ATG Hot Topic: Report Federal Depository Library Program: Issues for Congress

by | Apr 25, 2012 | 0 comments

 As many of you know, the new Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report Federal Depository Library Program: Issues for Congress is now available from the Federation of American Scientists, Project On Government Secrecy web site.

This is a big issue for a lot of folks and Miriam A. Drake has written an informative post entitled “Federal Depository Library Program: Legislative Issues”  for Information Today that provides useful background and analysis.

Citing the report Ms. Drake notes a number of critical issues including:

  • maintenance and availability of the FDLP tangible collection;
  • retention and preservation of digital information; access to FDLP resources;
  • authenticity and accuracy of digital material;
  • robustness of the FDLP Electronic Collection;
  • and the costs of FDLP and other government information distribution initiatives.”

However, not only does Ms. Drake point out the main issues highlighted by the report, she also discusses questions raised by the report “about who will and/or should be responsible for preservation. What is the best way to preserve born digital information? …  Where do electronic collections reside? Are data management protocols sufficient to assure no loss of data? What backup policies are in place and how much duplication is needed?

In addition to Ms. Drake’s post,  the librarians at Free Government Information (FGI) have chimed in with their analysis entitled FDLP CRS Report: Useful with Reservations #FDLP.  From their perspective, while the report offers a useful overview of the program, it has “a few significant problems” and should be taken with a grain of salt by members of Congress “before using this report as a basis for modifying the FDLP.”  They are concerned that the report “has taken Ithaka’s conclusions at face value and have not considered the many criticisms of the Ithaka report.”  Their analysis also notes what they refer to as  “threats to access to digital government information” that have been left out of the report.  One of the big concerns here is about a  “GPO-centric model of the FDLP in which GPO has usurped from libraries the roles of both preservation and access.”

Needless to say there is plenty to think about related to this report and some of it is controversial.  But fortunately many of you are more versed on these issues than we are so we hope that you will feel free to let your thoughts be known.  Is the Report Federal Depository Library Program: Issues for Congress on target or is it a flawed effort that needs to amended?  Should Congress base decisions about the FDLP on this report? Should other perspectives be considered?

Inquiring minds want to know!

(Image from the University of South Carolina Library website)

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