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Jill Vassilakos-Long's picture

Progress made at ALA MidWinter

Hi everyone,

I wanted to spend my term following up on concerns that had been generated by our community. So often we are reactive, and I wanted to define our priorities. When I look at the GPO 2014-2018 Strategic Plan, I like to think that we had some impact. I could be deluding myself. In any case, these are issues that were brought up at the MidWinter meeting:


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: The GPO Strategic Plan 2013-2017 cites the Statutory Foundation (U.S.C. Title 44) of the FDLP and states that they will determine and pursue eligible work not being handled by GPO. At the FDTF MidWinter meeting Anthony Smith of GPO stated that a 2012 web harvesting pilot project focused on 19 agencies. There was no description of the results of the pilot project. Mr. Smith said that GPO has inaugurated a formal process for nominating sites for harvesting. Nominate sites by sending email to fdlpwebarchive@gpo.gov. Sites are recorded as a one-time “snap-shot.” It looks as if the home for this is https://archive-it.org/home/FDLPwebarchive. He stated that some metadata is collected by the harvesting software and sent to the CGP. The time frame for it showing up for searches is not set. It may be found in the New Electronic Titles lists and In-Process Titles in the meantime.


Outstanding issues:

  • Superintendent of Documents Mary Alice Baish will look into the question of Smithsonian documents being sent out in GPO envelopes in paper, but not showing up in GPO online lists.
  • Does FDTF want to make any recommendations regarding Fugitive Documents?


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." At one point some FDLP libraries donated materials to GPO for a dark archive, but Congress did not authorize funding to pursue this.


Where we are: The GPO Strategic Plan 2014-2018 recognizes the problem:

4. New Library Services and Content Management (LSCM) Strategic Partners –

Library Services and Content Management will continue developing new strategic partnerships that safeguard historical Government documents, preserve print collections, and include cataloging, digitizing, and preserving tangible copies of government publications. LSCM will support efforts to increase public access to digitized collections of high value

to the American public


At the ALA MidWinter FDTF meeting Ms. Cindy Etkin stated that the 2014-18 Strategic Plan discusses the possibility of partnering with NARA in a preservation initiative.


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 has 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: There is a mirror server for all Legislative Branch (including Legislative Agencies information). Its location is kept confidential as a matter of security.  GPO also has a real-time backup server within its building. At the ALA Midwinter FDTF meeting Mr. Anthony Smith stated that there are plans for GPO to move the primary servers to another facility. At that same meeting, Mr. James Jacobs reported that there are currently 37 libraries, including two in Canada, involved in the LOCKSS-DOCS program.


Ms. Valerie Glenn spoke about Hathi Trust digitized documents. There are many, but some are incorrectly identified as under copyright and so are not available to the general public. If you find one misidentified in that way, contact Hathi Trust, they are willing to correct the problem on a case by case basis.


Jill Vassilakos-Long's picture

The 2014-2018 GPO Strategic Plan includes this:

9.National Bibliographic Records Inventory Plan —

Library Services and Content Management (LSCM) will:

■ Identify fugitive U.S. Government publications (e.g., published Federal agency materials within scope of the FDLP and the Cataloging and Indexing Program, but Agencies have not notified GPO of what they have published, or have not provided copies to GPO) and pre-1976 titles not in the Catalog of Government Publications (CGP) that fall within LSCM’s program responsibilities (Federal Depository Library Program and Cataloging and Indexing Program).

■ Create a common platform for electronic cataloging and metadata information to standardize access for LSCM staff, the FDLP library community and the public via the

CGP (http://catalog.gpo.gov).

■ Inventory historical publications at GPO for inclusion in the National Bibliographic Records Inventory and for possible inclusion in future projects.


It feels to me that they are devoting resources to the fugitive documents problem. I appreciate that it's part of the Strategic Plan.