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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.

Check out these .gov webinars, training opportunities and crowdsourcing projects while you’re telecommuting during COVID-19

This surely is a surreal time as counties around the San Francisco Bay area are issuing “shelter in place” orders until at least April 7, 2020 and other cities around the country have already or will soon be following suit in order to try and curb the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As we scramble to find work for our library staff, here’s a reminder that the .gov domain (International, Federal, state and local!) is a great place to find webinars and other training opportunities as well as pitching in on some amazing crowdsourcing projects from agencies like the Library of Congress and National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Here are just a few examples for readers to explore. Let us know in the comments if you have other favorites.


Given that the Census 2020 is currently being mailed to households around the country, now’s a great time to explore all of the webinars from the US Census Bureau. They’ve got recorded webinars and courses/workshops going back to 2015 on their site covering topics from data tools, population characteristics, housing, data visualization, census data with R and so much more!

Another awesome place for webinars about government information is the “Help! I’m an Accidental Government Information Librarian” webinar series which has been hosted by the North Carolina Library Association since 2011(!). All have been recorded and available on their site as well as on YouTube. You’ll find webinars covering local, state, US and international government information — and even a few done by your friendly FGI writers on saving government data and fugitive documents hunting!

There are so many webinars out there in the .gov domain, and even some that are suitable for middle- and high school students (the younger kids might want to check out Ben’s Guide from GPO for a fun learning opportunity!). The best way to find these is to do a google search for “webinars site:*.gov” or “webinars site:*.un.org” or “webinars site:worldbank.org” (or put in your favorite government agency url after “site: “).

Crowdsourcing projects:

Crowdsourcing is another great way to use your “shelter in place” time for a good library/archives cause. Here are just a few:

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Citizen Archivist Dashboard. NARA has opened up their treasure trove of archival records of the US government so that citizens can tag, transcribe, and add comments to NARA’s records, making them more accessible and searchable. Explore all of NARA’s “missions.” There’s something there for everyone.

The Library of Congress launched its By the People (crowd.loc.gov) in the fall of 2018. The application invites everyone to transcribe, review, and tag digitized images of manuscripts and typed materials from the Library’s collections. There are so many campaigns to choose from. I’ve been chipping in on the Walt Whitman at 200 project which has been amazing since he’s one of my favorite poets.

While not technically .gov, the Zooniverse is a great platform that brings together researchers, scientists, academics with citizens in a many-hands-make-light-work manner. Projects that are in need of citizens with time and an internet connection run the gamut from arts, biology, climate, history, language, literature, medicine, to physics and space. One of my favorites actually IS a .gov project called “Old weather” where scientists seek help in transcribing Arctic and worldwide weather observations recorded in ship’s logs since the mid-19th century. This started as a British Navy project, but NARA became involved and brought logbooks of the US Navy into the project. There’s so much to explore in the zooniverse for librarians, staff and even their kids!

FGI Webinar “Disappearing govt information” to GPLNE tomorrow 10/24 @ 2pm EST

UPDATE 4/7/2020: GPO has taken down the audio recording. It’s been uploaded and made available at the Internet Archive. Thanks again Andrew!

UPDATE 10/25/17: Our slides and notes are now up. You can view them in Google slides (go into the settings to view both the slides and speaker notes) or if you prefer, you can download the powerpoint slides + notes or as PDF+notes (smaller file) directly from us! And here’s the link to the audio recording.

Tune in tomorrow at 2pm EST for the FGI Webinar “Disappearing govt information” (our actual title will be “Government information: everywhere and nowhere”) to GPLNE – Government Publications of New England tomorrow 10/24 @ 2pm EST. You can log in to the public link hosted by GPO. We’ll be sure to post the slides, notes and audio here as soon as they’re available.

Lunchtime listen: Help! webinar on Homeland Security Digital Library now available

I was signed up for the Help! webinar on Homeland Security Digital Library, but unfortunately was unable to make the session. But luckily, all sessions are recorded and posted along with slides for future access on their site. This was a particularly interesting session presented by Greta Marlatt, the Outreach and Collection Development Manager for the Naval Postgraduate School’s Dudley Knox Library and the Content Manager for the Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL). Greta pointed out several interesting aspects to the HSDL site:

  • Compile hearing transcripts, prepared testimonies and video links from Committee pages
  • Get permissions for hosting publications from other agencies and organizations (similar to our Everyday Electronic Materials (EEMs) project described earlier)
  • Weekly email alerts for targeted search strategies
  • Post CRS reports
  • Homeland security related blogs aggregated

I think it’s especially interesting that Greta and her team are compiling govt information and hosting digital files from other agencies and organizations. I highly recommend going back and listening to this presentation and ALL of the past Help! webinars!!

