Government Docs

UK Freedom of Information: survey rates compliance

Anonymous Patron writes "This Year a New UK Law allowed FOI requests. Month #1 (January) saw about 4,000 requests. Now We Learn Only seven out of 439 local authorities in the UK are fully ready and receptive to requests for information under the new Freedom of Information (FOI) regime, according to a survey by information management company IDOX plc, released yesterday."

Governing in the Dark: Cuts in the Depository Library program

Anonymous Patron writes "One From Fort Worth Weekly Online says Librarians are once again fighting to keep public records public.

“This administration is trying to keep information from the U.S. citizens,’’ said Monika Antonelli, a UNT librarian who monitors attempts to restrict government information. “When I worked in government documents at UNT, the cost of the program was [about] 20 cents per taxpayer, and it was money well spent. The Depository Library program received less funding than the budget for military bands. This is not about saving money but about stifling information.’’

The latest skirmish erupted last month when Russell, at a meeting of the American Library Association in Boston, announced the federal government’s 2006 budget would include money for only “50 essential titles’’ for the nation’s 1,250 depository libraries. Hundreds of other documents that the government for years had deposited in the nation’s libraries would no longer be available except online."

CIA agents seize senator's papers from UW Library

Rob Lopresti writes "The Everett (Wa) Herald reports that five government agents, including representatives of the CIA, Energy and Defense Depts, removed papers from the archival collection of Senator Henry (Scoop) Jackson at the University of Washington. Fewer than ten documents were removed.

"Rickerson said the papers, now considered classified, are being held in a secure location on campus until federal authorities declassify them."

The papers were donated by Jackson's widow following his death twenty years ago."

Documents offer wacky insights into nation's past

Anonymous Patron writes "A neat little piece at MercuryNews.com on a special humor tour of the National Archives in Washington. Some stuff the author saw is actually on public display, and some is hidden away in the ``stacks,'' which is an enormous warren of old files that has a distinctive smell and feel."

Budget cuts likely to shelve DNR research-based library

Anonymous Patron writes "Being beloved will only get you so far I guess. The Baltimore Sun Reports The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is likely losing both its library and its beloved librarian.

Cecelia Petro, who opened the library in 1998 after some scientists decided that a research-based institution needed one, is among eight people agencywide who are being laid off under the governor's budget."

White House Letter: Why is Bush reading Tom Wolfe? Don't ask

Anonymous Patron writes "White House Letter: Why is Bush reading Tom Wolfe? Don't ask: If you ask the White House what President George W. Bush is reading these days, the press office will call back with the official list: "His Excellency: George Washington," by Joseph J. Ellis, "Alexander Hamilton" by Ron Chernow and, not least, the Bible.

What the official list omits is Tom Wolfe's racy new beer- and sex-soaked novel, "I Am Charlotte Simmons." The president, a Wolfe fan, has not only read the book but is enthusiastically recommending it to friends."

It's democracy vs. secrecy

Anonymous Patron writes "The History News Service (There's a History News Service?) reports on Inauguration Day, the classified papers of former President George H.W. Bush became eligible for release -- as the law specifies, 12 years after he left office. They touch on the Weinstein nomination as part of a larger battle over White House secrecy. The author says Weinstein personifies many of the problems of secrecy in Washington today. His record on access to documents is bad."

Librarians in E-government

One librarian's take on the role of (and need for) librarians in e-government projects:

There are many librarians involved in e-government projects. I chair a group of information professionals working in local government and many of its members will have been involved in e-government in one way or another. Librarians should be at the forefront as the provision of information is a key element; and that is what we do best.

I do not know if Ranganathan's Five Laws of Library Science are still taught but it would be interesting to apply these to e-government. The five laws are:

  • 1. Books are for use
  • 2. Every reader his or her book
  • 3. Every book its reader
  • 4. Save the time of the reader
  • 5. The library is a growing organism

    If we begin to apply these laws to the provision of information to the public and the interactions being offered by e-government they still make a lot of sense.

    Complete article from the new issue of Ariadne.

  • Government Printing Office Revises Access Policy

    Durst writes "Government Executive News has a story about GPO's policy regarding public access to agency information.

    The new policy requires a more detailed review of why an agency wanted to withdraw, withhold or restrict access to a document, and whether alternative options could be used. The option would depend on what the agency wanted to do. For example, if they wanted to withdraw a publication, the option might be to edit it so it can be printed anyway. If they wanted to hold a publication, the option might be to put a timeline on how long it's held.

    "

    GPO to discontinue nearly all print distro by Oct 2005

    An ALA Washington Office Press Release is extremely disturbing, if correct:

    ALAWON: American Library Association Washington Office Newsline
    Volume 14, Number 6
    January 27, 2005

    In This Issue: Call for Oversight on GPO Initiatives

    ACTION:

    We are writing to ask you to contact your Members of Congress to tell them about GPO's proposed plan that would eliminate almost all print distribution to depository libraries beginning October 1, 2005. Urge them to support a call for an oversight hearing on the impact of the
    Government Printing Office's (GPO) proposed initiatives and changes to the Federal Depository Library Program and the impact on the public's
    permanent access to authentic government information.

    Use our Legislative Action Center http://capwiz.com/ala/home/> to send a letter, or use the toll-free free number to call members of Congress: 1-800-839-5276.

    We also urge you to send copies of your letters to Public Printer Bruce James (bjames@gpo.gov / fax: 202-512-1347) and to Superintendent of Documents Judith C. Russell (jrussell@gpo.gov / fax: 202-512-1432).

    We will send out a separate ALAWON Alert on the GPO budget issue when their budget request is officially submitted.

    BACKGROUND:

    The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP)was established by Congress more than 150 years ago as a geographically dispersed system to provide no-fee public access to government information and has proven to be a very successful partnership among Congress, federal agencies, the courts, the Government Printing Office (GPO), depository libraries, and the American public in ensuring the public's right to know.

    At ALA's Midwinter Meeting in Boston, GPO informed the library community that their FY 2006 Salaries and Expenses (S&E) appropriations request for the FDLP will be for level funding (at the 2005 level), plus cost of living increases. One result of this request will be drastic changes in the distribution of print materials to our Nation's federal depository libraries. These proposed changes would take effect October 1, 2005.

    Among the changes, the key is that GPO would produce and distribute in print only the 50 titles listed on the "Essential Titles for Public Use in Paper Format." The Essential Titles List
    http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fdlp/pubs/estitles.html", last revised in 2000, does not include important materials including maps, geological information, administrative decisions and other congressional
    and legal materials, as well as Senate and House reports, documents, and hearings that inform the citizenry of the workings of Congress. All other agency information will be disseminated only in electronic format to depository libraries - whether they are equipped to handle this format adequately and whether or not this is the most usable format for their publics. This decision, if allowed to go forward, will have a profound negative impact on access to authenticated government information in formats most usable to the American public.

    Second, to supplement the "Essential Titles" publications, GPO will initiate a Print on Demand (POD) Allowance Program of $500 for selective
    depository libraries and $1500 for the 53 regional depository libraries for purchase of other titles. GPO is, in effect, asking Congress to support and depository libraries to accept a new fee-based Print on Demand Program that has not yet been established or tested. -- Read More

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