October Edition of the E-Bulletin

October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween! I hope you are enjoying a day filled with candy and other treats. If you need a break from the goblins and ghouls, please take a look at the October Edition of the Washington E-bulletin. This edition includes a reminder to sign on to the 21st Century Right to Know Transparency Recommendations, a summary of highlights from the Fall Depository Conference and Meeting, chapter announcements, and more.

Here is the Table of Contents from the October Edition:


-Act Now to Endorse Transparency Recommendations for the Next President!


-As Congress Enters Lame Duck Session, AALL Looks Ahead
-Highlights from the Fall Depository Conference and Meeting
-EPA Reopens Libraries, Calls for Comments on Information Access Strategy
-Expert Committee Releases E- Rulemaking Recommendations


-LLAGNY and SNELLA to Hold Events on Digital Authentication

FREE TIME WELL SPENT: Further Reading for the Information Policy Junkie

-Federal Agencies Launch Digitization Initiative
-General Services Administration Experiments with Social Media
-Government Computer News Article on Electronic Preservation

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Act Now to Endorse Transparency Recommendations for the Next President

October 30, 2008

As we frequently report on the Blawg, the Bush administration’s efforts to keep information secret and out of the hands of the public has been a cause for significant concern among law librarians. Of course, we’re not the only ones concerned with the shift toward greater secrecy. Just take a look at the diverse set of partners of OpenTheGovernment.org, including AALL, the Northern California Association of Law Libraries (NOCALL), and the Southeastern American Association of Law Libraries (SEAALL), and you’ll see a group of organizations that cross interests, political ideologies, and professions.

In July 2007, representatives of some of these organizations, including Mary Alice Baish and myself, met for a two-day conference to kick off what became known as the 21st Century Right to Know project. Organized by OMB Watch and OpenTheGovernment.org, the group set out to take some first steps toward collaboratively developing recommendations for the next president on how best to improve federal government transparency.

After that first conference, OMB Watch set off on a mission to gather more ideas. They interviewed experts; held listening sessions in Jacksonville, FL; Phoenix, AZ; Seattle, WA; and Minneapolis, MN that included many AALL members; and convened expert panels to lay the groundwork for what would become the transparency recommendations.

The draft report and its more than sixty recommendations is now available and OMB Watch is looking for endorsements. The draft report covers three main areas: National Security and Secrecy, Usability of Government Information, and Creating a Government Environment for Transparency. It also includes recommendations for the new president’s first 100 days and for a long-term vision to strengthen government openness.

AALL has endorsed it and we are encouraging our chapters and members to review the report and sign on. After eight years of policies that promoted government secrecy, now is the time for law librarians to show the next president that we believe access to information is key to a democratic society!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

California’s Law Library for San Bernardino County Wins 2008 Federal Depository Library of the Year Award

October 29, 2008

The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has named California’s Law Library for San Bernardino County as the 2008 Federal Depository Library of the Year! In presenting the award at the Depository Library Conference last week, Public Printer Robert Tapella remarked, “The Law Library for San Bernardino County has done an outstanding job of providing the public access to the documents of our democracy.” Proudly accepting the award was the Honorable Keith D. Davis, President of the library’s Board of Trustees. Also on hand was reference librarian George Carter.

The award recognizes the commitment of Law Library Director Larry Meyer and his staff to public access and the depository library program. In response to being named the 2008 Federal Depository Library of the Year, Larry said,

We are deeply honored and privileged to receive the award. We appreciate its significance to the depository community and the recognition the award conveys specifically to the Law Library for San Bernardino County as well as the recognition it places upon all Law Libraries that participate in the FDLP as selective depositories or through shared housing arrangements. In particular this award emphasizes the importance of publicly accessible county law libraries to the FDLP.

A past member of our Government Relations Committee, Larry spoke at this year’s Advocacy Training in Portland about the challenges his library faces. To confront some of those challenges, the Law Library has expanded the services it offers to patrons by extending its hours of operation, developing a new and improved user-friendly website and offering the AskNow Law Librarian online reference service.

Congratulations to Larry and his team at the Law Library for San Bernardino County!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

EPA Releases Draft Information Access Strategy, Calls for Comments

October 16, 2008

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its Draft Information Access Strategy, a report based on comments submitted to EPA online and in person since April as part of the National Dialogue on Access to Environmental Information. The draft, which includes recommendations for improving access to environmental information, is available for comment until November 14, 2008. For background information about the National Dialogue on Access to Environmental Information, see our previous blog post, “EPA Seeks Comments: Help Improve Access to Environmental Information.”

The recommendations put forth in this document include:

  • Enable People to Find Environmental Data and Information at EPA and Other Federal Agencies
  • Improve People’s Understanding of EPA Data and Information to Promote Appropriate Use
  • Organize EPA Information and Data into Formats that Promote Better Understanding and Facilitate Desired Uses
  • Use New Web Technologies to Empower People to Find, Understand and Use Environmental Information and Data

Each recommendation includes specific recommendations beneath the general title. For example, under the first recommendation, the specifics include “Improve the tools available to search for EPA’s digital information resources,” “Strengthen EPA’s network of information specialists,” and “Explore possible search partnerships with other Federal agencies.”