Kudos to Lynda Kellam and the rest of the group of North Carolina librarians putting out these interesting and informative Help! I’m an Accidental Government Information Librarian Webinars!

The Government Resources Section of the North Carolina Library Association welcomes you to a series of webinars designed to help us all do better reference work by increasing our familiarity with government information resources, and by discovering the best strategies for navigating them.

The Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) is the nation’s premier research collection of open-source resources related to homeland security policy, strategy and organizational management. The HSDL is sponsored by the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Preparedness Directorate, FEMA.

Greta Marlatt is the Outreach and Collection Development Manager for the Naval Postgraduate School’s Dudley Knox Library and the Content Manager for the Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL). She has over 30 years of experience working in libraries in various capacities. Ms. Marlatt has published several articles and is the author of a number of bibliographies and help guides for topics relating to Intelligence, Information Warfare, Special Operations, Homeland Security, Mine Warfare, Directed Energy Weapons, NBC Terrorism and more. She has given numerous presentations on topics related to conducting research in the homeland security and military arenas. Ms. Marlatt holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Arizona State University, a Master of Library Science degree from the University of Arizona and a Master of Arts degree in National Security Studies from California State University, San Bernardino.

Want to know about ICPSR? well here’s a webinar for you

If you’re an aspiring (or accidental) data librarian, or just want to know more about Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), then here’s a webinar for you!

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

This session will cover effective search strategies, ICPSR’s bibliography of data-related literature, our growing tools associated with the social science variables database, and more!

This session is for those who are searching for research data or teaching tools and those who are helping others to find data or teaching tools.
Title: Hands-Ons with ICPSR – Discovering ICPSR Data
Date: Monday, February 25, 2013
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EST
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

DLC 2012 proceedings now online and free O’Reilly webinar on metadata sharing

For those that missed the fall 2012 Depository Library Conference — and for those who want to go back and check their notes — you’ll be happy to know that the DLC conference proceedings are now online! There were many informative and interesting sessions of course. But one in particular I’d like to highlight was Chris Brown’s presentation, “Fiche Online: A Vision for Digitizing All Documents Fiche” (PDF). I’m excited to see that Chris Brown is moving ahead with this project as I’ve been thinking of a project similar to this for a long time — and have been requesting purchase of a scanner able to do batch scanning for a few years in order to work on this (one of these days, that proposal will get funded!). But what really piqued my interest was when Chris mentioned that he’d like to change the mindset on digitization projects. He called for not only digitization, but the public sharing of metadata (he called it a “record distribution model”). In this model, digitizing libraries would make their records available via harvest/FTP or some other method and other libraries would then be able to ingest those records into their own discovery environments. I wholeheartedly agree!!

Chris’ presentation and mind-shift proposal are connected to the following FREE O’Reilly webinar in which Pilar Wyman, the President of the American Society for Indexing (ASI), will discuss the very idea that Chris has proposed. Hope you can “attend”!

Adding Value with Metadata: Open up the Index
Friday, November 9, 2012
10AM PT, San Francisco
6pm – London | 1pm – New York | Sat, Nov 10th at 5am – Sydney | Sat, Nov 10th at 3am – Tokyo | Sat, Nov 10th at 2am – Beijing | 11:30pm – Mumbai

Presented by: Pilar Wyman

Duration: Approximately 60 minutes.

Cost: Free

In this webcast presentation we’ll explore new paths for reusing content metadata for discovery and recommendations. Indexes are one of the most detailed metadata sets available for your content, and can be used to search, recommend, explore, and create buyers for your publications.

We’ll talk about:

  • baseline metadata
  • semantic markup
  • whether you need controlled vocabularies across multiple publications
  • displaying mashups of multiple indexes
  • incorporating social input

About Pilar Wyman

Pilar Wyman is the President of the American Society for Indexing (ASI), the voice of excellence in indexing. A veteran freelance indexer with her own successful business, she is also an active member of the ASI Digital Trends Task Force, which was formed in 2011 to address the continuing and rapidly increasing evolution of book publishing from traditional print to eBook formats. The DTTF was a key player in the recent International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) inclusion of indexes in the EPUB standard, and continues to work with the IDPF Indexes Working Group. Within her own indexing and via the DTTF, Pilar and ASI are currently engaged with publishers, hardware manufacturers, and software developers to design and create smart indexes for the digital age.