DLC Vision: Future Scenarios

"2021: A Depository Odyssey"

Dream up the future. What does government information look like?

Is HAL in charge of your depository library? Why, why not? Are you Dave, out in the cold? What does your service look like? Your collections? What do you do in a typical day?

For the final session of the Spring 2006 meeting of the Depository Library Council in Seattle we’d like to hear from you. What’s your “future scenario” for the Federal Depository Library Program, for government information?

Some elements to include:

  • collections - physical and electronic
  • services
  • collaboration
  • relationship with federal government - governance
  • structure of "system" (FDLP)
  • metadata - cataloging - invisible (virtual) finding aids - whatever you want to call it

Any others you can think of, or want to include.
Duncan Aldrich and Bill Sudduth have dreamed up their versions of the FDLP in 2015 or 2021. Does it look like your vision?

Please email your Future Scenarios to bselby@virginia.edu.
You can also read and comment on any Future Scenarios that have been posted.

We'll collect the future scenario's posted and discuss them at the final session of DLC, Wednesday, 10:30am, in Seattle.

So, take charge, BE HAL! Let us know what you'd like the future to be. Let us know what you think the future will be.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

1. Library Roles in the Non-Exclusive Environment

Pivotal to any discussion of government information provision is the ubiquitous internet. No longer do citizens, students, tax payers have to come to the depository library for government information. Despite the “digital divide,” the government is more and more often providing its information exclusively via the internet. Where does that leave Federal Depository Libraries?

  • In what ways, if any, might FDLs be necessary in the non-exclusive environment?
  • What is the role of libraries generally and FDLs in particular?
  • To what extent are all libraries in some way government information access centers?
  • There is a new diversity among FDLs, ranging from service centers to power collections - how do these mix?
  • Only libraries? How might we collaborate with potential partners like the Memory Hole or Way Back Machine?
  • How does the FDLP position itself where users are (Google; point-of-use; regional information; other?)?


  • Only libraries? How might we collaborate with potential partners like the Memory Hole or Way Back Machine?

    Another potential partner to consider, for "legacy" items and for the minority of content published exclusively in tangible format (some Congressional hearings & committee prints) is Google Print, whose contracts give a digital file to the library providing the tangible item.

    Maggie Farrell of the University of Wyoming outlines this potential win-win strategy in her excellent editorial "Google and Government Documents", published in Government Information Quarterly 22 (2005), p. 143-145.

    Plus, it's a plus to partner with someone who has a lot of dough!

    Thanks very much for this public and transparent process of generating a new vision for government information!

    By Blogger Daniel, at August 03, 2005 12:35 PM  

  • Ways FDLs Might Be Necessary

    Reference expertise is fairly obvious. Charles Seavey talked about the "deep web" in his American Libraries article. Just because something is available on the web doesn't mean the public knows how to use it (e.g. American Factfinder) or understand what it means (why did this bill disappear, what is the right NAICS code?) Of course, finding on the web may require a user to know which agency does what (EPA may just have info about that chemical plant 3 blocks away). And it may not be on the web at all.

    A second role is certainly preservation. Despite the government's best intent in 2005, there is no assurance that it will continue to preserve its information or migrate it to a new format. Some of those 1990 Census Subject CDs are languishing.

    By Anonymous Grace, at August 03, 2005 2:40 PM  

  • Some of the ways that FDL libraries might be needed in a non-exclusive environment are addressed in the UCSD paper Government Information in the Digital Age: The Once and Future Federal Depository Library Program.

    Also, I think that Grace is right that FDL's or some nonprofit, nongovernmental, long-term vision institution will need to take a leading role in preservation. In depth reference assistance (requiring knowledge of legislative processes, government structure, "data histories") will continue to be needed by researchers. If those kinds of services aren't provided by FDLs, they'll need to be provided by some kind of "government information specialists." Will non FDLs employ these kind of folks?

    By Blogger Daniel, at August 03, 2005 8:41 PM  

  • Two other DLC questions that I wanted to leave comments on are:

    "To what extent are all libraries in some way government information access centers? "

    Any internet-connected library is POTENTIALLY a government information access center, because most public federal information resources can be accessed over the Internet. BUT, either the patron or the library staff needs to know that the information is out there.

    For example, suppose someone comes in and wants to know the latest publicly available figure for people serving in the National Guard. Patrons and library staff unfamilar with government resources might do a google search on current national guard troop strength. Looking through the first page of google we find no official resources, but do find discussions of the current recruiting crisis. The second page is similar to the first, as are the third through fifth pages. Who goes deeper into google than that?

