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

2. Managing Collections & Delivering Content

Managing gets at everything related to the libraries’ role in the information lifecycle, from selection to preservation. The focus here is on how collection management needs to be rethought in light of a.) the fact of remote collections, b.) the continued (as yet undefined) need for local collections, and c.) the fact that we will manage information in various formats.

  • What will libraries continue to select/collect?
  • Will this vary library to library?
  • How does this differ from / mix with the Government Printing Office's FDSys collection?
  • What will libraries acquire and hold?
  • How does this differ from GPO's National Collection(s) of U.S. Government Publications?
  • What new institutional roles will libraries adopt with respect to preservation (light and dark archives, LOCKSS, etc.).
  • How do these roles differ from and complement GPO's digital preservation initiatives?
  • Do we maintain a few centralized archives or collaborative networks of distributed collections?
  • What kinds of collection-based partnerships with GPO will they form?
  • How will existing library organizations accommodate/fund these new roles?
  • Assuming at least some geographic consolidation of tangible collections, how do we meet citizen demand in a timely manner?
  • What is the relationship between new collection models and existing institutional delivery mechanisms, such as consortia delivery services?
  • When the most appropriate medium for a user is print, how do we accommodate that need in a timely manner? Should Print on Demand (POD) be focused on libraries in economically depressed areas?
  • What is the relationship of these new roles to Title 44?


  • Continued Selection

    In terms of paper, I would continue to select and/or collect:

    1. Statistical compendium which require browsing (e.g. Minerals Yearbook)

    2. Technical Documentation that must be used simultaneously with a computer or another print document (e.g. Census SF3 TD, Instructions for IRS 1040)

    3. Material where the human indexing provides better access than keyword (bound Congressional Record, US Code, CFR)

    4. Special commission reports

    5. Lengthy material which people will sit down and read cover-to-cover and also have potential historical value

    6. Maps

    Category #5 is the toughest because that almost has to be decided on a piece-by-piece basis.

    By Blogger Gracie, at August 04, 2005 10:01 AM  

  • Public Libraries

    Public libraries really need to provide input into this section. How do we encourage them to express their opinions? Do they talk to their regionals? Can the regionals share information anonymously? Depository Adviser Sally Lawler may have some input from her recent survey.

    One way we might generate interest in the future is with a Non-Depository of the Year Award given either by GPO or GODORT.

    By Blogger Gracie, at August 04, 2005 10:07 AM  

  • Our library, a small to medium public library, does not and will not collect as many federal govdocs in paper. However we will certainly continue to collect select publications of general interest to the public. Some of these we have ordered for years, such as the Stat. Abstract of the US. Others are much briefer and newer to our stacks.
    Also, we have an extensive collection of web bookmarks for fed gov agencies and their online documents.

    By Blogger dodge, at August 04, 2005 5:11 PM  

  • An example of a govdoc monograph that a small public library such as ours has bought in paper is the recent 9/11 Commission Report.

    By Blogger dodge, at August 04, 2005 5:13 PM  

  • First, a general comment on managing collections and delivering content. In order for us to have collections to manage and to effectively deliver content, we must have a pledge from the federal government not to cripple electronic information either outright through Digital Rights Management (DRM) software or by putting it into a difficult to use (but viewable), and harder to archive form such as is done by the National Academy Press.

    DRM is all about the publisher having sole control over how or whether a document will be used. Up until the digital age, citizens have had full control over their use of publicly issued government publications. The government should confirm this citizen centered model by renouncing DRM just as the government has renounced copyright for government produced work.

    What will libraries acquire and hold?

    By and large, libraries will acquire and hold materials of interest to their users. This will only increase as more nondepository libraries acquire more government publications.

    How does this differ from GPO's National Collection(s) of U.S. Government Publications?

    The National Collection is charged with acquiring all the nonclassified material the government publishes in all formats. Most libraries will not or cannot do this, though I hope some Regionals will.

    Do we maintain a few centralized archives or collaborative networks of distributed collections?

    Centralized archives, particularly of electronic materials guarantees a new digital dark age. Lots of copies keep stuff safe and the future of government information should be in a distributed system, extending to cyberspace a model that has keep permanent, no-fee access to government information for the American people for the past century and a half.

    Assuming at least some geographic consolidation of tangible collections, how do we meet citizen demand in a timely manner?

    Through InterLibrary Loan, digitization on demand, and print on demand.

