ARCHIVED: GRO Working Document - June 26, 1995

PrintEmail

Working Document

June 26, 1995

ENHANCED LIBRARY ACCESS AND DISSEMINATION OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION: A FRAMEWORK FOR FUTURE DISCUSSION

Public access to government information is a basic right of the American people and the government has an affirmative obligation to provide it. Achieving the ideal of universal public access requires cooperation at many levels. Formal partnerships, with mutual responsibilities and obligations, must be established among the "Program Partners" responsible for creating, disseminating, accessing, using, preserving and evaluating government information. These partners are government agency information producers, depository and other libraries and other information providers, a central coordinating government body, and information users. The emergence of new technologies resulting in new avenues for disseminating government information in electronic format has forced all partners in this process to re-examine current practices with an eye toward improved efficiency and increased public access.

Toward that end, the library community has identified several key elements fundamental to enhancing public access to government information. In addition, it has delineated the responsibilities of each partner in the life cycle of government information. Three essential components of this process were: 1) that the current information infrastructure already employs multiple channels for the dissemination of public information; 2) that for the past 100 years, the Government Printing Office has administered the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) and centrally coordinated the printing, procurement, and distribution of depository publications, including electronic products such as CD-ROM; and 3) that within the FDLP, participating libraries make significant contributions of staff and resources toward accessing and preserving Federal information.

MISSION STATEMENT FOR A FEDERAL DISSEMINATION AND ACCESS PROGRAM TO LIBRARIES AND THE PUBLIC

The mission for an enhanced Federal Information Dissemination and Access Program is to guarantee ready, equal, equitable, no-fee access to government information regardless of format to the people of the United States of America through participating libraries. Building on the success of the current FDLP, the nation must develop a broader Federal Information Dissemination and Access Program.

THE FUTURE OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION

Electronic dissemination is an increasingly significant force in the future of Federal information dissemination and access. Electronic information offers opportunities to allow users, producers, and providers to interact in radically different ways. For users, the response time between information request and delivery diminishes and the amount and variety of information products expands. For producers, broad and efficient dissemination may result in cost-savings and rapid feedback on information content, viability, and usability. With a diversity of governmental providers and delivery mechanisms, many users will be able to access information directly from information producers. At the same time, the traditional role of librarians as providers of information is expanding to also include that of intermediary as users require increasingly sophisticated guidance in navigating a complex information environment. These developments will require a cooperative effort among all parties to ensure a successful transition to an electronic environment.

Today, the Government Printing Office, the National Technical Information Service, the Library of Congress, and individual agencies share in the dissemination of electronic government information. The decentralized and transient nature of electronic information dissemination has resulted in a need for a "Central Authority" to oversee and coordinate the multiple providers of government information products and services and to guarantee continued, equitable, no-fee public access to government information. At the same time, it must be understood that government information still resides and will continue to be distributed in traditional print formats and that for many products print will remain the required format for use. The evolution to electronic formats will not happen overnight, and the need to access and archive 150 years of traditional print material will never disappear.

ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS OF AN ENHANCED FEDERAL INFORMATION AND ACCESS PROGRAM TO LIBRARIES AND THE PUBLIC

The evolution of the Federal Depository Library Program to an enhanced Federal Information Dissemination and Access Program (hereafter referred to as The Program) must be conducted in consultation with current Program participants, information users, and others including Congress, Federal agencies, libraries, library organizations, the Depository Library Council to the Public Printer, and other appropriate groups.

In addition, any legislative changes related to the publishing and dissemination of government information must include statutory authority to:

  • Provide for a system of equitable, effective, no fee, efficient, and dependable access/distribution of all formats of government information from all branches of government
  • Provide for Congressional oversight responsibilities and the ability to enforce agency compliance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies
  • Provide for a strong, centralized, coordinated, and managed Federal information dissemination and access program
  • Provide for a system that includes Congressionally designated and/or by-law depository and partner libraries which have agreed to provide access to federal government information.
  • Provide for balance between usability and cost-effectiveness for the public, for libraries, and for government agencies when determining appropriate formats for publishing and disseminating government information
  • Provide for the inclusion in the Program of all appropriate government information publications and services from multiple distributors and partners, including but not limited to the Government Printing Office, the National Technical Information Service, the Library of Congress, and Federal Agencies
  • Provide for funding the Program at the level necessary to comply with statutory requirements and to ensure its effectiveness and participation in the National Information Infrastructure

LIFE CYCLE OF GOVERNMENT INFORMATION

The various stages in the life cycle of government information provide the framework to examine the role of each Program participant in the Creation, Dissemination, Access, Use, Preservation, and Evaluation of government information. Each partner must accept and implement their respective responsibilities without regard to format. The following table provides an overview of the responsibilities of each partner in the government information life cycle.