    Contrast that with a documents specialist who knows to go straight to the DoD's Directorate of Information Operations and Reports web site and chooses Selected Manpower Statistics for FY2003, the latest year available. Not only is the information immediately available in section 5 on reserve personnel, but now you can provide your patron with contact information to bug the Pentagon for information later than FY2003.

    "How does the FDLP position itself where users are (Google; point-of-use; regional information; other?)?"

    We have to start by finding out where users are. Who has done these kind of surveys? What have others done to get where the users are and how did they measure user response?

    In the meantime, GPO or some association should start buying Google AdWords - "Find out more about Agricultural Loans" @ your FDL!

    By Blogger Daniel, at August 03, 2005 9:02 PM  

  • GPO/Library Theory

    Just some background rather than a brilliant idea.

    GPO is a publisher. It is the exclusive publisher for Congress. No GPO, no legislative texts in LEXIS or Westlaw. It is also the preferred publisher for the rest of the government, but agencies aren't necessarily committed to using GPO. So GPO aggregates and hopefully preserves the information. GPO's guidelines for FDL are almost exclusively about "finding the publication." That's true of its Instructions: Public Services. The current Federal Depository Library Manual doesn't even have a section on public services. (It will soon).

    Libraries on the other hand "choose the publication" that best answers the user's need from a variety of depository and non-depository federal publications, not to mention local, state, international, foreign, and secondary sources.

    So whether any given library has a documents specialist is not necessarily dependent on GPO.

    Again, just background.

    By Blogger Gracie, at August 04, 2005 7:29 AM  

  • question for Gracie: since when has the GPO been considered the "preferred publisher for the rest of the government?"

    By Blogger John, at August 04, 2005 5:19 PM  

  • My take is that GPO usually functions as printer rather than publisher, terms which are often used interchangeably but in the case of federal publishing there's an important distinction between publisher and printer.

    The large number of fugitive documents demonstrates that federal agencies are doing a lot of publishing without using GPO as their printer.

    Which leads in to an issue Council is discussing as we work on the Vision document: as roles morph in the digital depository environment, might librarians take on a more formal role in harnessing the fugitive document problem?

    By Anonymous Duncan Aldrich, at August 05, 2005 2:47 PM  

  • One role for govpubs specialists will be to take advantage of in-house mechanisms for spreading our knowledge to non-specialists in a way that they can use it as they need to. Two examples:

    1. Institutional databases driving web sites: At the University of Minnesota, we have a database that underlies most pages on our site called Libdata. Every entry I add to Libdata, I treat as a mini-guide. I intentionally create entries to be usable by the non-specialists on staff; seems to be working moderately well. Also, I'm polite, but not shy, about asking to modify entries that are incomplete or inaccurate and were created by non-specialists. It's always because I want to use that entry and not make another, so it's not out of the blue and no one's ever turned me down.

    Another is to monitor in-house lists and contribute where appropriate. For example, while I am no longer actively chatting, I've continued to monitor our chat listserv in order to throw in comments on government resources where appropriate. My worry is always that people will be annoyed with me and maybe some are, but mostly I get thank you notes for making the whole topic seem a little less complicated than they thought.

    By Anonymous Amy West, at August 15, 2005 6:15 PM  

  • Hmm...should have read further down the home page; my comments should have gone under "Deploying Expertise". Oh well.

    By Anonymous Amy West, at August 15, 2005 6:21 PM  

  • The obvious has been said - libraries and FDLs are still useful as a means to help users with the myriad ways government information is now delivered. But we do need to be talking now about libraries, not just FDLs. FDLP libraries continue to have a major role regarding our legacy collections - in the new world our expertise in navigating government information will be useful until it all becomes part of one big Google in the sky!

    We can talk about people to partner with, but do they care? Do they need us? Perhaps if we can perfect a virtual government information reference desk with experts available all the time everywhere...but remember that many people wanting government information want to get their Social Security check or apply for a green card or a passport - services which used to be provided by Federal Information Centers, while libraries served up publications. Is there a line between information and service?

    Regarding one earlier post, this discussion is about libraries and the FDLP, not about GPO. Government information comes from GPO and many other places - we need to be able to move seamlessly from one to the next, and partner with all.

    By Anonymous Julie, at August 16, 2005 5:42 PM  

  • Julie's point about wondering whether non-librarians will even care reminds me of something someone said to me a few months ago.

