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In light of the Government Printing Office's reported proposal to stop tangible distribution of all but 50 government titles, readers may be interested in this thoughtful background and proposal by three UC San Diego documents librarians:
Government Information in the Digital Age: The Once and Future Federal Depository Library Program by James A. Jacobs, James R. Jacobs, and Shinjoung Yeo
[Article to appear in Journal of Academic Librarianship, May 2005, http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jacalib]
Rapid technological change has caused some to question the need for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). We argue that the traditional roles of FDLP libraries in selecting, acquiring, organizing, preserving, and providing access to and services for government information are more important than ever in the digital age.
Anonymous Patron writes "This Year a New UK Law allowed FOI requests. Month #1 (January) saw about 4,000 requests. Now We Learn Only seven out of 439 local authorities in the UK are fully ready and receptive to requests for information under the new Freedom of Information (FOI) regime, according to a survey by information management company IDOX plc, released yesterday."
Anonymous Patron writes "One From Fort Worth Weekly Online says Librarians are once again fighting to keep public records public.
â€œThis administration is trying to keep information from the U.S. citizens,â€™â€™ said Monika Antonelli, a UNT librarian who monitors attempts to restrict government information. â€œWhen I worked in government documents at UNT, the cost of the program was [about] 20 cents per taxpayer, and it was money well spent. The Depository Library program received less funding than the budget for military bands. This is not about saving money but about stifling information.â€™â€™
The latest skirmish erupted last month when Russell, at a meeting of the American Library Association in Boston, announced the federal governmentâ€™s 2006 budget would include money for only â€œ50 essential titlesâ€™â€™ for the nationâ€™s 1,250 depository libraries. Hundreds of other documents that the government for years had deposited in the nationâ€™s libraries would no longer be available except online."
Rob Lopresti writes "The Everett (Wa) Herald reports that five government agents, including representatives of the CIA, Energy and Defense Depts, removed papers from the archival collection of Senator Henry (Scoop) Jackson at the University of Washington. Fewer than ten documents were removed.
"Rickerson said the papers, now considered classified, are being held in a secure location on campus until federal authorities declassify them."
The papers were donated by Jackson's widow following his death twenty years ago."
Anonymous Patron writes "A neat little piece at MercuryNews.com on a special humor tour of the National Archives in Washington. Some stuff the author saw is actually on public display, and some is hidden away in the ``stacks,'' which is an enormous warren of old files that has a distinctive smell and feel."
Anonymous Patron writes "Being beloved will only get you so far I guess. The Baltimore Sun Reports The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is likely losing both its library and its beloved librarian.
Cecelia Petro, who opened the library in 1998 after some scientists decided that a research-based institution needed one, is among eight people agencywide who are being laid off under the governor's budget."
Anonymous Patron writes "White House Letter: Why is Bush reading Tom Wolfe? Don't ask: If you ask the White House what President George W. Bush is reading these days, the press office will call back with the official list: "His Excellency: George Washington," by Joseph J. Ellis, "Alexander Hamilton" by Ron Chernow and, not least, the Bible.
What the official list omits is Tom Wolfe's racy new beer- and sex-soaked novel, "I Am Charlotte Simmons." The president, a Wolfe fan, has not only read the book but is enthusiastically recommending it to friends."
Anonymous Patron writes "The History News Service (There's a History News Service?) reports on Inauguration Day, the classified papers of former President George H.W. Bush became eligible for release -- as the law specifies, 12 years after he left office. They touch on the Weinstein nomination as part of a larger battle over White House secrecy. The author says Weinstein personifies many of the problems of secrecy in Washington today. His record on access to documents is bad."
One librarian's take on the role of (and need for) librarians in e-government projects:
There are many librarians involved in e-government projects. I chair a group of information professionals working in local government and many of its members will have been involved in e-government in one way or another. Librarians should be at the forefront as the provision of information is a key element; and that is what we do best.
I do not know if Ranganathan's Five Laws of Library Science are still taught but it would be interesting to apply these to e-government. The five laws are:
If we begin to apply these laws to the provision of information to the public and the interactions being offered by e-government they still make a lot of sense.
The new policy requires a more detailed review of why an agency wanted to withdraw, withhold or restrict access to a document, and whether alternative options could be used. The option would depend on what the agency wanted to do. For example, if they wanted to withdraw a publication, the option might be to edit it so it can be printed anyway. If they wanted to hold a publication, the option might be to put a timeline on how long it's held.