Endorsed by:
American Association of Law Libraries
Association of Research Libraries,
American Library Association,
Special Libraries Association

 

Working Document

June 26, 1995

PARTNER RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE LIFE CYCLE OF GOVERNMENT INFORMATION

 

The various stages in the life cycle of government information provide the framework to examine the role of each Program participant in the Creation, Dissemination, Access, Use, Preservation, and Evaluation of government information. Each partner must accept and implement their respective responsibilities without regard to format. The following table* provides an overview of the responsibilities of each partner in the government information life cycle.

* In order to make this table accessible via the Web, it has been reformatted into the following four smaller tables:
I. Producing Government Agencies
II. Central Operational Authority
III. Participating Libraries
IV. Users

 


 

PARTNER RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE LIFE CYCLE OF GOVERNMENT INFORMATION

 

I. Producing Government Agencies
CREATION

Create government information in a variety of useful formats and in consultation with other program partners

Comply with 17 USC 105

DISSEMINATION Provide government information products and services through multi-faceted dissemination programs at no cost to the public through participating libraries
ACCESS

Release products and services in a timely and usable fashion

Notify Program partners through the Central Authority about existing, planned, changing, or discontinued products and services

Develop GILS and other locator systems to help identify government information products and services

USE Provide documentation, software, technical support and user training
PRESERVATION Cooperate with other Progra participants to ensure all information products are archived, accessible, accurate and compatible with current and future technologies
EVALUATION Solicit and consider input from Program partners in the evaluation of government information products and services

 

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
II. Central Operational Authority
CREATION Facilitate communication between Program partners in the design and development of information products and services
DISSEMINATION

Distribute or coordinate the distribution of products and services in a timely fashion

Provide a variety of dissemination options and channels

ACCESS

Identify, obtain, or provide access to government information products and services regardless of format

Develop catalogs, pathfinders, and other locator systems to identify governmentinformation products and services

Establish standards and enforce regulations that ensure Program compliance

In sales program, charge no more than marginal cost of dissemination

USE Distribute/coordinate access to government information to Program partners at no charge
PRESERVATION Ensure that all information products are archived, accessible, accurate and compatible with current and future technologies
EVALUATION Provide avenues for the evaluation of the Program including advisory councils, Federal agencies, libraries, and the general public

 

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
III. Participating Libraries
CREATION As intermediaries, cooperate with Program partners in the design and development of information products and services and facilitate user feedback
DISSEMINATION Work with other Program partners to ensure the timely dissemination of government information through a variety of dissemination programs
ACCESS

Provide timely access to government information at no fee to the user regardless of their geographic location or ability to pay

Share resources and expertise through interlibrary loan, document delivery, reference assistance, and electronic networks

Supplement distributed Program products with commercially produced indexes, publications and equipment necessary to meet public needs

USE As intermediaries, assist users in the identification, location, use and acquisition of government information regardless of format
PRESERVATION Cooperate with other Program participants to ensure that all information products are archived, accessible, accurate and compatible with current and future technologies
EVALUATION Work with other Program partners to determine the success of the Program through formal and informal evaluation

 

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
IV. Users
CREATION As primary clientele, cooperate with Program partners in the design and development of information products and services
DISSEMINATION Work with other Program partners to require government information is being disseminated through a variety of channels and that it is appropriate to their needs
ACCESS Own publicly supported government information products services and therefore must always have guaranteed access to them
USE Government information products and services must always be provided in usable format to the public
PRESERVATION Must always have access to government information in well-preserved, accessible, and accurate condition
EVALUATION Establish criteria and provide through formal and informal evaluation the necessary feedback to determine the success of the Program