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As we noted last week, there is another effort underway to update Title 44 and “modernize” the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). The Government Publishing Office (GPO) has put together a proposal for Legislative Revisions to Title 44 U.S.C., Chapter 19 and have asked for comments by MARCH 5, 2021.
As always, we approach changes to Title 44 and GPO policies with the user in mind. We ask of every change, “How will this affect people who want and need government information?” With that in mind, here are our comments on GPO’s proposed revisions.
While there is a lot that is good about GPO’s proposal, we believe that there are also some significant problems and gaps. Below, we outline these. Separately, we have compiled a revision of GPO’s proposal with specific word changes that we recommend.
Happy holidays from FGI! Seeing as many are not at work or checking their email, you might have missed that Depository Library Council recently released their recommendations to GPO. Under the tree this year is a recommendation to create a digital deposit working group! We’ve been talking for over a decade about the need for digital deposit – whereby GPO would actually deposit digital files to libraries just as they do currently with paper documents. Digital deposit will ensure the preservation and access of digital government information disseminated by GPO and allow libraries to continue to build collections for their designated communities. This is a huge step forward!
Recommendation #3: Council recommends the creation of a working group to explore current and future needs related to digital deposit – both dissemination of content and acceptance of content by GPO. At a minimum, two appropriate members of GPO staff, two members of DLC, and two members of the FDLP community should be appointed to serve on the Digital Deposit Working Group for one year. Composition of the working group should be chosen by DLC in consultation with GPO staff. The Working Group should report findings and recommendations – either initial or final – at the Fall 2019 FDLP annual meeting.
Justification: Council believes that such a Digital Deposit Working Group is a critically important and inclusive step in reaching consensus on how federal information in digital forms should be disseminated to and amongst the FDLP community for the benefit of all our users.
It is time for the biennial survey of FDLP libraries and, therefore, a good time to review “digital deposit.”
Digital deposit is a very simple concept: It simply means that GPO should treat digital and non-digital government information the same way. In so doing, GPO would allow FDLP libraries to select digital government information and GPO would deposit that digital information with the library. Libraries could then build their own digital collections and provide their own digital services for those collections. This is completely different from GPO’s definition of “online depositories” that point to, but do not have, digital files. In the digital deposit scenario, libraries would continue to be depositories regardless of format. 
Over the last twelve years, GPO has asked questions on the the biennial surveys that reveal meaningful FDLP library interest in digital deposit. GPO did not ask the same question on every survey and this makes it difficult to compare results over time. In spite of this, the responses from the FDLP community were remarkably consistent.
For example, when asked (in various ways) if libraries were interested in receiving files via digital deposit, hundreds of FDLP libraries consistently said they were interested: 394 in 2005, 453 in 2007, 416 in 2009, and 300 in 2015. (See the Appendix, below, for the details of all the numbers quoted in this post.)
Now that GPO is
testing the implementation of implementing the Regional Discard Policy, it is time to finally get answers to the important questions that GPO has not addressed over the last two years.
Although we have asked many questions about this policy, our concerns boil down to one simple question: Will FDLP — and more importantly, the public! — lose information when Regionals discard their historic collections? To answer that question, we just need to know if GPO’s implementation of the Policy will ensure that the paper preservation copies of discarded volumes and their digital surrogates are complete and accurate.
We now know that the implementation will not prevent loss of information.
In October 2015, GPO announced that it would begin testing processes and procedures of the new Regional Discard Policy with six regional depositories in January of 2016. GPO provided little description of how the policy would be implemented beyond the policy itself, leaving many important questions unanswered.
GPO has now provided links to three draft implementation documents, a recording of an information webinar, and some other “informational resources.” This provides the FDLP community with the first indications of how GPO is interpreting its new Policy and how it intends to implement it.
There are still many unanswered questions, but we now have the first solid indications of how GPO intends to balance preservation of (and access to) the FDLP Historical Collections while discarding them.
We analyzed GPO’s earlier implementation statements in a previous post. We also asked specific questions about implementation in an open letter to GPO, and, in a separate post, we review the few answers to those questions that we can infer from this new batch of documents.
In this post we focus on the big picture and the most important things FDLP librarians need to understand about GPO’s implementation of the Policy.
I was lucky enough to attend last month’s “Digital Preservation of Federal Information Summit”, 2 days chock full of discussion, brainstorming, scoping, strategizing etc. The group has now released its Reflections Report (PDF). The meeting goal was to “engage national leaders in a structured, facilitated dialogue on at-risk digital government records and information…and explore the development of a national agenda to address the preservation and access of priority content in this area.” And that it did. With this document, in conjunction with our recently published Strategic Planning part I and part II, I’m hopeful that there is a critical mass of librarians and archivists to actually put words to concerted actions. We’re planning next steps now, so let your administrators know that we’ll need all hands on deck.
On April 3-4, 2016, stakeholders from a variety of public and private organizations, including archivists, librarians, technologists, program officers, executive directors, and others gathered in San Antonio for the Digital Preservation of Federal Information Summit.The Summit focused on the important topic of preservation and access to at-risk digital government information.
The aim of the meeting was to 1) engage in a structured and facilitated dialogue with national leaders on these topics, and 2) to begin the development of a national agenda to address the preservation of access for the most pressing categories of at-risk digital government information. The focus was sustaining digital, not print, collections of government information. The summit offered facilitated sessions structured to produce several outcomes, including determining priorities for digital government records and information preservation action, and practical next steps to address these priorities.
A Reflections Report prepared by summit facilitators and edited by attendees is now available for feedback and input from other interested parties. Access the report here: http://blogs.library.unt.edu/untdocsblog/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2016/05/2016_Digital_Preservation_Summit_ReflectionsReport.pdf