Posted on April 10, 2013.
Every year, the Catholic University School of Library and Information Science in Washington, DC hosts the Elizabeth R. Stone lecture in memory of the former dean. DGI member Kathy Kelly kindly reported on the 2013 program for us. Thanks, Kathy!
UPDATE: Slides have been posted.
Submitted by Kathy Kelly:
Blane Dessy, Executive Director of the Federal Library and Information Network (FEDLINK) at the Library of Congress, focused attention on the impressive scope of the Federal government’s information ecosystem at the Catholic University School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) 23rd annual Elizabeth W. Stone Lecture on April 5th. The lecture, “The Federal Government’s Information Sphere & The Myth of Federal Information Policy,” was an invitation for attendees to explore the research potential of the hypothesis that the world’s largest consumer/creator/manager/disseminator of information has no single information policy nor will there ever be one, since Federal policies have something other than information as their intention (e.g. national security).
But Blane also explored alternatives to a single information policy in the information realm such as law and directives, while lecture attendees pitched in with proposals about best practices in federal information management.
Blane proposed that Library and Information Science schools are an appropriate place for the type of research needed on public sector information – such as how much information originally created by the Federal government is bought from the private sector. He also explored the formats, dissemination methods, synthesis/analysis services, and types of acquisition or original creation of Federal information which takes places via external sources and inter-agency processes.
Blane noted the range includes all branches of Government, all formats and security levels, all time periods of its existence, and everything acquired, created, synthesized, and all information and data disseminated internally and externally.
Attendees gave many specific examples of Government creation, purchasing, management, and dissemination of information, and ideas for how to better track it.
Posted in Federal government, Information issues, Information policy
Posted on February 23, 2013.
In response to a petition filed on the White House We the People site, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Friday released a policy memorandum (PDF) supporting free public access to the results of federally-funded research. The policy mandates that, within six months, “each Federal agency with over $100 million in annual conduct of research and development expenditures…develop a [draft] plan to support increased public access to the results of research funded by the Federal Government.” Of particular interest to librarians and other information professionals, required features of the draft agency plans include “a strategy for improving the public’s ability to locate and access digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research” and “an approach for optimizing search, archival, and dissemination features that encourages innovation in accessibility and interoperability, while ensuring long-term stewardship of the results of federally funded research.”
Meanwhile, legislation recently introduced in Congress (H.R. 708) calls on federal agencies “to develop public access policies relating to research conducted by employees of that agency or from funds administered by that agency.” The bill is commonly called the FASTR bill, short for “Fair Access to Science and Technology Research.”
Open access expert Peter Suber succinctly describes the key differences between the White House policy and the legislation–and explains why he welcomes both–in his Google+ post Second shoe drops: new White House Directive mandates OA.
While the bill may or may not pass, the directive is already in force. How will this affect your work? Let us know in the comments.
Posted in Data and statistics, Federal government, Information issues, Information policy, Legislatures, Science information
Posted on August 19, 2012.
Canadian federal government libraries have been facing serious cutbacks in 2012, and some federal government agency libraries have been closed. For background, see our May 2012 post, Major cuts for Canada’s federal libraries.
A 10 August 2012 article from Canada’s iPolitics, Closing doors on Canada’s history, provides an update and arguments in defense of the libraries:
To date, the Immigration and Refugee Board, Transport Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada, Public Service Commission, National capital Commission and Canadian International Development Agency libraries have been closed. Other libraries, such as those at Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada are scheduled for imminent closure. In still others, staffs are being drastically cut. …
The government has also been slowly and stealthily wrecking Library and Archives Canada (LAC), the flagship of Canada’s heritage keepers. At LAC, over thirty archivists’ and librarians’ positions are being axed, which in turn is leading to a reduction in programs, one involving the acquisition of new archival holdings. …
Since interlibrary loans will be completely eliminated by February 2013, readers wishing to consult books found only on LAC shelves will have to consult them on site at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. And those who can go to Library and Archives Canada will find that hours and services have been drastically cut.
Comments and additional information from Canadian members of DGI are welcomed.
Posted in Canada, Federal government, Information issues, Information policy, International, Libraries, Library management
Posted on May 12, 2012.
The Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and other federal libraries and information services are facing severe cuts. Details from the Canadian Library Association (CLA) press release, 2 May 2012:
At Library and Archives Canada, 430 people have been given notices, with more than 200 jobs to be cut over the next three years, representing a reduction of 20% of their workforce. They have also had to cut their acquisitions budget, end their role in national inter-library loan activities, and cut the National Archival Development Program, which has provided funding to Canadian archival organizations to increase their capacity to preserve archival materials and make them available to Canadians. These cuts will negatively impact Library and Archives Canada’s ability to provide front-line services, resulting in reduced access to information for Canadians. …
CLA has also received reports that many libraries in federal government departments will be losing staff; some will be shuttering their libraries altogether. Not only does this result in less support for departmental staff and researchers to access relevant information; but as many of these libraries also provide direct services to the public, Canadians will be prevented from having access to that information. Affected departments identified so far include Agriculture Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Industry Canada, the National Capital Commission, National Defence, Public Works and Government Services, the Public Service Commission, and Transport Canada. Earlier this year, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada had already announced their intention to close that department’s library.
Canadian archivists plan to protest the cuts with an “On to Ottawa Trek” on 28 May 2012. For details, see: http://archiviststrek2012.tumblr.com/
Check the CLA Government Library and Information Management Professionals Network blog for more information and news updates.
Canadian government librarians, please feel free to comment on this post with additional information.
Posted in Archives, Canada, Federal government, Information issues, Information policy, International, Legislatures, Libraries, Library management
Posted on March 16, 2012.
[Today's blog post was written and submitted by our DGI student contest winner, Lisa Foster. Thank you, Lisa, and congratulations!]
As a citizen and a library student, I believe wholeheartedly in the right of citizens to access government information. As a local government lawyer, I am often confronted with balancing the right of citizens to access information, and the right of government agencies to withhold information for legitimate reasons. Finding the right balance of disclosure and nondisclosure is sometimes a difficult judgment call, but in most cases, the best practice for government agencies is to err on the side of disclosure. The federal Freedom of Information Act, and the state statutes that are modeled after the FOIA, all provide guidance about how to strike this balance. The FOIA provides:
“Except as otherwise required by statute, matters of official record shall be made available, in accordance with published rule, to persons properly and directly concerned, except information held confidential for good cause found.”
5 U.S.C. §552(d).
This raises the issue of when there is “good cause” to withhold records. While advocates for access to information may believe that there is rarely a justification to fully or partially withhold records, I have seen many instances where doing so serves an important interest. For instance, library circulation records are exempt from disclosure in California. This is an important exception that allows citizens the intellectual freedom to access library materials without fear of having their circulation records reviewed by others, such as law enforcement agencies. Likewise, when citizens send correspondence to government agencies, they should not have to worry about their personal contact information, such as their email address or home phone number, being disclosed to the media. The best way to balance the interest in transparency and the interest in personal privacy in this situation is to provide copies of the requested correspondence to the requesting party with the citizen’s contact information redacted.
Being an aspiring librarian and a practicing government lawyer gives me a unique perspective on the subject of government document disclosure, and hopefully, an ability to see both sides when confronted with a disclosure issue. I believe that this balanced perspective is something that will serve me in my future career as an information professional.
Lisa A. Foster
Posted in DGI news, Information issues, Information policy, Librarians, SLA/DGI news
Posted on March 13, 2012.
This week, 11-17 March 2012, is Sunshine Week in the U.S. The event traces its roots to the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors which launched “Sunshine Sunday” in 2002. A little more history from the Sunshine Week website:
With an inaugural grant from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which has continued to support the effort, Sunshine Week was launched by the American Society of News Editors in March 2005. This non-partisan, non-profit initiative is celebrated in mid-March each year to coincide with James Madison’s birthday on March 16. In 2011, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press joined ASNE as a national co-coordinator of Sunshine Week.
The website has an events calendar page listing the week’s activities.
SLA is co-sponsoring a free webcast on Friday. From the SLA Public Policy Connections post:
On Friday, March 16 from 1:15pm to 3:30pm EDT, OpenTheGovernment.org, with support from several organizations including SLA, will present two panels featuring experts from both inside and outside government:
- Whistleblowers & the Press: Roles and Risks in Divulging Information Needed for Accountable Government Secret Government
- Secret Laws: Do claims of national security trump open and accountable government?
OpenTheGovernment.org provides the details on the event and webcast.
And what about you? Any Sunshine Week event or resource info to share? Let us know in the comments.
