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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.

Ten Great Government Web Sites

GCN’s list of “great” .gov web sites this year includes GPO’s FDsys.

  • Great .Gov Web Sites SPECIAL REPORT: “10 sites that take online government to the next level” by Joab Jackson, Government Computer News (Jul 27, 2009)

Other sites GCN lists include: data.gov, The California Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Transit.511.org, the U.S. State Department, the State of Utah, and Science.gov.

While the description of FDsys in the GCN article has no new information for those who have been following its development for years, its presence in the list is notable and important for at least two reasons. First, it is the only one of the ten that emphasizes permanence and long term access.

Second, it is revealing to see the technologies that GCN lists for each site. Every site on the list is noted for use of technologies that provide good access and rich content. These include the current batch of usual suspects, from Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight, to RSS and Cascading Style sheets; from Wikipedia and Twitter, to Google keyhole Markup Language and ArcGIS. But only FDsys also includes technologies that are specifically designed for long-term preservation and for authenticating content: The Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System, and “Digital signatures.”

Now if we could just combine that with digital deposit into FDLP libraries, we’d be able to multiply the technical guarantees of long-term free public access to government information by the number of participating FDLP libraries.

UNESCO whitepaper on Open Source Digital Archival and Preservation System

This is an interesting and worthwhile whitepaper. It examines existing open source tools and evaluates them for constructing a digital archival and preservation system compatible with the  Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS). Their aim it to develop a single package open source repository system based on existing open source platforms. Its model organization is a small- to medium-size cultural heritage organization with a low, but not non-existent, capital investment budget aiming to manage between 1TB and 20TB of data.

One of the recommendations of the whitepaper is to "Encourage the development of federated and cooperative approaches through the adoption of standard data packages."

Although the report does not examine LOCKSS because its goal was to be able to support standalone preservation repositories that are not dependant on remote storage facilities or systems, it does have as another key finding that the system should "Make multiple copies, and check and verify them regularly" — just as LOCKSS does

This from the executive summary:

This Document defines the requirements for a digital archival and preservation system using standard hardware and describes a set of open source software which can be used to implement it. This report defines the requirements for a digital archival and preservation system using standard hardware and describes a set of open source software which could used to implement it. There are two aspects of this report that distinguish it from other approaches. One is the complete or holistic approach to digital preservation. The report recognises that a functioning preservation system must consider all aspects of a digital repositories; Ingest, Access, Administration, Data Management, Preservation Planning and Archival Storage, including storage media and management software. Secondly, the report argues that, for simple digital objects, the solution to digital preservation is relatively well understood, and that what is needed are affordable tools, technology and training in using those systems.