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Jill Vassilakos-Long's picture

FDTF: Discussion MidWinter 2014 (Philadelphia)

We are going to discuss past initiatives in which the documents community collaborated, look at the results, and determine what we would like to focus on from now until Annual. The goal is to identify a few items, report to FDTF in June on the progress or lack of progress on those items, and write a one page description for them that could be used by people lobbying for support for government information access and the FDLP.

These are some of the issues that our task force has worked on in the past:

1) Fugitive documents:
Background: this has been a concern of the depository library community since its inception and electronic dissemination (with more and more information published directly by the agencies onto the web) has exacerbated the problem.
Where we are:
What's next:
Questions/ issues that remain: Providing meaningful intellectual access via excellent cataloging? Simple metadata harvesting for quick and dirty access?

2) Collection of last resort:
Background: It would be difficult to find every FDLP document that has been disseminated. Damage, loss, theft, destructive digitization, etc. have all taken a toll on our "complete" Regional collections. As materials go online, fewer libraries see a reason to keep hardcopy.  At one point we worked on developing a "Collection of Last Resort." I believe that GPO even collected some documents from Regionals that were giving up their status.
Where we are:
What's next:
Questions/ issues that remain:

3) Mirror Server:
Background: As more of the collection goes electronic the concern that a computer virus or hardware failure could take out portions of the electronic collection have haunted librarians. A power failure in D.C. could make government information unavailable for the duration, a fire could take out the server and the back-ups. Plans were made to create a full backup and house it on the west coast, so that there would be redundancy (and it could help with sharing the load) for access to the collection.
Where we are:
What's next:
Questions/ issues that remain:

4) Hard copies of electronic documents as part of the Collection of Last Resort:
Background: Most documents are now "born digital." In many cases, everyone is pointing at the original, on an agency website. There have been situations where that copy became corrupted, and the agency did not have any hardcopy, there was no way to re-create the file. Some of these files could have been printed out and kept in a collection of last resort. (Andrea Sevetson tried to do some of this when she was at Berkeley, but it was too overwhelming for one librarian with a printer.)
Where we are:
What's next:
Questions/ issues that remain:

5) Have a comprehensive catalog of all government publications. It would incorporate all government publications, both depository and non-depository so that it is a true national bibliography.
Background: The Monthly Catalog used to include both depository and non-depository documents, depository documents were marked with a dot so that people would know that they had been distributed through the program.  This meant that a correct title and author could be found for any government publication, then, even if it was not a depository item, the librarian could perform an effective search for the publication.
Where we are:
What's next:
Questions/ issues that remain:

6) New item selection methods:
Background: Librarians have long asked for a more precise method of profiling their depository's needs so that they did not become responsible for materials that were not needed by their communities.
Where we are: GPO has created more detailed item selections and freed the process from the calendar (you may now add or delete items from your depository's profile at any time of the year).
What's next:
Questions/ issues that remain:

7) Online training modules:
Background: Depository Librarians usually work on their own in libraries, they are usually the only government information "expert" in the building and we need a system for continuing education and mentoring so that we can improve our skills and knowledge.
Where we are: GPO has done much of this – Sup. Docs. Mary Alice Baish will provide information.
What's next:
Questions/ issues that remain: Developing a list of most needed modules.

8) Authentication:
Background: One problem in the electronic environment is that patrons need to be certain that the item they are viewing is official and has not been tampered with (or hacked) in any way.
Where we are: GPO has created a digital watermark.
What's next:
Questions/ issues that remain:

9) Versioning
Background: Agencies have a tendency to remove documents from their sites and put up the latest version; which is fine, except some people want the earlier version, which could be solved by immediately having the PURL resolve to GPO's stored copy, which would be fine except that some people would then use outdated information when they thought that it was the current information....
Where we are:
What's next:
Questions/ issues that remain:
Better suggestion: connect the PURL to something that looks like a pre-AACR2 serial record
(with all the title variations on it and all of them linking to issues from their era), create a
mock-holdings record with every edition listed and linked to it's own URL.  The holdings
should be listed in reverse chronological order and, above the top one there should be
a "link to content on agency site" below that the first PURL should be "link to 2014
edition, which should be the same as the link to content on agency site, if you notice
that it's different please send an email to Joe P. at GPO ."  Libraries
came up with serials' bibliographic records and holdings records for a reason - don't
reinvent the wheel.

10) Print on demand
Background: Many librarians feel that some documents are easier to use in paper than in electronic format.  GPO considered creating deposit accounts (with an annual deposit from GPO) for each library.  This money could be used to select a few documents that are only produced electronically in print through print-on-demand.
Where we are: The program was not funded and the depository community seemed  unenthusiastic about the proposal at the DLC where samples were available.
What's next:
Questions/ issues that remain:

11) GPO offering MARC format bibliographic records to depositories so that such records could be uploaded to each library's online catalog
Background: Cataloging staff cost money, purchasing records for cataloging documents from vendors
costs money, GPO worked with Nan Myers to develop a low-cost alternative to encourage libraries
to get full cataloging records for documents into their OPACs.
Where we are: Maybe offer a handout on how - or a list of libraries (with their OPAC software system listed so you could find one with the same software as your library's) that are will to share programming scripts and do a little mentoring?
What's next:
Questions/ issues that remain:

12) Open URL compatible web addresses for govdocs
Background: Many libraries are running SFX or MetaLib, if PURLs were parsable these could be included in commercial databases and would resolve at the GPO full text.
Where we are:
What's next:
Questions/ issues that remain:
Explanation of a "parsable" purl: Chris Brown once showed a DLC audience how he had used the standard numbering format of a report series to populate the url field in a database and then upload every record for that series in his OPAC with a PURL. This should be possible for everything. For instance, if a document has an isbn then the PURL could be some prefix (GPO?) followed by the ISBN. If it were a serial, you could use the ISSN and have a page at that address that would list the issues (and include name changes, etc.) If this were extended to an issue level (the address would look like:GPOvi) would take the researcher to the table of content for that issue. It could even be taken to a page level GPOvip

13) Decision Framework for Federal Document Repositories:
Background: This was meant to address the questions of types of archives needed for the depository program.
Where we are: We're having difficulty keeping existing Regionals with existing responsibilities
in the program.  At this moment going further seems counter-productive.  (P.S. I'm not sure
I'm remembering this one correctly.  My feelings will not be hurt if you point out that I'm dead
wrong.)
What's next:
Questions/ issues that remain:

14) GPO create bridge between agencies and librarians as expert users so that librarian's could help shape electronic publications to increase usability
Background: Librarians notice how difficult many databases are for patrons to use and librarians have a lot of experience with both databases and novice searchers.  Agencies seem to only understand the needs of expert searchers and create databases that seem, on the surface, to be aggressively opaque. GPO could set up a service to agencies by getting a list of librarians who would agree to beta-test databases and give timely feedback to agencies.
Where we are: STAT-USA said that their database was the simplest database on God's earth...
What's next:
Questions/ issues that remain:

 

**************

Are there others that people would like to see added to the list?

Sincerely,

Jill