    When the most appropriate medium for a user is print, how do we accommodate that need in a timely manner? Should Print on Demand (POD) be focused on libraries in economically depressed areas?

    When the most appropriate medium for a user is print, it should be distributed that way to begin with. We (GPO and the government information community) should be surveying our communities to see which ones need or are far more comfortable with print and focus POD on demand. I could see some poor communities using electronic formats well and some wealthy (retiree?) communities preferring print. I feel that neither GPO nor depository libraries know enough about their users and where they are to know what's best for current community access to government information.

    By Blogger Daniel, at August 07, 2005 3:25 PM  

  • I think most public libraries would also agree with gracie's comments on selection of printed materials.

    By Blogger gary, at August 08, 2005 11:51 AM  

  • There are two "collections" here - the tangible materials in our libraries, and the virtual publications out in the ether. We can articulate our role for the former - the latter is still NOT under control. That is where there are roles yet to be defined for libraries, other institutions, individual agencies, NARA, and GPO. But I think it is where the concept of a FDL system breaks down, and we need to think about a federal information access and delivery system. I won't address that here, but hope to talk about it in DC in October.

    Obvious answers - libraries will continue to acquire, in paper, the publications their users need in that format. Of course it will differ from library to library.

    Terminology is confused here, please clarify in the next draft. The "GPO's FDSys collection" is mentioned, then the "GPO's National Collection." My understanding is that the Future Digital System (FDsys) is the technology underpinnings as it says on the web page it "will be a world-class information life-cycle management system..." It is NOT a collection. GPO Access is a collection, the National Collection will be a collection. But FDSys is a system.

    Libraries, especially regionals and some other large depositories, have been maintaining their collections for many years, and intend to keep on doing that. While gradually some might withdraw, and new sharing arrangements can be developed, I don't see a big need for a "top down" mandate to reduce the number of legacy collections. Things that would facilitate better sharing of resources can include cooperative plans for storage and preservation, provision for scanning on demand from legacy collections, etc. And of course catalog records for pre-1976 documents. Just create them from the Monthly Catalog - a collection is not necessary to do that!!! In terms of managing our legacy collections, cataloging is the key.

    It is probably not a good idea for libraries to put plans on hold for their legacy collections on the theory that GPO is going to solve the problem with dark archives and complete scanning. Libraries can build partnerships with each other now. While support from GPO will be helpful, it is not necessary. New institutional roles, in the context of this vision document, can remain fuzzy. And I don't understand the issue of library organizations funding new roles. What is meant by that question?

    There is no reason to develop new delivery mechanisms just for documents - many libraries are using very creative ways to deliver materials and copies. The problem for requesting users and libraries is to find out where things are (since most legacy collections are not represented in OCLC.) Cataloging is the key (didn't I say that already?)

    By Anonymous Julie, at August 18, 2005 5:54 PM  

  • As a librarian at a small public library, I generally agree with Gracie’s list of things I hope to continue collecting in print. There is one area that seems to be looked down upon by many people, especially academic libraries, and that is pamphlets and brochures. Our vertical file of informative tidbits from various agencies (especially relating to physical and mental health, Social Security, and nursing homes) are frequently used by our patrons. I’ve gone so far as to identify as many agencies as I can who will send me their pamphlets for free which were once part of the depository program but are no longer. I can act like any non-depository librarian and obtain copies of brochures. The difference is, as a depository librarian, I know who to contact.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 18, 2005 8:03 PM  

  • I my informal site visits to public libraries in Michigan, I have found that they have an especially close relationship with their regional librarian, due to ongoing training sessions, one-on-one orientations for new librarians, and tremendous follow through after inspections and self studies, especially for those that were at one time on probation. Ann Sanders is still inventing interventions that work in these challenging times.

    As far as the unofficial survey goes that I sent out last spring, few public libraries responded, judging from the large percent of respondents who said their collection development is driven by "curriculum". Now that I have visited five public libraries, all in depressed areas of the state, I have found the gamet of strategies, from selecting all e-documents and focusing on public service so that patrons are empowered to use them to selecting none, because the resources are not there to support them and because the OPAC demands barcodes for every record which then is misleading to patrons. In the later case, as I understand it, the librarian wishes to focus on the preservation of the historic collection as a local community asset, without having to worry that the library will lose it if it chooses to de-select electronic documents in order to maintain the integrity of the online catalog.