    He works for a state agency, understands the ramifications of loss of government information, etc. and *still* said, "Hey, I don't think about government information. But when I need it, I expect it to be there." This is perfectly reasonable to my mind (I mean, I don't generally think about emergency services, but I expect them to be in place when I need them) and likely represents a whole lot of people out there.

    So, whatever plans we make need to be able to succeed even if we can't generate constant interest among non-librarians about govdocs.

    By Anonymous Amy West, at August 17, 2005 6:35 PM  

  • I think what everyone is missing in this discussion is the complete lack of any attempt by GPO to get Federal Agencies to notify the FDLP about the publication of online government documents. GPO is allowing Agencies to ignore their responsibilities under Title 44.

    If GPO turned toward Agencies with the full force and support of FDLP member libraries and their consituents, then maybe the Agencies would establish good information management practices to identify content and notify GPO of its release. GPO could cast itself as a partner in the dissemination of government information and could contribute rich metadata and categorization that benefits FDLP libraries AND the Agencies that produce the information.

    Unfortunately, I don't think GPO has the muscle because of the invisible wall between the Legislative and Executive Branches. I also think that the FDLP community has such a feeling of entitlement that they can't get off the cross long enough to understand that what is needed are relationships with the publishing Agencies.

    By Anonymous GovLibrarian, at August 19, 2005 9:40 AM  

  • The comments below reference the Library Roles in the Non-Exclusive Environment of the September 2005 Depository Library Council publication The Federal Government Information Environment of the 21st Century: Towards a Vision Statement and Plan of Action for Federal Depository Libraries. Discussion Paper

    My general comments on this paper appeared in another blog posting.

    As I work through each section of the discussion paper, I'll start out with positive aspects and then move onto what I view are problems with the DLC paper. I strongly believe in finding common ground whenever possible. We shouldn't turn this discussion into a "us vs. them" dynamic.

    The DLC rightly points out that the government information environment is much more diverse than in the past. They also point out correctly in my view that most people's first approach to locating government information is trying the web. The authors also sensibly ask what it means to be a depository library when so much government information is available on the web.

    I believe there are a few mistaken assumptions/arguments in this section of the discussion paper.

    First, the authors appear portray the end-users' options as either visiting their local depository, OR getting their information from a gov't web server. I don't see any other way to spin the assertion:

    "The public increasingly favors direct access to Web-based federal information over the alternative of visiting a local FDL. (p. 3)"

    But this is a false choice even if everyone wanted all of their information over the Internet. If depositories accepted deposit of fully functional electronic files, these could be mounted on their servers, which would then be available to the Internet at large. People wouldn't necessarily know or care they were getting a depository copy of a web document, but preservation, access, and privacy would be served by having multiple copies outside the total control of one institution.

    I'm not sure that believing that most everyone goes to the web for gov't information is necessarily true either. I acknowledge that many people do their information seeking online. To deny this is madness, even though 32% of Americans do not use the Internet at all, and 44% of Americans with Internet access have dialup which is NOT suitable for downloading large PDF files. We may also be missing the 74% of Americans over 65 who do not use the Internet, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

    While not a majority, these offline users represent 96 million Americans who are disproportionly older and rural. One can argue these folks aren't interested in government information, but how do we know that? Has anyone tried to measure knowledge or interest among offline users? Perhaps we need more research before making sweeping generalizations.

    The discussion paper talks about "smart indexing" from Google and other search engines to find government information. I'd like a definition of this general term. While Google is good for many things, it has some specific weaknesses as an index to government information:

    +It's secret algorithm relies heavily on links to materials to indicate relevance. While this isn't much of a problem for popular topics and resources, solid but less well known resources won't be ranked as high as commerical sites with similar key words.

    +Google is unable to index the deep-web and password protected databases, so users might not get appropriate information from STAT-USA and other databases.

    +It can be hard for the general user to distinguish between government provided and commercial or advocacy group data.

    Another problem I see with this section that abounds thoughout the whole paper is a confusion between Federal Depository Libraries and what I'll call "government information service centers." I personally feel that it is misleading to call something a depository when it is not receiving materials. Having links in your catalog is different from having custody of the materials. If DLC or GPO wants to establish a new class of libraries, they should say so clearly.

    As this commentary is getting long, I'll conclude with a final false choice of the discussion paper - The three futures of for the FDLP cited on page four. These "futures" are Fold, Status Quo, and Proactive. While the "Proactive" future is a little brighter than the other two, the depository program still becomes "moot." This "mootness" comes despite the assertion that "Some FDLs build digital collections as light archives or as LOCKSS (or alternative future technology) participants." If the status of FDLs become increasingly moot, it sounds like the "light archives" are done by libraries on their own and not under a formal program.

