2021: A Depository Odyssey (Lori Smith, Southeastern Louisiana University)
A bibliographic record has been created for each publication that includes a link to the copy available on the agency web site and/or to the archived copy maintained by the IDPA. For manuscript materials, text versions have also been archived. The publications can be located and accessed by searching just the bibliographic records, or for those with more time and/or more complicated research needs, the full text of the publications can be searched.
Print copies of each publication are maintained in a public access archive in Washington, DC, and in a dark archive outside the DC area.
To encourage public access to information beyond Washington, the Information Dissemination and Preservation Network (IDPN) has been established. In a partnership between the federal government and each state government, one IDPN Partner Library has been designated in each state to serve as a mirror site for Franklin. Contents of the database are saved on the state sites twice each day. If a member of the public tries to access a document in Franklin while the database is down, the link is automatically redirected to the nearest state mirror site.
Geographically distributed throughout each state are a number of Federal Information Assistance Centers (FIACs) that are IDPN Associates. Members of the public who need assistance in finding federal information are referred to FIACs. These centers, which are most often located inside libraries, provide free access to Franklin and other online resources. Many FIACs also maintain collections of print and electronic materials relevant to local needs. In addition to assisting walk-in patrons, FIACs answer questions via phone, e-mail, online chat, etc. The centers also offer patrons the opportunity to download a free copy of any document to their own portable information devices.
The IDPA and the IDPN Partner Libraries take an active role in training the professionals who staff the FIACs. A number of methods are used to ensure that they are up-to-date on the latest information technology, changes in federal information policy, and the availability of new information resources. Those who are willing to complete a formal course of training have the option of becoming Certified Federal Information Specialists. The IDPA also uses several methods to obtain input from the IDPN Partners and the FIAC staff members on a number of policy and usability issues.
The IDPN is similar in many ways to the former FDLP, but those who remember the former program agree that the IDPN has developed into a much more effective partnership.