    There seems to be a divide at all types of libraries, based on whether the documents librarian is a cataloger or a public services librarian. The cleanup of MARCIVE loads is overwhelming some documents departments' resources. Some libraries have rightly asked why should we pay for records in our catalog and threaten the integrity of our OPAC if GPO is going to have Franklin? Why don't we just link from our catalog to Franklin, and not load records locally? For those libraries that have a five-year collection, this makes a lot of sense to me and reduces time-consuming cleanup. Local spreadsheets can handle bibliographic control and discard lists without involving cataloging authority. Many others find that the reduction in tangibles means they can simply copy catalog from OCLC with great results. Some have data that show ILL and circulation statistics for documents have tripled since MARCIVE loads, and that the upkeep is worth it. Those libraries tend to be the larger academic collections, planning to keep most of their documents and having a strong mission to serve their congressional district through shared catalogs, but I think that there are a lot of models out there, and that the more collaborative approach of the Library Consultant is timed well in Michigan, on the heels of a very strong regional program and at a time when GPO is looking for best practices of all kinds. Hopefully this less stringent climate will lead more public libraries to share their needs and wants on this blog.

    By Blogger Sally, at September 07, 2005 3:25 PM  

  • You can find a hyperlinked version of this comment at Free Government Information. The views expressed are my own and do not speak for the whole FGI group of volunteers.

    Of all the sections in the DLC discussion paper, Managing Collections and Delivering Content is the most disappointing. This was the place for a ringing endorsement of local, geographically disbursed, deposit of fully functional electronic files free of Digital Rights Management (DRM) that local depositories could make available on the Internet. I hope and pray that such a vision of the future can embrace such a simple, yet essential element. If not by the Depository Library Council, then by ALA GODORT or some other documents-oriented organization.

    But that isn't what we got. In keeping with my promise to highlight positive aspects before bringing up the negative aspects of the DLC Discussion paper, let me give you some good news.

    On page 8, the discussion paper states that GPO's plan for long-term access to materials regardless of format rests on the National Bibliography and the National Collection. Both of these efforts are commendable and hopefully the long-delayed National Collection will be established in physical and electronic shelving soon. Succeeding pages talk about the Future Digital System (FDSys), which I support as long as it is not the sole source of fully functional electronic government information.

    I credit the DLC authors of the discussion paper for acknowledging a legitimate case for Federal Depository Libraries (FDLs) to build local digital collections. On page 9 they cite six points made by Richard Luce of the Los Alamos Nuclear Lab research library in support of building local (though web accessible) digital collections. The discussion paper also mentions the GPO LOCKSS pilot, though without endorsement.

    Another positive aspect of the discussion paper is its endorsement of some number of "light archives" for tangible formats. The authors also cite ongoing (and needed) efforts to provide more granular selection criteria for depositories. This will reduce waste and I commend the DLC for including this in their vision.

    Finally, I commend the authors for calling DRM enabled files what they are - crippled (p. 13). They explicitly reject disabling features such as downloading, searching and extraction (i.e. copying and pasting).

    Before I criticizes specifics of the Discussion paper's "managing collections" section, here are two points that I want you to keep in mind in future visioning discussions:

    A "depository library" that receives no materials or has no collection in its custody is *not* a depository library. It can be a government information service center, and I believe there is a place for those, but it is not a depository library.

    Let's stop this talk of "It's visiting the FDL" OR "It's going on the web." If there was a system of deposit of fully functional electronic files served to the Internet through local depository libraries, we could have a "information anywhere" future where privacy and access to existing data could be assured indefinitely.

    One possible major flaw of the "managing collections" section is that the otherwise positive condemnation of DRM software comes with this odd statement (emphasis mine):

    The GPO should work with agencies to ensure that the standard for web-publishing is fully-enable digital files that can be distributed to depositories and incorporated and fully exploited within their local digital environments.

    If the phrase "local digital environment" means "In-library use only" or "Accessible remotely only to library-authenticated users", then DLC is in fact advocating crippled files. By their own admission, DLC believes that few people visit FDLs anymore. So what use will our "fully-functional" electronic files be if we cannot offer them freely and remotely? At least with proprietary vendors we can negotiate statewide home-access contracts! If "local digital environment" means something more innocent, I hope a DLC member will step forward and let us know what it does mean.

    There are two definite major flaws to this section. The first is the language used to talk about proponents of local deposit versus those who are willing to accept a centralized electronic documents solution. While the DLC authors did not directly quote any librarians endorsing a centralized approach, they say that "many depository librarians" believe "that their libraries should focus on serving as information centers for Federal Government Information" and that "development of costly digital information architectures for managing digital content will not be supported or required by their institutions." (p. 10-11). On the other hand, while the DLC authors quote two individuals on the value of local deposit of electronic government information, proponents of such an approach are refered to as "some" (p. 9) and "these voices" (p. 10). This approach makes supporters of centralization seem more numerous than supporters of a geographically distributed approach.