    I would like to see an option in the final paper that provides a formal system of light archives built with the active cooperation of the Government Printing Office and other agencies. Call it the "To infinity and beyond" option if you want, but please include it as an option.

    Tomorrow I will look at adding value.

    By Blogger Daniel, at September 07, 2005 5:03 PM  

  • Daniel - Thanks again for your various contributions to the Blog and to the discussion regarding the FDLP future generally. An important contribution you make aside from invigorating the dialog is providing welcome editorial assistance, particularly of the sort where what seemed clear to the author (Council) is not particularly clear to the reader.

    In your posting dated Sep 7 you very correctly note that Council uses the acronym FDL in reference both to FDLP libraries receiving materials on deposit and to those potentially opting not to collect items but rather serve as "government information service centers." We certainly see the inconsistency in wording which has been brought up in previous efforts to envision the future of the program. In fact legislation introduced to revise Title 44 in the late 1990s with the support of ALA, AALL, and other library associations proposed changing the name to "Federal Information Access Program" to reflect the potential shift among some FDLs away from collecting toward the "access center" role.

    Rather than revisit earlier iterations of this discussion Council opted simply to use FDL with the assumption that in the future "program" libraries may select to receive from zero (or negligible) to 100%. I think a more important point of clarification is that the authors assumed that digital light depositories and LOCKSS sites will receive items on deposit through some coordinated distribution (put or get) system – as you describe it “a formal system of light archives built with the active cooperation of the Government Printing Office and other agencies.” Hopefully the final envisioning document will clarify this.

    I’m going to switch gears here to a slightly different topic. Reading your comments helped me focus more clearly on a thought I’ve been grappling with for some time. It has to do with the concept of deposit, the question of redundancy beyond the authority of government, and the federal government’s ownership of materials they place under our custodianship. Given that GPO, at the bequest of the publishing agency, has had the authority to instruct FDLs to return or destroy materials they hold on deposit, perhaps it would make sense for the library community to build a series of light archives that are "done by libraries on their own and not under a formal program.” The words in quotes are yours though I’ve taken them a bit out of context. My reason for doing so is I believe this might be a very good idea – and may be the only real way to assure future access if the government initiates extreme (more extreme?) disinformation policies. Perhaps that is where the Way Back Machine comes in to the equation? Although this point is not directly an FDLP issue, but perhaps a significant one for we in the broader library community to consider.

    By Blogger Duncan Aldrich, at September 14, 2005 2:29 PM  

  • Duncan,

    Thanks for bringing this up! I'd like to encourage DLC to think about your idea carefully because, although what you propose might be as you say not *directly* an FDLP issue, I believe there are some very important things that DLC can include in its vision of the future that will help *enable* this. In fact, I do not think we should assume that it will be possible to do what you suggest without specific actions by GPO that DLC can suggest and encourage.

    Specifically, there are three problems we must overcome in order for anyone (libraries or individuals or organizations like the Internet Archive) to be able to get and hold digital government information:

    A) They (we) must be able to know something exists and be able to find it.

    B) We must be able to get a copy of it.

    C) We must be able to get a copy of it in a form that is usable and re-usable and not encumbered.

    There are, potentially, multiple obstacles to getting these things done and that is where DCL can come in. (Examples of obstacles: robots.txt exclusion files, DRM technologies, information that is stored in databases not as simple files, information that is locked behind technological doors making it possible for a user to get a single document, but hard for automated tools to get multiple documents, government web sites that include copyrighted materials. I have encountered every one of these things in trying to get government documents already. I doubt that things will get easier.)

    So, what can DLC do? Get GPO to guarantee these three things I've mentioned before:

    1. Guarantee that GPO will provide information products for free to the public and that those products will be fully-functional and not encumbered, disabled, controlled or otherwise non-optimal or locked-down versions.

    2. Guarantee that GPO will make available for deposit, without fee, into FDLP libraries that wish to receive them, all fully functional digital government information products within its purview.

    3. Reject the use of any of digital rights management and related technologies that can be used to monitor use of government information or disable access or functionality after release.

    How would that help?

    Guarantees 1 and 2 together take care of problems A and B (finding out that something exists and getting copies into the hands of the public and libraries.) Guarantee 2 further helps with problems A and B by increasing the likelihood that a user can find what they need and get a copy by providing multiple access points, multiple finding aids, etc.