The SLA San Francisco Bay Region chapter is organizing its own Sunshine Week event, as is its custom, though not coincident with official Sunshine Week. A talk on 3 April will focus on the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. For more information, see the SF Bay chapter event page.
Posted in Information issues, Information policy, SLA/DGI news
Posted on February 20, 2012.
Did you know that SLA’s San Francisco chapter offers weekly updates on topics such as FOIA, copyright, and open access in their blog feature Intersect Alert?
Intersect Alert takes a broad sweep of the news at the U.S. national, U.S. state, and international levels. Take a look at the most recent issue (19 February) to get an idea of news items they summarize and link to.
Many thanks to the San Francisco Bay Region chapter for this outstanding resource!
Posted in Information issues, Information policy, International, SLA news, SLA/DGI news
Posted on December 15, 2011.
Notice from U.S. Government Printing Office, 14 December 2011:
The U.S. Government Printing Office is seeking recommendations for new members to serve on the Depository Library Council (DLC) from June 1, 2012, through May 31, 2015. The DLC is an advisory body that counsels the Public Printer in matters pertaining to future trends, innovation, and new concepts in libraries and information dissemination, particularly as they relate to the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).
Individuals appointed to serve on the DLC are typically leaders and innovators in key areas related to the future of the FDLP. Currently, this includes essential elements of development, management, and dissemination of electronic information, such as version control, authentication, and preservation of digital information. In addition, ideal candidates for such service should possess a commitment to the mission and goals of the FDLP, with a focus on increasing access and services as related to Federal Government information.
Recommendations will be accepted now through January 20, 2012. To submit the names of one or more qualified individuals for consideration, please visit the FDLP Desktop at <http://www.fdlp.gov/component/form/?form_id=23>.
Posted in Federal government, Information issues, Information policy, Libraries, Library management, Volunteer opportunities
Posted on September 7, 2011.
The Government Printing Office (GPO) has announced that the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) will be ending their Depository Access to Reports Scientific and Technical (DARTS) pilot project. The GPO announcement:
In early 2007 the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) and U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) launched a pilot project to provide depository library access to approximately 240,000 scientific and technical publications from 1964-2000. Previously many of these resources had not been made available through the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). Though NTIS is exempt from FDLP obligations by the provisions of Title 44, United States Code, §1903 because its products and services “must necessarily be sold in order to be self-sustaining,” there was joint interest in exploring how NTIS could participate in the FDLP through a pilot project by providing access to its electronic content.
Depository library access to Depository Access to Reports Scientific and Technical (DARTS) was extended beyond the planned one year with the hope of offsetting operating and maintenance costs from the purchase of these reports and other product revenue. NTIS can no longer accommodate free FDLP access to scientific and technical reports and still be self-sustaining and in compliance with their authorizing legislation. The DARTS Pilot Project between NTIS and the FDLP will end September 30, 2011. For more details read the DARTS Pilot Project Final Summary.
Though this pilot will cease, both GPO and NTIS are still interested in exploring other partnership possibilities to increase access to the Government’s scientific and technical report literature and eliminate possible duplicative efforts.
Posted in Federal government, Information policy, Science information
Posted on August 22, 2011.
In their FY2012 budget proposal, the Commerce Department proposes closing the Census Bureau’s Statistical Compendia branch and terminating publication (online and in print) of the venerable Statistical Abstract of the United States produced by that branch. Other programs, such as Current Industrial Reports, are also on the block. We have blogged about the issue previously:
Proposed Census Cuts Include Statistical Abstract, 22 March 2011
Census Bureau: Consequences of Budget Cuts, 16 July 2011
SLA headquarters has blogged: SLA, AALL, and MLA Oppose Funding Cuts for the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract Program, 11 April 2011. ALA and ARL have also come out in support of funding for the program.
Alesia McManus, a Maryland librarian, took the initiative to set up the Facebook page Save the Statistical Abstract. This caught the eye of economics columnist Robert J. Samuelson, who wrote in support: Don’t Kill America’s Databook, 21 August 2011. Soon after, both Paul Krugman (Save the Statistical Abstract) and Ezra Klein (Save the stats) voiced their support. To my knowledge, no one has asked economics professor and former Administration employee Austan Goolsbee specifically about the wisdom of such cuts, but he was quoted back in June in an interview in the Atlantic as saying, “I feel like if I were stuck on a desert island, I would rather have the Statistical Abstract of the United States than the Twilight series.”
Posted in Data and statistics, Information policy