    So far, the only measure of library willingness to accept local deposit of electronic files is our *unscientific poll* at Free Government Information, which currently indicates 90% support for local deposit of electronic files. So I think it is premature to speak of "many depository librarians" wanting nothing more than to be information service centers.

    One thing I should make clear is that I wholeheartedly accept the concept of the FDSys. I see it as a last resort repository providing metadata and fully functional electronic content to depository libraries. People on the web might find a depository copy of a file, an agency copy, or even a FDSys copy. They won't have to care, but the redundancy will assure that information remains available no matter what sort of disaster strikes our country or if Congress moves the Government Printing Office to a cost-recovery model like it has for the National Technical Information Service.

    The second major flaw of this section is treating depository acceptance of digital files as optional, as stated on page 11:

    "The choices that existing and potential FDLs make in the area of digital collecting will inevitably reflect local needs and interests. There is no "one size fits all" solution. A viable and dynamic vision of a digital-era FDLP must support and sustain the full range of needs reflected in the continuum above, ranging from those libraries that wish to locally load content and metadata to those that wish to rely exclusively upon a more centrally managed model of preservation and access to Federal Web-based content. "

    While I agree with many librarians, including Charley Seavey, that all libraries can become "government information service centers", if desire and need are present, I do not accept that you can have a depository program without depositories, or with "depositories" that have no custody of materials. Depositories require deposits. Non-depository libraries can certainly access a lot of government information and build expertise in that, but we really don't need a government program for that. Also, without tangible benefits, what benefit would acrue to a library keeping government information specialists on staff? Especially if FDLs are successful in getting to where our users are - whether on the web, by phone, or in the offices of their local government?

    I suppose that GPO could offer non-depository libraries incentives to be "government information service centers", like in-library fee-database access or specialized training, but then it should explicitly establish a new category of library service centers. I'd be willing to accept a smaller number of Federal Depository Libraries if there was true deposit of some materials in all depository libraries.

    One final, but minor problem with this section is that discussion of "light archives" appear to center on a number between two and ten as in this quote on page 11:

    "A small number (fewer than 10) of geographically-dispersed “light archives” supplied by GPO with the full range of paper products offered by the GPO might appropriately provide the ongoing need for paper products in an environment where digital versions exist for the entire publishing output of federal agencies."

    As far as I can tell, this choice of "fewer than 10" is never justified in the discussion paper. How do we know this is an optimal number for preserving materials? Where did this number come from? I think I first heard it from SuDoc Judy Russell, but at the time it seemed like the number was randomly chosen. I think the final vision paper should ask for research on an optimal number of light archives. Additionally, if GPO presses on with it's picture of a depository system without deposits, the least it can do is establish a like number of digital "light archives." If redundant copies are important for print, they are even more important for the far more fragile digital materials.

    By Blogger Daniel, at September 09, 2005 12:35 PM  

  • Daniel
    Good thoughts. We definitely don't make claims for this first
    attempt at a "vision" paper being perfect.

    On one point you make below:

    Finally, some agencies are producing "crippled" electronic content using
    Digital Rights Management (DRM) software. Files are viewable but
    such as downloading, searching and extraction are often disabled.
    The GPO should work with agencies to ensure that the standard for
    web-publishing is fully-enable digital files that can be distributed to
    depositories and incorporated and fully exploited within their local
    If the phrase "local digital environment" means "In-library use only" or
    "Accessible remotely only to library-authenticated users", then DLC is
    fact advocating crippled files. By their own admission, DLC believes
    few people visit FDLs anymore. So what use will our "fully-functional"
    electronic files be if we cannot offer them freely and remotely? At
    with proprietary vendors we can negotiate statewide home-access
    If "local digital environment" means something more innocent, I hope a
    member will step forward and let us know what it does mean.

    DLC didn't intend for "local digital environments" to imply any sort
    of restrictions or authentications required. I think we more meant
    to imply that libraries do and will have different ways of presenting
    and incorporating digital information into the mix of information they
    Also, (though we left a "d" off "fully-enabled" (AGH!!)) we
    certainly meant for "fully-enable digital files" and "fully
    exploited" to mean that agencies should provide files that AREN'T
    crippled in any way - that are fully enabled and fully exploitable.