    Guarantee 3 takes care of problem C by making sure that the actual digital information products are usable and reusable and fully-functional and not encumbered. This means that once a library or anyone has a copy, they will be able to post it and repost it and everyone will be able to use it and reuse it. "Documents" would not be technologically "withdrawable."

    One last thought. I do believe that the simple act of officially depositing digital materials in depository libraries (guarantee 2) helps protect those items from being withdrawn. It is very, very easy for a government agency to silently and without notification remove a file from its own server. It is a very, very different thing for an agency to adhere to SOD requirements, notify the public, send notifications to (potentially) hundreds of independent libraries, follow up, etc. In short, the mere fact of deposit makes it more difficult for government to alter or withdraw information.



    By Anonymous James A. jacobs, at September 15, 2005 5:14 PM  

  • "Pivotal to any discussion of government information provision is the ubiquitous internet. No longer do citizens, students, tax payers have to come to the depository library for government information."

    This statement should prompt a series of questions and discussion of them:

    - Does the current state of access to government information from government web servers guarantee permanent access?

    - Will citizens continue to have access to all government information they need from government web servers?

    - Will the government continue to provide free access to fully-functional government information?

    - Will government always provide access to government information and protect the privacy of readers?

    "Despite the "digital divide," the government is more and more often providing its information exclusively via the internet. Where does that leave Federal Depository Libraries?"

    - It leaves FDLs with the same responsibilities they have always had: to ensure long-term, no-fee access to government information while protecting the privacy of users.

    "In what ways, if any, might FDLs be necessary in the non-exclusive environment?"

    - see below.

    "What is the role of libraries generally and FDLs in particular?"

    - Libraries have many roles. These roles include: selecting, acquiring, organizing, and preserving information; providing services for and access to that information; protecting the privacy of readers and users of that information; providing information without fees.

    - Society needs organizations that have the complete mix of all of these roles as their primary mission (not a secondary mission or a by-product of publishing or dissemination or making money). In the case of government information in a participatory democracy it is particularly important, even essential, that society have such organizations. Reliance on those who have some, but not all, of these roles will ensure that some of these roles will go unfulfilled. Reliance on organizations that have some or all of these roles as a secondary mission or by-product of another mission will endanger free access to information, preservation and integrity of information, the privacy of readers, and risk the loss of information.

    - What would you call an organization that fulfills all the roles listed above but "a library"? Since we already have a network of legislatively authorized libraries, what reason can we have for abrogating the responsibility and ability we already have in hopes that someone else will become the new library of the future? Doing so would either require rebuilding what we already have, or it would guarantee losing what we already have.

    "To what extent are all libraries in some way government information access centers?"

    - All libraries will have the possibility of providing better access to government information -- but not all libraries will have the full responsibility of fulfilling all the roles of a depository library as outline above.

    "There is a new diversity among FDLs, ranging from service centers to power collections - how do these mix?"

    - The mix can be very similar to what we see in the paper and ink world. Some libraries will have small collections, frequently weeded; others will have large collections that the preserve for a long time. Most libraries will have collections of materials focusing on a particular clientele (k-12, college, university, agriculture, medicine, law, etc.). Some libraries will have advanced digital-library software and collections, others will have small collections of (for example) pdf files on cd-roms and public service PCs. Some FDLs may even wish to provide only service and no collections, but such libraries would not be depositories anymore.

    - A "service center" is to information what a travel agent is to travel: it has no control over resources. While travel agents are potentially useful, we have seen that most users do not use travel agents, even if they provide "better" travel arrangements. Similarly, an FDLP that provides only "service centers" will be dooming itself to irrelevance.

    "Only libraries? How might we collaborate with potential partners like the Memory Hole or Way Back Machine?"

    - FDLs should both collaborate with and facilitate the work of others in the use and re-use of information. FDLs could feed information to such organizations and accept new information from them and guarantee long-term storage and access. FDLs should not, however, mistake the mission of such organizations for their own mission.

    "How does the FDLP position itself where users are (Google; point-of-use; regional information; other?)?"

    - FDLs should have collections of information and provide that information on the web. (To do this, we'll need to have information that we control)

    - FDLs should also create, and share metadata through OAI and RSS and similar future technologies.

    - FDLs should provide new and useful organizations and views of the universe of information so that users can more easily find information. (Relying on a single view such as FDSys or a single functionality of provision would be a tragic under-utilization of digital information' potential.)

