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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.

Read all about the Fall 2009 DLC meeting!

Whether you were able to attend the Fall 2009 Depository Library Council meeting or not, don’t miss what is now online!

And, don’t forget that the presentation that Rebecca and I did on digital deposit is online here.

Spring ’09 DLC proceedings now available

GPO just announced that the proceedings for the Spring ’09 Depository Library Council meeting in Tampa are now available at fdlp.gov! We really appreciate GPO getting these out so quickly as there was a lot going on and there were a lot of people who could not attend due to the economic situation. We hope you’ll take some time to look through the proceedings, read the live blog and notes, and of course watch the video of Cass Hartnett’s reflections on a mid-career govt documents librarian.

Lunchtime listen: Cass Hartnett: reflections of a mid-career documents librarian

(Cross-posted on GODORT blog) At last week’s Spring ’09 Depository Library Conference in Tampa — which was, to remind everyone, live-blogged! — GODORT chair Cass Hartnett spoke on the topic “Reflections of a Mid-career Government Documents Librarian.” Cass’ talk was both thoughtful and thought-provoking. The video runs about an hour. During the talk, Cass handed out a list of 14 “memory questions.” After viewing the video, please share your answers to the questions in the comments section below. Thanks!

  1. An early library job
  2. technology
  3. an early career dream
  4. good committee you served on or good workshop attended, or both
  5. mentor(s) who helped you at the state/local level
  6. up and coming student/librarian who impressed you
  7. Washington D.C.
  8. Library user(s)
  9. future of FDLP
  10. government information in everyday life
  11. good article or book
  12. power of description
  13. digital amazement
  14. Web 2.0 triumph or trouble

Book Ripper (bkrpr) could facilitate small digitization projects

A post just now about recommendations for book scanners on code4lib reminded me of a comment from a Council member last week at Spring ’09 DLC. The Council member said that his relatively small academic library might not have the technical or monetary means to gear up a large scale digitization project, but that he was more than willing to pitch in with small projects or one-off digitizations if there was, for example, a list of items of importance from which he could pick and choose.

I commented then and will repeat now that digitization doesn’t necessarily mean a library has to purchase a high end digitization unit (aka the Scribe) from the Internet Archive for $15k — although I *love* the work that the Open Content Alliance (OCA) is doing!

A small project could easily be done with off-the-shelf hardware and open source software (The Scribe’s software is in fact freely available under a GPL license on SourceForge!). One such project that I’d recommend you look into is the Book Ripper project (bkrpr for short!). (Disclosure: my friend Karl Fogel is involved in bkrpr). They’ve even got instructions for building the camera mount. All the hardware is cheap and/or easy to build and the software is free and open source (they’re experimenting now with OCRopus for character recognition processing). Check it out!

Reflections on DLC Spring ’09 meeting

It’s hard to believe it’s been a week since the Spring ’09 Depository Library Council meeting in Tampa. The live-blogging didn’t work out as well as we’d hoped due to the wifi snafu (note to Hyatt Regency: WTF, there’s FREE wifi at Motel 6’s and their ilk, B&Bs etc, why would you charge a conference $150/day/person for wifi?! And why would you NOT have a T-Mobile Hotspot available for those who paid for wifi in their rooms?! ). On the plus side, I want to thank Shari Laster for uploading her notes to the live-blog interface and the several others (Altair77, reblakeley, danwho, rhonabwy, fakegodort, amyewest, vdglenn) who tweeted along with the conference. I put my notes up online for those who are interested. All notes and tweets have made their way into the live-blog interface.

This has been the first DLC in quite some time where the news and energy (at least for me!) has been more good than bad! Depository Library Council seemed more energetic (no offense intended to past Councils!) and had some very positive recommendations for GPO (see draft recommendations below). I’m most excited about the following:

  1. recommendation to request funding for grants to states for collaborative digitization projects
  2. recommendation to coordinate collaborative digitization projects

I’m not so jazzed on the recommendation to hire an outside consultant (especially a marketing consultant!), but am willing to follow along on that one and see where it leads.

I had lots of fruitful discussions with people. At one point in the Council session, someone on council asked the audience how many libraries were willing to work with GPO on digital deposit and local, distributed preservation and at least 15 hands went up right away!

People are really interested in increased access and cataloging. there’s interest from quite a few depositories to reduce (some want to greatly reduce) their paper collections and only have digital. Toward that end, Chris Brown from UDenver had a great presentation on his nifty item selection tool (way to go Chris!). But there was also equally positive energy in the crowd that paper collections should not be discounted.

The thing that really warmed my heart was that the idea of digital deposit is *finally* gaining real traction. There’s interest in actual digital deposit of those digital docs rather than simply having links to GPO in bibliographic records. AND, GPO officials seem genuinely interested in working on digital deposit as part of a distributed preservation plan (OMG!!! can’t hardly believe that!). I’d love to hear peoples’ thoughts on how digital deposit should work.

On the not-so-good side, the first session on Monday was reserved for statements from University Librarians (ULs) housing FDLP collections. From their statements, I got the feeling that documents librarians need to do a LOT more talking to our ULs. To a person, the UL perspective was that paper collections need to be digitized NOW because documents collections take up space too valuable for documents ghettos, space that they’d like to use for other (sexier?) things. I was disappointed that many of the ULs didn’t stay for the other 2 days of conference because they would have seen that in fact the depository community is doing many positive things to make documents collections more useful and findable, docs librarians are working hard to reduce or save time spent on depository processes and that there are some really exciting collaborative initiatives starting to bubble up and move forward.

I’d love to hear others’ reflections on DLC Spring ’09. Please post in the comments sections.

DLC spring ’09 Tampa NOTES WEDNESDAY

Council recommendations:

These are draft since council has not finished.

1) to meet the goals of providing no fee, permanent public access, Council recommends that GPO hire an outside consultant to deliver a range of models on how libraries can better provide govt information to the public in the 21st century for consideration by council. This consultant report will reconsider the operations of the FDLP in the context of the electronic age and possible future teechnologies. This reconsideration will address how best to maintain and utilize tangible legacy collections and US govt digital assets to best meet the information needs of the American public.

Rationale: based on feedback from the community, council feels it is crucial to have a neutral outside party develop possible new scenarios for the 21st century FDLP.

(Bernadine Abbott Hoduski suggests that GPO request JCP to get GAO to look into this rather than an outside consultant.)

2) Council further recommends that GPO request funding for grants to states (“states” to be wordsmithed) for collaborative digitization projects.

Rationale: as information users rely more and more heavily on electronic resources, it is crucial that the legacy got documents collection be digitized.

3) council further recommends that GPO create a list of libraries willing to participate in collaborative digitization projects and take the lead in coordinating these projects.

Rationale: GPO needs to take a more active role in coordination of the digitization of legacy collection. Council further feels that commercial sector digitization projects with access restrictions do not diminish GPO and FDLP responsibility to provide no fee, permanent public access to digital versions of govt publications.

4) Council further recommends that GPO report at fall 2009 meeting on efforts to simplify the discard process.

Rationale: depository discard process is extremely time consuming and burdensome for both selectives and regionals. As pressures grow both in large and small selectives to reduce collection size, the process needs to be speedier and less staff intensive.

There will be other recommendations (currently drafting) regarding item selection, quality control, dark archives, and weeding material.

Council adjourned.