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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.

A Wiki for Presidential Libaries

Here is a very nice resource that makes use of modern technology (a collaborative wiki) to help users of Presidential Libraries.

The American Historical Association has a wiki (Archives Wiki) intended to be a clearinghouse of information about archival resources throughout the world. It has a page for each presidential library. (See list here.)

Although there is not a lot there yet, this is a place where historians can add comments, hints, problems, suggestions about using the resources at the Presidential libraries.

Wikis in Gov’t

[cross-posted from legalresearchplus.com]
by Paul

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an interesting “Information Age” article on its opinion page. L. Gordon Crovitz reports on a research project by Don Tapscott called “Government 2.0: Wikinomics, Government & Democracy.” “The goal is to use Web-based collaboration to ‘reinvent government’.” The WSJ piece reports that “[t]he federal government has launched several wikis . . . Intellipedia lets 37,000 officials at the CIA, FBI, NSA and other . . . agencies share information and even rate one enough for accuracy . . . Diplopedia lets State Department staff share information. . . . “

Help Build A World Health Resource

On April 9, 2008, Eamon Duffy posted the following announcement to govdoc-l that we at FGI felt was deserving of broader coverage:

The McGill Library Global Health Resource Wiki

wikisites.mcgill.ca/GlobalHealthGuide

The McGill Library has created a Global Health Resource Guide to promote collaboration and to share and organize knowledge about resources within the McGill community and beyond.

This resource guide was created as a wiki using MediaWiki software so that as many people as possible would be encouraged to both use the guide and add resources to it. All members of the McGill community – students, faculty, clinicians, researchers and staff – can add resources to the guide by logging in with their McGill user ID. Anyone in the international community with an interest in global health is welcome to use the guide for finding global health information and resources. If you are from an academic community outside of McGill, we encourage you to participate and contribute to the wiki. Contact us for a user ID if you would like to contribute resources or information to the guide.

To obtain more information, to comment or pass on suggestions for content, or to request a User ID to add resources and content, please contact one of these McGill librarians:

Eamon Duffy Government Information Service
Louisa Piatti Nahum Gelber Law Library
Jim Henderson Life Sciences Library
Deborah Meert Macdonald Campus Library
====================

Contact information for the above librarians can be found at http://wikisites.mcgill.ca/GlobalHealthGuide/index.php/McGill_Library_Global_Health_Resource_Guide:Contact_us

If you’re affiliated with an academic community or library and have some time to assist building this resource, we encourage you to help. It is one more way the the librarian community can show how it adds value to information.

OpenCongress Web 2.0 Tools for Your Library

Here is a great example of “Government Documents 2.0” in action: OpenCongress.org offers several Web 2.0 tools such as the OpenCongress Facebook application, where you can put bills that interest you on your Facebook profile. You can show your support or opposition to each bill, or simply remain neutral by selecting the “just following” option. Each bill links back to OpenCongress, so your patrons or friends can get all the information they need in order to understand and become involved with the issues themselves.

One of their Web 2.0 tools that I use for my GovGuides Wiki (a work in progress, mind you!), is the “Bill by Issue Widget“. I created one for the Environmental Law GovGuides Wiki page I’m working on. It displays the latest bills introduced in Congress on anything to do with environmental law enforcement.

If you are not familiar with OpenCongress, it’s a free, open-source, non-profit, and non-partisan web resource “with a mission to help make Congress more transparent and to encourage civic engagement”. OpenCongress is a joint project of the Sunlight Foundation and the Participatory Politics Foundation. It uses data provided by GovTrack.us, which collects data from official government websites, such as Thomas. For more info, see previous FGI posts about OpenCongress: My OpenCongress, Congress Remix, and FGI’s “Remixes page”.

OpenCongress makes it easy to understand each bill by giving a brief summary, who sponsored it, its status, and related bills. And yes, there are links to the full text of the bill and its voting history from Thomas. However, I do encourage students in my instruction classes to cite the original sources that OpenCongress leads them to, such as the full text of the bill from Thomas, congressional record references, or the homepages that OpenCongress links to for various committees and congressmen, etc. And of course I remind them that not everything is online, especially older government information, so they must turn to the print sources that I show them how to locate and use. By that time, the students are much more apt to pay attention and understand the importance of the exotic experience of handling/using the 1945 volume of the Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or a Congressional Record volume from 1918. 😉

I find OpenCongress to be a very user friendly and a convenient “one stop shop” for learning about legislation. Students in my library instruction classes seem to love using it, so if it gets them excited about government information, then I love it too!

Race and Law Wiki at Syracuse

The H. Douglas Barclay Law Library at the Syracuse University College of Law has created a Race and Law Research Wiki that it hopes will be a valuable inter-disciplinary resource for researchers.  The topical organization is based on a Race and Law course syllabus and textbook.  For each topic, researchers will currently find bibliographies and research guides; web resources and databases; and legislative and administrative material.  The wiki also includes sections on statistics, how to find books and articles, and suggestions for relevant news sources and blogs.  Emphasis in all categories is on electronic resources; however, some references to print sources have also been included.  Anyone interested in contributing to the wiki can contact the librarian in charge here.

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