    By Anonymous James A. Jacobs, at October 09, 2005 12:43 PM  

  • Depository Library Council
    Fall 2005 Meeting
    Notes from Breakout Session & Notes and Comments submitted by participants

    Library Roles in the Non-Exclusive Environment
    Monday October 17, Morning and Afternoon Sessions

    Mark Sandler moderator, Pete Hemphill observer, Duncan Aldrich recorder

    Question 1: Do you agree with the statement: “The web has become the preferred medium through which the public seeks access to information, including government information?” If not, why not? If so, what implications, beyond those in the DLC paper, does this have for government information libraries and professionals?

    From an academic library perspective, most in our group agree that end users prefer the web because people feel proficient in searching – unfortunately they think if they don’t find it it isn’t there. A problem is that owing to lack of standardization the Web obscures many things, particularly the dark web – many things are not apparent to the layman.

    Again academic, most in group agree that the web is preferred channel – with the exception of few items that is. Two impacts: 1) there is a complete change in our role as intermediaries; we are no longer talking to them, no longer the gate keepers; and 2) no way of knowing if our patrons are not getting what they need.

    From a public library perspective, for some the preferred medium is the Web. But many public library visitors don’t use the Internet. Public libraries have resource barriers, leading to such policies as one hour limit on using the Internet. Many users don’t want to use the Web. And don’t assume that all users -- even the educated -- surf the Web. That is the future, but we are currently in a transitional environment.

    Mixed academic and public. There is a difference between finding and using full text on the Web. Many users want text based things in tangible. Comment indicating concern that digital items not be deselected if they are infrequently used – that is, we should as a policy and practice continue to maintain digital items even if statistics indicate non-use.

    Mixed group. Agree that Web is preferred access medium. Implications include people want self sufficiency much like using an ATM. So what do we do? We need to make sure as much information as possible is on the Web, we need to provide helpful information on the Web.

    The case was made that the Web is a tool, an index, a mechanism for federated searching, but is not necessarily a preferred access channel. Patrons are seeking human interaction and confirmation particularly when the Web fails, in addition to completeness, and they don't necessarily "prefer" convenience to those traits.

    From a group of academics. The Web as preferred medium is shrouded in shades of gray. There are the young pups who like it and older folks who are intimidated. Then a middle ground. Big downloads are a problem, statistical things can be a problem -- users come back wanting tangible. What kind of support do we provide for these people? We need to do a lot of PR that we are there to help them. Leading them to the right source and right part.

    Academic group. Web is preferred, but they generally are not looking specifically for government documents -- they are looking for answers. Given the mainstreaming of docs the Web entails, there is a necessity of documents librarians working with other librarians.

    Academic group. All agreed in general that web is preferred. Librarians are becoming the last rather than first resort. There are implications for collection building.

    A mostly academic group - age and background may make a difference in preference or not for the Web. Law libraries also see a difference – researching is useful, but you may prefer tangible for content. Context is important.

    Participant comment – academic. Even if it’s not the preferred medium for researchers or students, it is definitely the preferred medium for publishers. Somebody that wants to stay in business needs to be online.

    Mixed academic/ state. There is a difference in user preferences, academic versus non-academic. But more user search behavior is going-on on the Web. Implication is that information users need to know better how to discriminate information sources they retrieve, especially on the Web. There is an educational charge for librarians – roles for librarians and teaching faculty – a societal need.

    Academic group -- It depends on what folks are looking for, some things they’re not going to find anyway. Foreign relations series, you won’t find it. A librarian needs to make that happen for them.

    Mixed group - primary information behavior of the end user is on the Web. They use Google rather than a good library catalog search engine.

    State Library – they want to find it on the Web but want to print it out rather than reading it on the Web. Finding it in smaller sections, chapter by chapter for example.

    Question 2: In what ways, if any, might FDLs be necessary in the non-exclusive environment?

    Mostly academic group. Preservation, expertise, adding value, linking collections, ensures neutrality, authenticity, education, critical thinking, information literacy, concept of collections as discrete subject bound.

    Academic and law group. Location location location. Web gives us opportunity for a central steering point for our users. We need to be out there on the web showing our users what’s available – prominent doc desks get more traffic. We need to have deposit of digital files.

    Academic and state. First point is that FDLs are providing infrastructure of access – places where people can go to help people who come in. Infrastructure is both people and PC hardware/software. Second point is expertise – those of us who are active in the community can be seen as go-to people. We can draw on our serial set expertise, for example.

