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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.

DPLA releases The Impeachment Papers as a free ebook

DPLA releases The Impeachment Papers as a free ebook. By Kathleen Williams, January 21, 2020.

“The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is pleased to announce the release of a new ebook, The Impeachment Papers, a compendium of 38 documents related to the impeachment of Donald J. Trump. The ebook consists of witness testimony, subpoenas and other publicly available material in an easy-to-read format. Additions to the preliminary version of this ebook, originally released in December, include the report from the House Judiciary Committee; report from the House Intelligence Committee; and the Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation, all of which were released to the public in December.”

‘DPLA believes that open and convenient access to accurate information allows for an informed public and is an essential service that is core to the role libraries have played in democratic societies for generations. As such, the publication of this book is a non-partisan effort that is provided without analysis or editorial perspective.”‘

Moving from the Google Book Store to a True Digital Public Library

Although many media stories about the Google Book Settlement continue to refer to Google’s project as a “library,” the smart media and knowledgeable people, including Judge Chin, understand that Google’s project is not and never was a library: “It is instead a complex and large-scale commercial enterprise in which Google — and Google alone — will obtain a license to sell millions of books for decades to come.”

In the wake of the court decision, we are seeing calls and planning for establishing an actual public, digital library as an alternative to relying on Google.

Here are some key articles:

  • Concept Note, Digital Library of America Project (as of March, 2011).

    The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) will make the cultural and scientific heritage of humanity available, free of charge, to all.

    …At the outset, its material is likely to remain hosted, as a primary matter, in a federated series of the existing digital repositories. The system would allow for broad and easy access to enormous existing collections, such as the Internet Archive, along with those in research libraries and other repositories and those to be created by future scanning…. [working] with the leading preservation technologies — HathiTrust, DuraSpace, and LOCKSS, and potentially others — to build out the nation’s existing preservation architecture. [The project should] begin with works in the public domain that have already been digitized and are accessible through the Internet Archive, HathiTrust, [and] a broad range of government material…

  • Thank You, Judge Chin, By Siva Vaidhyanathan, Chronicle of Higher Education (March 24, 2011).

    As opposed to how some university libraries celebrated Google’s announcement of its Book Search Project in 2004 because now they would not have to spend money to get digital files of their books, scientists who work on the Genome stood up and organized.

    …We lack only one thing: the political will to fight for a great and noble information system — a global digital library. I’m not talking about the haphazard rush we’ve seen to date to digitize the stacks of major research libraries. Nor a commercial venture like Google’s. I’m proposing what I call the “Human Knowledge Project”…. What I mean is a truly global digital library. To generate support for that, we need to identify the political and legal constraints, as well as articulate the payoffs.

  • Creating a digital public library without Google’s money, By Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times (March 25, 2011).

    The Google books case now looks like a salvage operation for the dream of a digital library.

    …Judge Chin’s decision forces us — or allows us– to ponder the dream of a digital library without ceding our future to Google.

Darnton on Google Books Decision

Robert Darnton, director of the Harvard University Library and leader of the movement to establish a digital public library of america, writes about the Google Books Settlement decision:

  • A Digital Library Better Than Google’s, by ROBERT DARNTON, New York Times (March 23, 2011).

    … the settlement didn’t do what settlements are supposed to do, like correct an alleged infringement of copyright, or provide damages for past incidents; instead it seemed to determine the way the digital world of books would evolve in the future.

    …Perhaps Google itself could be enlisted to the cause of the digital public library. It has scanned about 15 million books; two million of that total are in the public domain and could be turned over to the library as the foundation of its collection. The company would lose nothing by this generosity, and might win admiration for its good deed.

    …only a digital public library will provide readers with what they require to face the challenges of the 21st century — a vast collection of resources that can be tapped, free of charge, by anyone, anywhere, at any time.