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									ELECTRONIC     DISSEMINATION      OF                       years this important function has been fulfilled by the
GOVERNMENT INFORMATION:    GPO AND                         Government Printing Office (GPO.)
THE   FEDERAL  DEPOSITORY    LIBRARY
PROGRAM IN TRANSITION                                      The Federal Depository Library Program

Robert A. Hinton, Indiana University Purdue                 In a letter to W. T. Barry, August 4, 1882, James
University at Indianapolis                                 Madison wrote “A popular government without
755 West Michigan Street, Indianapolis, Indiana            popular
46202-5195                                                 information, or a means of acquiring it, is but a
                                                           Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps, both.
Key words: Government Printing Office, Federal             Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a
Depository Library Program, Statistics                     people who mean to be their own Governors, must
                                                           arm themselves with the power which knowledge
Regardless of whether you are teaching statistics to       gives.” In a similar vein Thomas Jefferson wrote “If
students, conducting experiments or surveys,               a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of
employed in industry, government or education,             civilization, it expects what never was and never will
statisticians need information and data to work with       be..If we are to guard against ignorance and remain
and on. Without the grist of information and data the      free, it is the responsibility of every American to be
statistical mills would grind to a halt. The United        informed.”
States government is unchallenged as the largest
publisher in the world, and as such generates              The Government Printing Office (GPO) administers
information and data on most any topic imaginable....      the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP.)
surveys, reports, laws and legislation, data sets,         Title 44 of the United States Code (44 U.S.C. 19)
census information, agency records, inspection             provides for the establishment and maintenance of
reports, labor statistics , health statistics , criminal   depository libraries and the distribution of
justice information.                                       Government documents to those libraries for the use
                                                           of the public. At least one designated depository
Regarding government and statistics Josiah Stamp           library is in every congressional district, and
wrote...                                                   depository libraries are located in all 50 states, and
                                                           U.S. territories. This distribution of depositories
“The government are very keen on amassing                  guarantees all citizens access to federal government
statistics. They collect them, add them, raise them to     information gathered or produced at taxpayer
the Nth power... But you must never forget that every      expense. These 1,400 plus depositories serve as the
one of these figures comes in the first instance from      key source of government information for their area
the village watchman who just puts down what he            by collecting, organizing, maintaining, preserving,
damn pleases.”                                             and providing no-fee access to federal information
                                                           available through the depository program. Through
- Josiah Stamp, ca. 1900                                   its efforts the Federal Depository Library Program
                                                           provides its millions of users per week means to
Mr. Stamp made several astute observations, but left       “...arm themselves with the power knowledge gives,”
out one key element , and was too early for another        and      allows      Americans      to   fulfill   their
element to be realized. The government are not only        “...responsibility...to be informed.”
“... very keen on amassing statistics...” In addition to
amassing, collecting and raising statistics to the Nth     While there are different types of depository libraries
power, the government are also keen on distributing        (academic libraries, public libraries, law school
statistics and, with new distribution means at hand,       libraries, Federal agency libraries, State libraries,
are very keen on         electronic dissemination of       State appellate court libraries,) all depositories fall
statistical information. While as by-products of their     into one of three categories: regional depositories,
daily functioning individual agencies and departments      full depositories, or selective depositories.
of the federal government generate, gather, and
publish                                                    Regional depositories are full depositories which
information, there is one governmental entity whose        receive and keep permanently all materials distributed
mission is to make freely accessible to the general        through the depository program. In addition,
public the vast body of information gathered or            regional depositories are required to assist selective
generated at taxpayer expense. For well over 100           depositories in interpreting guidelines, preparing for
inspections, promoting depository libraries, and by        have created tens of thousands of computer systems
serving as a regional resource.                            that resemble mammoth electronic filing cabinets
                                                           crammed with disconnected data generated by
                                                           thousands of individual offices. Typically, data are
Full depositories receive and keep permanently all         poorly maintained and cannot be accessed by those
materials distributed through the depository program,      who need them...”
but are not required to adopt the additional duties of
regional depositories.                                     In 1995 GPO, at the direction of Congress,
                                                           developed “The Electronic Federal Depository
Selective depositories choose categories of material       Library Program: Transition Plan, FY 1996-1998."
to receive through the depository program by               The plan called for almost all of the information
selecting item numbers.      The over 7,400 item           distributed through the FDLP to be in electronic form
numbers represent series or groups of related              by the end of the 1998 fiscal year. Response to the
publications available from Federal agencies.              plan by the public, the library community, the
                                                           depository library community, publishing agencies,
Major types of materials available through the             and others questioned the success of the transition if
Federal Depository Library Program are: public             attempted in the short two year time-frame. Among
notices; handbooks, manuals and guides, (including         the doubts expressed were concerns about the
technical     publications;)    advisory      circulars;   agencies abilities to supply all of their data in
directories; proceedings of symposia, workshops,           electronic form, conversion of print and microfiche
conferences, etc.; forms; maps, atlases, and charts;       products, bibliographic control and locator systems,
posters; catalogs and bibliographies; reports; journals,   preservation issues and the ability of depository
 periodicals and newspapers; environmental impact          libraries to position themselves to provide the
statements; legal materials (including laws and            electronic access demanded by such a transition plan.
decisions;) flyers, brochures, booklets, and                A subsequent document, “Study to Identify Measures
pamphlets; statistical publications; marketing and         Necessary for a Successful Transition to a More
promotional pamphlets; monographs.                         Electronic Federal Depository Library Program,” was
                                                           issued in March of 1996. This draft document calls
Types of publications excluded from the FDLP are:          for a five to seven year transition plan, with a goal of
announcements of job vacancies; memos; Federal             reaching the 40-50 % distribution level of information
agencies’ directives and notices which implement           in electronic format by the end of fiscal year 1998,
personnel policies; data input forms; forms used for       with efforts from FY 1999 - 2001 focussing on
correspondence; personnel evaluation forms;                increasing electronic distribution and access.
solicitations; bid invitations; access passes, signs and   Characteristics of the Federal Depository Library
bumper stickers; working drafts; form letters; certain     Program (FDLP):
user manuals for computer programs; agency control
                                                            FDLP TODAY             ELECTRONIC
forms.
                                                                                   FDLP

