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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.

Give Your Feedback on FDL Video

Today, thanks to subscribing to the “fdlp” tag on del.icio.us, I was introduced to the first video that GPO produced as part of it’s “Easy as FDL” campaign:

Since GPO is allowing ratings and comments on this video, I really want you to go and watch, rate and comment. You need to have a YouTube account to rate and comment, but it’s easy to set up. If you’d prefer not to set up a YouTube account, please leave your name and comment and I’ll post it for you.

I rated the video a 3 out of 5. It’s a great video for people already interested in the Federal Depository Library program. If I weren’t a former depository librarian, I don’t think I would have hung out until 3 minutes in when they started talking about what the program could do for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated all the librarians and GPO staff who appeared in the video. Plus the production values were excellent and light years beyond what *I’ll* ever come up with. It just didn’t feel user oriented until the middle. And today’s potential users won’t wait that long.

Here are the suggestions I left at YouTube:

I’d strongly recommend flipping the content of this video and lead off with Cindy Elkins talking about the types of questions that can be answered at an FDL, then Mary Alice and the others highlighting material (Adventures of Echo the Bat, etc) that’s available. Then end with background on the program. Hook people first, then explain. Finally, the end URL should be to the Depository Directory and not GPO Access. Though you should make videos about GPO Access!

GPO also posted several versions of the video and more background information at http://www.fdlp.gov/promotion/easyasfdlvideo.html.

Watch the video for yourself and let us know what you think, preferably at YouTube, but here will do.

Finally, despite the comments above, it is a GREAT THING that GPO is producing videos and other promotional content. Let us, the librarians who work with users every day, help them tweak what are decent products into real user creation machines. But bless them for giving us something to work with!

As Easy as FDL? What do you think?

The Government Printing Office has produced a draft marketing plan for the Federal Depository Library Program. The 22 page plan and a survey link can be found at http://www.fdlp.gov/promotion/marketingplan.html.

Depositories have been asking for marketing/promotion assistance for awhile and this plan seems to be in response to these requests. It’s also quite good that it is a draft plan and that input is being solicited before being rolled out. It suggests a willingness to collaborate that is appreciated. It is our hope at FGI that GPO will get a good response rate to their call for comments because this will become a major way of marketing for the community. Better that stakeholders have input and suggestions BEFOREHAND instead of complaining about it afterwards.

The proposed slogan for the marketing campaign has stuck in my head every since I read it off the executive summary of the plan — “As Easy as FDL – Free (information), Dedicated (service), Limitless (possibilities)” As slogans go I think that this is an excellent encapsulation of everyone’s vision for the FDLP. I think it might even serve as a rough approximation for what the program is now.

Whether this slogan will strengthen an improving reality or degenerate into mere lip service depends greatly on how the electronic era will be implemented. If it becomes a centralized model with digital rights restrictions that means that info is only free within depository walls, then it won’t be as easy as FDL. But if librarians successfully adapt the century old model of decentralized, freely reusable information to the electronic era, it will be as easy as FDL.

Daniel’s Docs Videos now at Internet Archive

As you should know by now, Free Government Information maintains a listing of video spots promoting government documents and government information. Most of these videos are available at YouTube and the Capitol Hill Broadcasting Network.

But we recognize that a number of organizations ban "commercial/consumer video" sites like YouTube. So I have posted the videos on the list that I personally created over at the Internet Archive, which most filters seem to treat as an educational site and often left unblocked:

Placing these videos in the Internet Archive has another virtue. They can be downloaded, burned onto CD/DVD, remixed, whatever. These videos are under a noncommerical Creative Commons license, so free to use them in your own promotional materials. And if you create your own videos, we at FGI encourage you to upload them to the Internet Archive now that the IA has simplified the upload process. If you need a walkthrough or have other questions, just drop me a line at dnlcornwall AT alaska DOT net or leave a message here in comments.


Tough Government Documents Make Librarians Tougher

A coworker tipped me off to a law-lib posting by Brent Johnson about a panel at the American Association of Law Librarians annual meeting that sounds like it was a riot:

GD-SIS Program: Tough Librarians Rise to the Challenge with Tough Government Documents

Andrew P. Evans gave a talk on Combative and Military Government Documents that offered these citizen benefits to reading military docs:

  • The military’s ability to evolve combat techniques.
  • Real world application
  • Gun and knife safety.
  • Question the techniques- it’s your civic duty

He illustrates the last point with a number of critiques on a hand-to-hand combat manual from civilian martial arts experts. Their advice – some things shouldn’t be tried on the battlefield, much less at home!

SaraJean Petite shared on Dangers of Open Water Swimming that One Can Avoid, which among other things offered advice to people who row themselves to work as a friend of mine does.

Brent Johnson himself presented on National and State Park Government Documents, which he suggested could be of interest to the “Sierra Club, hiking clubs, mountain bikers, rafting groups, and anyone looking for “active rest.””

His presentation started off with finding a park, mapping it, and then showing the different things you can do at a park with each use illustrated with a presumably public domain park photo.

What all three presentations had in common is that they brought government documents within the sphere of everyday interest. People these days want to defend themselves, often swim, and usually need somewhere to get away from it all. All three of the librarians figured out to take the eye-glazing subject of govdocs and make it relevant to an audience. Let’s give them a hand and think about how we can do the same. Because if we can’t make documents relevant, no one will care.