digital” and how digital government documents are wonderful resources for a paper if we do not have the print version or when the print version doesn’t exist (or is horribly out of date). Have any of you had to explain this a lot?

It all started when the student patron told me she could only have three web sources for her Nursing research paper after I had shown her the wonderful world of digital documents online. She had found an eleven year old version of a government print source in our catalog but I cringed…born digital documents online via NIH or the U.S. Dept. of Health had more up to date medical information on her topic! I told her to use both the print and online sources. She would be able to see if there were any noticeable differences from the 1997 print version and the 2007/2008 online information on her topic.

I contacted the Professor and explained this too. All is well and she will allow for the use of online government information. She was just hoping to avoid the use of too many general (i.e. crappy) websites. I understand that but I wanted to make sure that the student would not be punished for using several good government online documents and websites for her paper.

I didn’t get into the nitty gritty digital authentication of government documents, but with some Professors who require legislative research, I tell them about the digitally authenticated documents that currently exist from GPO.

I have a feeling we government document librarians are going to have to explain this concept of “born digital” gov docs and digital authentication more often…especially now that more and more gov docs are being born digitally.

Free E-Book on Copyright

Cory Doctorow, co-editor at boingboing.net, Fellow for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and contributor to Wired, Popular Science, the New York Times, etc., has published a book called Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future and it’s available for download on his website…for free! Cory is an advocate of the Creative Commons organization, using some of their licenses for his own books.

Here is an excerpt:

Back in 1985, the Senate was ready to clobber the music industry for exposing America’s impressionable youngsters to sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. Today, the Attorney General is proposing to give the RIAA legal tools to attack people who attempt infringement.

Through most of America’s history, the U.S. government has been at odds with the entertainment giants, treating them as purveyors of filth. But not anymore: today, the U.S. Trade Rep is using America’s political clout to force Russia to institute police inspections of its CD presses. (Savor the irony: post-Soviet Russia forgoes its hard-won freedom of the press to protect Disney and Universal!)

How did entertainment go from trenchcoat pervert to top trade priority? I blame the “Information Economy.”

No one really knows what “Information Economy” means, but by the early ’90s, we knew it was coming…

More Problems with the “Foreign Relations of US” Series

FRUS Volume on Eastern Europe, 1973-1976, Elicits Dismay, by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News, Sept. 10, 2008.

While every FRUS publication is of interest, the latest E-volume reinforced concerns about diminishing quality control in the venerable series.

“I was taken aback by how skimpy it is,” said Mark Kramer, director of the Harvard Project on Cold War Studies.

In principle, the major advantage of a softcopy-only volume is that it permits publication of a greatly expanded collection of records, unlimited by the production constraints of a hardcopy volume. But that advantage has gone unrealized in the new FRUS volume.