                                                            Focus on Products      Focus on Services
Federal agencies are mandated (by Title 44 of the
United state Code, and Office of Management and             Dissemination          Access
Budget Circular No. A-130, “Management of Federal                                  -to information at
Information Resources” (July 1993)) to supply GPO                                  SOD sites
with copies of their eligible publications for                                     -to agency
distribution through the Depository Library Program.                               databases
   Traditionally these publications have been
distributed in paper or microfiche formats.                 LPS ships out          Users
                                                            physical products      electronically
The Transition Plan                                                                connect to
                                                                                   databases
In a 1991 GAO document (General Accounting
Office (GAO), “Service to the Public: How Effective         Information is in      Information is
and responsive is the Government?” GAO/T-HRD-               physical, tangible     online, available
91-26. May 8, 1991, pp. 8-9.) Assistant Comptroller         format                 via Internet
General Lawrence H. Thompson stated “Agencies
                                                          This decentralized network provides a standardized
 FDLP TODAY             ELECTRONIC
                                                          framework of identifying and describing government
                        FDLP
                                                          information resources, and provides assistance on
 GPO’s                  GPO assumes                       how to obtain the desired information. The GPO
 responsibilities are   responsibility for                ACCESS GILS site provides access to GILS records
 short-term             long-term access                  for 25 Federal agencies, and provides pathway
                                                          records that point to GILS sites for all cabinet-level
                                                          and major independent Federal agencies. Depending
                                                          upon the level of GILS record retrieved, searchers are
                                                          led to either an appropriate site or individual
New Forms of Distribution                                 information product.

Electronic data products distributed through the          Elements in a typical GILS record include -
FDLP are distributed in the format they are received      originator of the information, controlled vocabulary,
from the issuing agency - if the agency provides          abstracts, purpose, agency program information,
access or application software, or documentation it is    spatial reference, time period of content, availability,
distributed with the data. If the issuing agency does     resource description, order information, available
not     supply    access/application    software    or    links, access or use constraints, and point of contact
documentation, the data is distributed, and an attempt    information. When possible “hot links” in GILS
is made to describe software requirements.                records connect to the information site or product.

Modes of electronic distribution include: floppy disk,    GPO Access
cd-rom, fax-back servers, on-line via telnet session,
ftp, gopher, swais/wais, world-wide-web (WWW.)            GPO ACCESS was mandated by the GPO ACCESS
Formats of the information vary as well including -       Enhancement Act of 1993 (P.L. 103-40) and is a
ascii, comma delimited or other delimited formats, d-     major avenue of electronic distribution of government
base, wks, compressed, and PDF (portable document         information. Information currently available via GPO
format.)                                                  ACCESS includes the Budget of the U.S., Economic
                                                          Indicators,   Federal Register, Code of Federal
The varying distribution channels and data formats        Regulations, Congressional Record, History of Bills,
carry with them the obligation of statisticians to keep   Public Laws, US Code, and other Federal agency
current with, and to familiarize themselves with these    information. Access is by SWAIS, WAIS, and
changing technologies.                                    World-Wide-Web.