All four general recommendations include some interesting proposals for the future of access to environmental information and reflect the many ideas that EPA received from people like you. If you have comments about EPA’s report, be sure to submit your thoughts by November 14!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Magazine Chooses “5 Sites That Will Boost Your Political Awareness”

October 10, 2008

PC World has named its “5 Sites That Will Boost Your Political Awareness.” Included on this list are some of my favorite Web sites that I bet are familiar to many of you, too. Here is their list:

  • FedSpending.org, a searchable database of federal government spending which uses information found in both the Federal Procurement Data System and the Federal Assistance Award Data System. FedSpending.org, created by AALL’s 2008 Public Access to Government Information (PAGI) Award winner OMB Watch, is the model for the Office of Management and Budget’s USAspending.gov.
  • OpenCongress, which allows you to track bills, votes, issues, and members of Congress and share information through StumbleUpon, Facebook, and e-mail a friend. OpenCongress is a joint project of the Participatory Politics Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation.
  • PolitiFact Truth-o-Meter, a collaborative project of the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly. The Web site allows you to fact-check candidates’ speeches, TV ads, and interviews.
  • Project Vote Smart, which publishes the biographies, voting records, and other details about all presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, and state legislative candidates. It also provides information about the officials in all three branches of government and at the state and local levels.
  • OpenSecrets.org, which lets you follows the money in politics. The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) launched the Web site following the 1996 elections. OpenSecrets.org was recently redesigned to allow easy searching of candidates, industries, PACs, news and analysis, and more.

This list is part of PC World’s “100 Incredibly Useful and Interesting Web Sites,” which includes other categories such as “9 Sites to Help You Survive the Recession” and “7 Great Sites About Music and Literature” (which includes Portland’s Powell’s Books). You might not agree with all of the picks, but it makes for a fun and interesting read!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Open Government Guide Goes Interactive

October 8, 2008

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has gone interactive with its “Open Government Guide.” The Guide, which offers open meetings and open records laws in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, is now open for comments. Comments are intended to be tips or suggestion for other readers regarding  how the laws really work in the states. Comments will also help RCFP develop the next edition of the guide, expected to be published in 2010.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Federal Agencies Join Together to Define Digitization Guidelines

October 6, 2008

The Library of Congress announced last week that it is among a dozen federal agencies launching the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative to establish a common set of guidelines for digitizing historical materials. This collaborative effort initially formed under the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP).

The Initiative includes two working groups:

  • The Federal Agencies Still Image Digitization Working Group, which will focus its efforts on content such as books, manuscripts, maps, and photographic prints and negatives. Participating agencies include the Library of Congress, the National Agricultural Library, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Gallery of Art, the National Library of Medicine, the National Technical Information Service, the National Transportation Library, the Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Government Printing Office.
  • The Federal Agencies Audio-Visual Working Group, which will address standards and practices for sound, video, and motion picture film. Participating agencies include the Defense Visual Information Directorate of the Department of Defense, the Library of Congress, the National Agricultural Library, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Library of Medicine, the Smithsonian Institution, the Government Printing Office and the Voice of America.

The Initiative’s newly launched Web site currently includes two documents developed by the Still Image Digitization Working Group that are open for comment until mid-November. The Web site also provides a glossary of digitization terms and concepts, digitization-related news and events, and background information on the Initiative.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

EPA Libraries Reopen After More Than Two Years

October 3, 2008

On Tuesday, September 30, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reopened its regional libraries in Chicago, Dallas, and Kansas City. The EPA Headquarters Repository and Chemical Library also opened as a combined library in Washington, DC. The reopenings followed a $1 million order (see page 35) from Congress in the FY 2008 appropriations omnibus bill (P.L. 110-161) to EPA to restore its library services across the country.

On Wednesday, September 24, EPA posted a Notice of Access to EPA Library Services [PDF] in the Federal Register. The Federal Register notice reflects the Memorandum of Agreement between EPA and the American Federation of Government Employees Council 238, which we wrote about here in August. As we noted then, the Memorandum addressed some of the concerns that AALL, the Medical Library Association (MLA), and the Special Libraries Association (SLA) highlighted in a letter in July to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN-6), Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI-15), and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA-30), Chairmen of the committees with jurisdiction over EPA. The letter outlined three major concerns: first, that EPA should further define the scope of the libraries’ required core collections; second, that EPA should lay out the requirements for hiring knowledgeable professional staff; and third, that EPA must work with the relevant unions and other stakeholders to ensure adequate space for the libraries.

AALL representatives first met with EPA officials about the library closures in spring 2006. We are grateful to Congress for holding hearings on this issue (including this one held by the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight in March, which we wrote about here) and for providing EPA with a $1 million to reopen its libraries. We are very pleased that the libraries are now open to the public once again.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Fall 2008 Federal Depository Library Conference

October 2, 2008

The U.S. Government Printing Office has posted the final schedule and preliminary agenda for the Fall 2008 Federal Depository Library Conference to be held in Arlington, VA on October 20-22. If you haven’t already registered, you may do so here. We hope to see many of you there!

Hat tip to the Special Libraries Association’s Government Information Division blog!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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