    Language is such a bear, isn't it?

    Barbie Selby

    By Blogger BarbieUVA, at September 12, 2005 12:42 PM  

  • From a public library perspective,
    I share Julie's call for cooperative collections and cataloging-partnerships!. Begin with the Regional design. Of course states like Ohio have many more participants than say Montana (Bernadine H's very cogent example). Yet we have a model in place NOW. Can this model work for electronic files/data also?
    The simler the solution may be the less expensive which is always on the mind of public library directors.

    By Blogger George, at September 15, 2005 3:44 PM  

  • Depository Library Council
    Fall 2005 Meeting
    Written Notes and Comments submitted by participants

    Collections & Delivering Content
    • How do we determine “officialness” of document not on GPO server?
    o The System
     Our answer depends on the system GPO adopts – we’ll use their system
     Someone mentioned an electronic “watermark” background
    o Granularity
     If one breaks a document into smaller chunks, the authentication link is broken.
     The courts want more granular information
     What is the right granularity?

    • Light Archives - Concept of “light archives”
    o Do we need between 2 and 10 light archives?
     What staff support? Critical
     What in the scope of light archives?
     Will National Bibliography have holdings?
    o How does the light archive pat for it?
     Access – how is access set up?
    o Who will coordinate the Standards?
    o What about electronic stuff?
    o Extra light archive
    o Concern about Regionals being undervalued
    o Agencies should be archives for their own materials?
    o Would 10 be enough?

    • POD - What are the ramifications of a more granular, just in time, print on demand distribution process be?
    o What would be in it for your library?
    o What happens to consistency?
    o Will require GPO to move out bib. Records.
    o Tangible collections will more and more be historical collections
    o Increased “people” time both at GPO and at the local library
    o Current slection lists offer some security from administrative pressures.
    o Delays in receipt of items
    o Granular method would work very well for agency libraries
    o Can GPO manage POD?
    o Will there be different streams for general public & libraries?
    o Will this be available through National Bibliography?
    o How would local libraries use POD – to build collections or multiple copies for popular titles?
    o Public library best current model
    o POD – who pays?
    o GPO move to more of a fee based program?

    • There seems to be a continuum of perspectives within the community about local collections. How can the program accommodate this?

    o What does collection mean any more?
    o Refinement of Essential Titles list best way to start
    o How different is this from current selection system?
    o What is really important is expertise related to this.
    o Want local control – library server vs. university server
    o Support – financial, faculty

    • Imagine you are not a depository librarian. What are your wildest ideas for information access and selection?

    o When I have a question I want the information to pour directly into by brain
    o Online guides and help
    o Easy to use Web sites
    o We need tools and services available that fully integrate govt info into other resources.
    o A Google search that would give good results.
    o Integrate not only collections but also training
    o GPO should populate all the metalib search aggregators.
    o Could a consortium take on a light archive function?
    o Document needs to address the politization of agency web sites
    o Libraries, etc, interested in light archives need guidelines on how to establish a light archive.
    o We need to start moving forward now!
    o Want the government to do it!
    o Greg Lawrence proposed that FDL participate in the selection and delivery of what belongs in the collection.

    • What was not there that was expected or wanted?

    o A clear statement from GPO on clear, public, permanent, free access.
    o How will the new system populate the online catalog with my depository selections?
    o Integration with other services. Metasearch, etc.
    o Digitization of legacy collections based on unrealistic expectations.
    o Who are I going to manage all of this?

    Comment cards
    • Can there be continued discussion of the concept of “pushing” documents? I think this may be relevant in some cases or for key materials, but I think it would be more efficient to point from OPAC records to these files at GPO via PURLs or to the agencies themselves. Most libraries will not have the resources to handle many data files, . pdfs, etc.

    • How, really, in all honesty, are digital documents going to be preserved forever? How long does a computer last? What is their lifespan? This entire venture, to me, is the biggest, baddest leap of faith -- this unspoken and expected idea that digital publications & the like will still be there for years to come.

    • Suggested tool: Pass a lwa in Congress to get GPO& agencies to work together to digitize their legacy collections.

    • GPO needs to attend to archiving born digital information . They do not actually have a responsibility for retro-digitization. For that, GPO should 1) suggest standards & processes, and 2) maintain a registry, perhaps in cooperation with OCLC or somebody…

    By Blogger BarbieUVA, at October 28, 2005 8:39 AM  

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