    Mix of academic, state, and agency. Wider focus, what is the purpose of the program in electronic? The number one thing we want from program is training. Best thing we can do with this information is evangelize. Everyone who has access to docs on the Web COULD be a documents librarian, so let’s engage libraries not in the program. GPO can help with promotion of the training the trainers.

    Participant comment. There is an extraordinarily steep learning curve to know government docs.

    Participant comment. In the past there was the carrot of print materials, would like to see a program where there is still the commitment without that specific carrot.

    Participant comment. Without a program we will lose expertise.

    Participant comment. We all need to realize that whether we survive or not we need to consider/influence the missions in our institutions. We need our administrators and institutional administrators to support us – we need to strongly promote as council and other professional groups to convince our administrations.

    Participant comment. A vital need is for a minimal set of standards for FDL public service. The public should expect that there is a standardized level of service for access to the tax paid for information regardless of which FDL they enter.

    Participant comment. We need the library associations, the library community, and other stakeholder communities to promote our issues.

    Participant comment. Think of what government information was before GODORT and council. This is fundamental reason for some sort of system.

    Mixed academic and public group. Public librarians in the group feel our role is absolutely the same. The medium has changed, but the work is the same. An academic view is that users really want to do it themselves, do their own searches – so what is the role of librarians in helping to improve these systems? How can we influence Google?

    Participant comment. There is no uniformity of interface among agency webs. Librarians can ease access in this environment. What is our role and how do we make things happen when there are system failures?

    Participant comment. What is the difference between having the items and linking to them? This means the community is important in assisting users connect to what they need.

    Participant comment. Students want it fast and their way. Regardless of how good the search is they will do it their way. Their way is they want the answer right there.

    Participant comment. Suggestion that that we don’t need the FDLP at all. We could coordinate this through our associations. Are we limiting our opportunities and imagination by sticking to the past and not thinking out of the FDLP box?

    Participant comment. Disagrees with the above suggestion, but we can’t rely on the GPO for everything.

    Participant comment. As with Browse Topics, to be successful as a partner with the FDLP you need a marketing plan for your partnership product and then sign on with GPO. Working with GPO you get the FDLP stamp of approval.

    Participant comment. Strongly disagrees with suggestion regarding a community coordinated program, we are the asset as people. Designation gives us the expertise, gives us a rationale for belonging.

    Moderator question. Perhaps other forms of organization -- such as Asian Bibliographers -- can work.

    Participant response. The difference is that we are not department oriented, we are interdisciplinary.

    Participant comment. If you think of form following function, what is the most effective way to distribute fed government to the people?

    Participant comment. I’ve previously worked at a private institution. For some places being FDLP is the only entrée into the institution. If they are not an FDLP they don’t need to provide access and they may be the only local place where there could be access.

    Question 3: How might “deposit” of digital federal information work? How would libraries and GPO ensure that such files were authentic and unaltered? How would users know when there is a newer version of a file?

    Academics and public. We expect the technicians to do that for us. Do all libraries have the desire or capacity? Participant speaking says she will be a portal. However, there needs to be some institutions that will take the lead in deposit and others may follow later.

    Participant comment. Cornel has been an active partner with USDA economic units, it pushes about 2.5 million documents each year as emails or downloads. In last two years have picked up the agricultural marketing service. About 2200 active titles. Repository going 10 years backward. Yet this is an extremely small slice of the overall possible content. Has involved much retraining. Would like go into partnership with other agriculture libraries to provide collaborative reference service on the Cornell digital collection that would provide the opportunity for more advanced user services. Push is pretty easy, public service support of end users by a single institution is a major issue. Those that want to collect should be encouraged, those who don’t should find other ways to contribute.

    Participant comment. Regarding the question of authenticity, LOCKSS is a solution for authentication by its polling process. All copies in the LOCKSS service are checked for consistency with all other copies. If one is corrupted the others are still there – and the corrupted one is replaced. Potential problems – make sure that the items pushed are of a high standard quality. Also needs to be a mandate that the materials have free public access.

    Participant comment. Who gets pushed what? Does their need to be a push registry. Need a lot of redundancy. Do we want to push documents, use emulation, are we re-emulating locally, or should we just push metadata.

    Observer question. What level of control do libraries want over their servers? What about GPO deleting things from our servers? Do we have human resources to check every item pushed to us?

    Participant response. Do not have resources to vet every item.

    Participant response. Versioning should answer this question.

    Participant response. Cornell has some practices and policies regarding intervention in swaps of corrected files. This is keyed to whether the change is more or less that 5%.