To ensure depository libraries are equipped to serve      Implications for Researchers
patrons needs in the electronic depository
environment, GPO has revised the “Recommended             The governments efforts to distribute information
Minimum Specifications for Public Access Work             electronically - generating information electronically,
Stations in Federal Depository Libraries”                 converting existing paper/microfiche publications,
The guidelines address minimum hardware, software,        creating links to existing publications in electronic
communications and connectivity levels that should        format, developing aids to locate information and
provide depositories the ability to handle the            providing access to information, have several
software, cd-rom, and connection needs for the            beneficial implications for researchers:
majority of government produced electronic
products.                                                 ¾        faster access to authoritative information
Finding the Electronic Information                        ¾        ease of updating information
                                                          ¾        increased usability of information (no re-
GILS                                                               keying and no re-keying errors), the ability
                                                                   to import into analysis software, linkages
The Government Information Locator System (GILS)                   with      supporting        information    or
was mandated by OMB Circular A-130 (June 25,                       documentation
1993) and established a government-wide system of
agency-based information locators to assist the public    Along with the benefits         come     obligations.
in locating and accessing government information.         Researchers need to:
¾       learn to use the access tools provided
¾       familiarize themselves with and stay current     “Recommended Minimum Specifications for Public
        with the changing technologies - WWW,            Access Work Stations in Federal Depository
        compression software, ftp, gopher, telnet,       Libraries”, Administrative Notes 17, no.07. ( May,
        wais, software manipulation packages, etc.       15, 1996): 6-8.
¾       learn means of citing information in
        electronic format                                U.S. Government Printing Office. Users of Academic
                                                         and Public GPO Depository Libraries. Washington:
Conclusion                                               Government Printing Office, 1989

Many researchers and other information seekers have
been aware of government documents as sources of
(statistical) information, and sought information from
individual agencies as need arose. Many of those
researchers have not known about the Federal             CITING ELECTRONIC RESOURCES
Depository       Library    Program,     the   Federal
government’s system of providing organized access        Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of
to the breadth and depth of publicly available federal   research Papers. New York: Modern Language
information.       This system has been fulfilling       Association of America, 1995
information needs for over 100 years. Like many
phases of today’s life the program is in transition,     Li, Xia.     Electronic Style: a Guide to Citing
becoming an increasingly electronic environment.         Electronic Information. Westport: Meckler, 1993
The changes brought about by the transition affect
and enhance the ways researchers locate and interact     FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WEB ADDRESSES
with federal information and statistics.
                                                         Census Bureau Home Page: http://www.census.gov/
RESOURCES
                                                         Economic Statistics Briefing Room (White House):
U.S. Government Printing Office. Study to Identify       http://www.whitehouse.gov/fsbr/esbr.html
Measures Necessary for a Successful Transition to a
More Electronic Federal Depository Library               FedWorld Home Page:
Program. Washington: government Printing Office,         http://www.fedworld.gov/
March 29, 1996 [draft.]
                                                         GAO:
                                                         http://www.gao.gov/
U.S. Government Printing Office, Superintendent of
Documents, Library Programs Service. Designation         GILS (Government Information Locator Service):
Handbook for Federal Depository Libraries.                 http://www.access.gpo.gov/
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1995.            su_docs/gils/gils.html

U.S. Government Printing Office, Library Programs        Government        Printing Office    Home        Page:
Service, Superintendent of Documents.          Federal   http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/
Depository Library Manual.               Washington:
Government Printing Office, Revised November             NIH:
1993.                                                    http://www.nih.gov/
Depository Library Council. Fulfilling Madison’s
Vision: the Federal Depository Library Program,          OSHA:
1996.                                                    http://www.osha.gov/
U.S.    Government Printing Office.        Electronic
Capabilities of Federal Depository Libraries, Summer     Pathways Services: http://www.access.gpo.gov/ets/
1994. Washington: Government Printing Office,            pathway.html
1995
“The Electronic Federal Depository Library Program:      Social Statistics Briefing Room (White House):
Transition Plan, FY 1996-1998." Administrative           http://www.whitehouse.gov/fsbr/ssbr.html
Notes 16, no. 18. ( December 29, 1995)
STAT-USA/INTERNET:
http://www.stat-usa.gov

United States House of Representatives:
http://www.house.gov

United States Senate:
http://www.senate.gov

White House Home Page
http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/Welcome.html

								
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