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An activist group called Reclaim the Records recently submitted the “mother-of-all-FOIA requests” asking for billions of pages scanned through NARA’s public-private digitization partnership program. Here’s the twitter thread describing it:
Hey! @USNatArchives just did something new, and really good for transparency!
And we think it maybe *might* be because of that "mother-of-all-FOIA requests" we just filed with them. ?
So, okay, remember how we filed this on October 14th? Well…
— Reclaim The Records (@ReclaimTheRecs) November 19, 2020
Well now at least NARA has put up a page showing all of their digitization partners and what publications/record groups these organizations are scanning. It looks mostly to be ancestry, fold3 and familysearch, but there are other groups like the National Archives of Korea, National Collection of Aerial Photography (UK), and NOAA (Logbooks from 19th century naval ships and expeditions!).
From what I can tell, these scans seem to be going into NARA’s catalog and are freely available! Thanks NARA and also BIG thanks Reclaim the Records for making a big public deal about NARA’s public-private partnership program and making sure that the public is aware of those BILLIONS of scanned pages.
The university’s Moving Image Research Collections will digitize the Marine Corps Film Repository, with plans to eventually place the films online for the public to view free of charge.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 14, 2015 No. 15-20
GPO TO DIGITIZE TWO MILLION PAGES OF THE FEDERAL REGISTER
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) partners with the National Archives’ Office of the Federal Register (OFR) to make every issue of the Federal Register digitally available to the public. A total of 14,587 individual issues, which go back to 1936, will be digitized. GPO employees will hand pack and catalogue every issue. The project is expected to be completed in 2016. Currently, digital versions dating to 1994 to the present are available on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys)
The first issue of the Federal Register came off GPO presses and was published on March 16, 1936. President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the first document, an executive order, to be published. The Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents. It is updated daily by 6 a.m. and is published Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
“The digitization of every issue of the Federal Register is another example of GPO and OFR adapting to meet the changing needs of how the public gets Government information,” said GPO Director Davita Vance-Cooks. “I am proud of GPO’s 80 year relationship with OFR and how these two Government agencies continue to work together in making current and historic Government information available in multiple platforms.”
“I’m excited to “open the doors” to our library of Federal Register volumes,” said Oliver Potts, Director of the Federal Register. “Digitizing these books and making them available online fills a critical gap in the official digital record.”
As I suggested in my tweet a few minutes ago, wouldn’t it be great if lots of depository libraries bought cheap book scanners like the Decapod (A Mellon funded project), digitized government documents and uploaded them to the Open Library? There are tons of records for government documents just waiting for the attachment of a digital file. And GPO could help by sharing their records from the Catalog of Government Publications (CGP) with the Open Library where librarians and others could enhance to make more robust metadata (which could be fed back in to the CGP!). Lots of libraries with Decapods make light work!
(Full disclosure: I’m on the board of QuestionCopyright, a 501(c)(3) non-profit which has its own book scanning hardware/software project called Book Liberator. BL developers are in close contact with Decapod folks. But I get no economic benefit from either Book Liberator or Decapod.)