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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.

70 Days to Government Information Liberation

Though my initial reasons to launch this blog conversation stemmed largely from last week’s U.S national elections, there is still much to say about American state and local government information — as well as government information in other countries and from international government and non-government organizations.

With 70 days left on the game clock — I can say something significant about all levels of government — several times.

Today, my focus is on the “local governments” perspective, specifically something near and dear to my bibliographic heart — urban and metropolitan planning — through a trip on the way back machine …

My point with this particular thread is that we can use “ancient” — but digitized — government information to keep those discussions going in our communities.

This coming Friday I will be lead a book disussion about
Plan of Chicago by Daniel H. Burnham and Edward H. Bennett. I will be talking with urban planning and public administration students who are part of the University of Illiniois at Chicago’s College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs. A week later I talk about the Plan at panel discussion of the American Planning Association’s Metro Chapter: APA-IL CMS Event: On the Eve of the Centennial: Daniel Burnham, Big Thinkers, and the Future of a Metropolis

One can not over-emphasize how much the Chicago Plan, even a century after its publication, still holds sway over the imagination of local and regional government planning throughout the Chicago metropolitan area — as well as enjoying a special place in the hearts and minds of urban planners in general. Burnham was no slouch when it came to public outreach and education. A couple of short years after it was published, it was adopted as the official blueprint (a government document) for Chicago, along with its own official bureaucracy: the Chicago Planning Commission.

In fact, Chicago is sponsoring a year long celebration of the Plan. Check out the
Burnham Centennial Plan website (and note how it is hosted at the University of Chicago’s library server spaces.)

What I find so delightful about organizing this kind of book discussion is that the digital copy of the Plan (courtesy of the google book project) makes it readily accessible to more students. It is also a useful way to think about how we can talk to the community about other digital resources from the government (I bet you were wondering when I would get back to the whole Government Information Liberation theme…)

Oh, sure, you might say — that is Chicago — one of the urban planning hot spots in the world! What chance does my city or region will have it is ancient plan’s digitized? Well, here is a short list of other major historic city plans to start your own book club discussion —

San Francisco
San Diego
Newark, N.J.
Replanning Small Cities: Six Typical Studies — here you get a package deal, which includes the city plans for Glen Ridge, NJ; San Diego, CA; Roanoke, VA; Montclair, NJ; Reading, PA and Madison, WI

Go ahead, find an ancient city plan for your nearest big or little city, and get a conversation going about the importance of local government planning and the need for government information access.

From another direction, consider the following series from the Green Channel that focused on the rebuilding of Greensburg KS after a devastating toronado back in 2007.

All right, time to move on. See you all on Day 69.