    Moderator question. Is there a distinction between scrapping from the Web and getting actual source files

    Capstone comment from Participant. My shop has seven librarians. We have a vested interest in this. What Mann (Cornell) does for us is great. Server protection is heavy at our place. But our interest continues to be what service can the smaller places provide, and we need to support the Cornell’s and other places politically.

    Participant comment. If you’ve followed the (Visioning) blog you know the issues. The blog comments describe the traditional model -- send items in a fixed format, and the item is then under the care of the library. Blog has raised a reasonable premise that government information should not be under the control of the government that produces it. Will the documents continue to be served up to the public? A good case can be made for GPO pushing certain documents or data sets to libraries that have the capability to receive and curate. GPO has agreed that they agree – LOCKSS demonstrates this. What library is going to have the staff and resources to maintain this locally into perpetuity. No one in the group he was in would step up to the plate on the perpetuity issue.

    Academic group. There was much discussion of pushing files. Very few libraries will be able to make the commitment, but the opportunity for trial projects is good. GPO and the FDLP community really need to have a framework to try out some possibilities, along the lines of partnership. Not a good idea to have lots of files just hanging out there. Does the institution have the same commitment as the individual who started the project – this needs to be part of the framework discussion.

    Participant comment. Whether my institution can contribute to it isn’t up to me. I need to sell the idea to a bunch of other people. I don’t have a good sense of what kind of a commitment we would be making.

    Observer question. What level of support are institutional administrators willing to make?

    Participant response. I think most directors would like to get out of it. Prefer to minimize their staff and commitment.

    Participant response. A person involved in LOCKSS indicates that in the pilot phase it is pretty easy. We need various kinds of projects to assess what the work load will be. Some libraries if they own these files can repackage them to enhance service/access.

    Participant question. Is LOCKSS pulling down content in a fixed format? Can you manipulate it, forward it, etc. GPO seems unwilling to distribute source files.

    Participant response. GPO’s motivation for not distributing source files includes generating revenue. At UNT in the Cyber Cemetery it is absolutely important that formats be changed to facilitate future migration into future formats. Cemetery has lots of Word Perfect and Lotus files from older agencies. Absolutely necessary that we need to think about changing information for file migration – but can manipulation change the content/context. It is a major commitment, fully understand why libraries are hesitant.

    Participant comment. My director wants free publications that can support university programs. Director is pressuring her as to how they can use these items more. Keep GPO as a free bookstore. Use GPO to support our programs. Supports our book budget – enhances our acquisitions. GPO had to take over N&O because no one in the FDLP was willing to.

    Participant comments. First is that there is the real question here of human resource versus content integrity, when you talk about pushing things and changing format you need someone in Tech Services to do cataloging, that’s labor intensive. 65% increase in digital docs since 1996. How many libraries can afford to have more than one tech services person make this conversion possible to the end user.

    Moderator’s final observation. His opinion on ingestion versus access? A number of big institutions are places where all things seem possible. UNT is inspirational because they are a smaller place that thinks they can.

    Participants notes

    • Addressing issues within digital government era
    o Need to ensure that GPO gets access/files/publications that are being produced
    o Centralized registry of depository profiles of digital documents
    o Ways to ensure that there is coverage by agency, by subject or other – perhaps taken on by a consortia
    o Set up profiles electronically to automatically accept, or not, pushed files
    o Retention – requirements for those who accept pushed documents – needs to be addressed.

    we get digital files, how do our patrons determine authenticity and “Officialness?”
    • PKI authenticity software
    • US Code – not Official (not all enacted into “positive law”)
    • Eventually all on GPO Access will be authenticated via PKI software
    • Theoretically GPO info should be easier to maintain as authentic than law reviews & other publications
    • What happens when GPO asks for authentic document to be withdrawn??
    o Would you make a copy?
    o Would you copy for a patron?

    Reactions to statement “The Web has become the preferred media through which the public seeks information.”
    o This only applies to those who have web access. My husband and I do not have Internet at home, so he doesn’t use the web
    o I don’t know many people who would read a 500 page document online
    o One member of our group said that her institution charges for photocopies, but not printouts. Her patrons prefer online because then can get copies (printouts) for free.

    Reactions to “Are FDLs needed in non-exclusive environment?”
    o A group member mentioned training, advocacy, and community of librarians.
    o Someone mentioned purchasing Marcive records. This does not eliminate the need for staff time. I spend many hours cleaning up purchased records.

    By Blogger BarbieUVA, at October 28, 2005 8:28 AM  

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