Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Access to US govt information in the digital age

James Jacobs and Shinjoung Yeo, Government Information in the Digital Age: The Once and Future Federal Depository Library Program, a preprint of an article to appear in the Journal of Academic Librarianship, May 2005. Abstract: '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.'

From the body of the paper: 'While GPO has taken a leading role in developing online access tools and proposing "a new model for no-fee public access", the steps it is taking and the plans it is outlining are, at best, incomplete and, at worst, badly flawed. Oddly, even as GPO identifies the need for adequate funding for public access to government information it deprecates the role of depository libraries that provide large amounts of independent funding for long-term preservation and access to government information. While recognizing that it cannot rely solely on Congress for funds it nevertheless plans to increase the scope of its role without any long-term guarantee of adequate funding. While talking about public access it omits and avoids opportunities to assure that access will be free and fully functional. We believe the GPO’s proposed model will do more to endanger long-term access to government information than ensure it.'