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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.

More about NTIS Repository Service

Recently, we noted that NTIS is going to offer a Repository Service to Federal Agencies. Here is a followup story:

  • A Joint Venture to Create Federal Science Agency Repositories, by Miriam A. Drake, InfoToday (October 20, 2011).

    This program will help agencies manage their content, make it more accessible to the public while preserving it for NARA and future generations. The agencies also benefit because they do not have to begin at square one to build a repository and metadata. Doing more with less may be possible because costs will be shared.

Drake reports that the first client of this venture is the National Technical Reports Library (NTRL), which contains 2 million titles and that NTIS wants to deal with thematic as well as agency collections. Another project is the the Deep Water Horizon Archive with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is thematic program that crosses agency lines and include PDFs, images, and video.

NTIS To A Offer Repository Service to Federal Agencies

The National Technical Information Service (NTIS) has announced the development an Institutional Repository (IR) Service for federal agencies.

Excerpts from press release (link to original [.doc]):

NTIS NEWS RELEASE – October 5, 2011

National Technical Information Service, Information International Associates

The National Technical Information Service (NTIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce and Information International Associates, Inc. (IIa), a small, woman-owned company in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, have recently formed a Joint Venture (JV) to develop an Institutional Repository (IR) Service for federal agencies. Institutional Repositories are collections of agency scientific and technical information documents and other content that represent the work and mission of the agency, provided as a searchable, digital collection. The IR will be hosted by NTIS and promoted and supported by expert content managers and a technical team from IIa and NTIS. As part of this new NTIS line of business, the IR will provide a framework through which federal agency content can be made available, providing users with increased ease of access and agencies with cost savings.

The Director of NTIS, Bruce Borzino, states: “There is a huge demand coming from national laboratory and federal research communities to dramatically update the way scientists publish, share, and archive information. Through selected partnerships such as this one with IIa, NTIS can attain its e-science development goal of creating new levels of transparency for scientific, technical, and engineering content.”

The president and founder of IIa, Bonnie Carroll, points out that “the Institutional Repository Service will provide content management and information dissemination, making it easier for agency personnel and the public to find and receive better access to information resources. The IR will support a wide variety of content types including images, audio, video, and traditional text.”

Individual IRs will be developed for agencies based on a core set of services with optional services, including those based on Web 2.0 technologies. This IR Service will be a valuable asset for smaller agencies, agency components, projects and programs that need to provide information collection and dissemination but do not have sufficient IT and content management support, for agencies who are interested in support for retooling their current repositories, and for agencies seeking to take advantage of new technologies such as mash-ups, blogs, and wikis which they can reuse and repurpose from other resources through the IR. Agencies will be able to respond to growing Administration Open Government requirements for transparency and citizen involvement. One major benefit will be that cost savings will occur as the technology and development of the system is shared – not redeveloped in multiple settings.

Among the core services to be provided will be content inventories, selection, and harvesting; the ability to map agency information to a core metadata scheme based on the standards to be used by and on the needs of the agency; customized interface design; increased search capabilities; and disaster recovery, archiving and preservation. Optional services may include extension of the core metadata scheme to meet the specific needs of the agency audience, customized controlled vocabularies and taxonomies, metadata creation and controlled vocabulary indexing, quality assurance capabilities, and value-added subject matter expertise. Links can be developed between different types of content and documents to make searching easier and add to the value of searches.

Thanks and a big hat-tip to Bill McGahey of NTIS.

Malamud calls for a national scan center public works project

Carl Malamud posed this question over on twitter: “What if our national cultural institutions all worked together on a common problem, attracted White House support?” In his post on the O’Reilly blog, “A National Scan Center: A Public Works Project”, Malamud scopes out the issues and calls for Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, the Government Printing Office, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the National Technical Information Service to come together and make the compelling case for funding a 5-year $500 million effort to create a National Scan Center. Here here Carl!

In the U.S., we face a similar deluge of paperwork that we faced in the 1930s. A huge backlog of paper, microfiche, audio, video, and other materials is located throughout the federal government. Little money has gone from Congress for digitization, and bureaucracies have resorted to a series of questionable private-public partnerships as a way of digitizing their materials. For example, the Government Accountability Office shipped 60 million pages of our Federal Legislative Histories (the record of each law from the initial bill through the hearings and conference reports) off to Thomson West, but didn’t even get digital copies back. Another example is the recent failed effort by the Government Printing Office to digitize 60 million pages of the Federal Depository Library Program, an effort they tried to get through as a “zero dollar cost to the government” effort with the private sector.

There are no free lunches and there are no “no cost to the government” deals. The costs involve the government effort to supervise the contract, prepare the materials, and ship them, and in both the GAO and GPO cases, the government wasn’t getting much back for its effort. What the government and the people usually get is a lien on the public domain, preventing the public from accessing these vital materials. Similar efforts are sprinkled throughout the government. I testified to Congress that I had learned that the National Archives was contemplating a scan of congressional hearings with LexisNexis under similar circumstances, and many may be aware of the questionable deal the Archives cut with Amazon where my favorite online superstore got de facto exclusive rights to 1,899 wonderful pieces of video.

FedFlix: putting the US Govt’s videos online

Public Domain superhero Carl Malamud has done it again! Public.resource.org has announced a joint venture with the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) (mmmm NTIS documents!!) to digitize their videotapes and deposit them in the Internet Archive. Carl’s announcement doesn’t say what kind of videotapes NTIS is offering up, but I’m assuming they’re coming from NTIS’ National Audiovisual Center (NAC) which “contains over 9,000 audiovisual and media productions … in occupational safety and health, fire services, law enforcement, and foreign languages. Information and educational materials include areas such as history, health, agriculture, and natural resources.” I hope Carl can confirm that. And I also hope he’ll send us titles/links every month so we can get them into library catalogs and into library users’ hands.

And I’d like to challenge libraries to catalog anything of interest to your local users that you find in the Archive — audio, video, text. If Carl can digitize 20 videotapes a month, imagine how many digital items the 60,000 libraries in 112 countries in the OCLC cooperative can catalog. In no time, libraries could catalog the roughly 600,000 items in the Internet Archive (206,890 audio, 104,076 video, 290,269 text). If each OCLC library catalogs 1 item/day, the job will be done in 100 days. So get to it, and thanks again Carl Malamud for being such an inspiration!

“Public.Resource.Org is pleased to announce a joint venture with the U.S. government’s National Technical Information Service, a program I’ve dubbed ‘FedFlix.’ Each month NTIS will send us 10-20 videotapes, which we’ll digitize, then send the tapes back. We’ll upload all this public domain data to places like the Internet Archive, and also give the NTIS a digital copy of their data.”

[Thanks BoingBoing!]