Newsletter of the Federal Depository Library Program
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May 1, 2003 GP 3.16/3-2:24/05
(Vol. 24, no. 05)
The End of the Beginning
Remarks by Gil Baldwin
Director, Library Programs Service
Spring 2003 Meeting of the Depository Library Council
April 8, 2003
Good morning, everyone. On behalf of all of the staff of the Library Programs Service, welcome to the spring Council meeting. It's great to see so many of you here to participate in planning our future. You have far exceeded the usual number to attend a field Council meeting, and given the state of the world, your commitment to the Federal Depository Library Program and its future is commendable.
We are involved in a number of new initiatives and pilot projects, as you have been hearing. This morning I will focus on some issues and activities that will give you an overview of things in LPS. These are the selection of our Integrated Library System, identification and public access, the Depository Library of the Year award, and our planning for a true library collection of our own.
Integrated Library System
Our work to acquire and install an Integrated Library System remains on schedule. We are committed to bringing up the core ILS functionality for cataloging, authority control, and serials processing this year. GPO's cataloging data will be available to you through an online catalog that will replace our WAIS-based Catalog of U.S. Government Publications. The coverage of the database will be immediately extended back to 1976.
We have attained a major milestone in our progress toward procuring an ILS. LPS has conducted an extensive study to select and procure an ILS. We have completed this review using a team technique that emphasizes due diligence, fair consideration of the competing vendors, and best value for the Government. The critical piece in the process was our decision to hire a top-flight library systems consultant to guide us through the evaluation and decision process. This has worked so well that the same method is becoming the agency standard for software procurements.
For the past six months, Rob McGee of RMG Consultants, Inc., has been working with our ILS team in a very focused intensive investigation of ILS offerings and what they could do for us. LPS has a number of unique requirements that were not covered by an off-the-shelf ILS product, but by working through the RMG fact-finding protocol, we have identified a system and solution that best fits our current and future needs. GPO is presently in the final stages of evaluating the proposal from one ILS vendor, partnered with a systems integrator based in suburban Maryland. Their partnership brings several exciting new capabilities to the table. Before June we intend to have all of our requirements and implementation plans documented in a signed contract. In the meantime, we are investigating the pros and cons associated with various sources for the initial data load.
It is exciting for our staff to see the ILS coming, especially since many of them were included in various aspects of the selection process. We are now planning the various implementation activities, such as data migration, user training, hardware purchases and installation, and more. Once we have the basic cataloging, authority processing, serial record, and OPAC functions in place, we will begin work on replacing or interfacing with our old legacy systems. These are the pieces that no standard ILS covers, and examining them will give us ample opportunity for business process re-engineering. One improvement you'll notice immediately is that the cataloging data will include all of our records back to 1976.
I want to publicly acknowledge the superb efforts made by Laurie Hall, LPS supervisory program analyst, and her team in getting us where we are today. Without Laurie's drive and commitment I don't know if this project would have gotten off the ground. The other members of the ILS Team are Cynthia Etkin, George Barnum, Yvonne Louden, and Virginia Wiese.
New Capabilities for Traditional Products
The new ILS will provide numerous opportunities to improve traditional products and services. The OPAC will provide far superior search and retrieval capabilities than does today's online Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or the printed Monthly Catalog. We expect the ILS capabilities to be so superior that we are thinking about providing only online versions of the Monthly Catalog, the annual Serials Supplement, and most of the biennial U.S. Congressional Serial Set Catalog. This change is consistent with the policy expressed in the 2001 Dissemination/Distribution Policy for the Federal Depository Library Program, (SoD 71). SoD 71, you will recall, states "As directed by Congress, the primary method of making publications available to the FDLP is online dissemination." In addition, the MoCat is one of the titles on the "Substitution List" which means that depositories may already substitute the online version and discard their print copies.
The MoCat family of products is produced using software and procedures now over 25 years old. As you might imagine, there is no ILS on the market, nor is there any off-the-shelf software, to produce book catalogs. Our antique software has degraded over time, and each issue is confronted with new problems and bugs. In addition, the COBOL language programs are nearly unsupportable from a personnel perspective. In other words, these products are extremely vulnerable, and we must plan for their replacement.
GPO plans to have the online version of these three titles up using the ILS by early next year, and these versions could completely replace the printed MoCat and annual Serials Supplements. The biennial U.S. Congressional Serial Set Catalog includes the Numerical List and Schedule of Volumes, as well as collecting in one place the bibliographic records for the all of the House and Senate Reports and Documents from a given Congress. LPS proposes phasing out the index and entries portion of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set Catalog and replacing them with an online version, but we would continue to provide print copies of the Numerical List and Schedule of Volumes.
GPO needs to make a decision during or soon after the Fall Council meeting if we are to substitute online for paper at the end of the current print volume. We want to start the dialog about these products, so that various views can be heard and considered in the decision process.
We do not make this proposal lightly. Before substituting online versions for print products we will first ensure that superior online versions are available, that we have Council's concurrence, and that the Joint Committee on Printing has issued necessary waivers.
Identification and Access to Libraries
Free access to Government information is a cornerstone of the FDLP. Free access means that any member of the general public can use Government information products in all media at a depository library without impediments. Providing free access by the general public to the resources of the documents collection, including electronic resources, is a fundamental Program obligation.
LPS has recently reviewed and modified the "Instructions to Depository Libraries" and the "FDLP Internet Use Guidelines" concerning the issue of requiring users to present identification. In light of current and continuing security concerns, many institutions now require identification from library users. In the past, the "Instructions" prohibited requirements for patrons to present identification to utilize depository resources. With continued security concerns, it is appropriate for depository library administrators to determine operating hours, access and security procedures.
There are more details about the identification issue in our Handout, but here's the bottom line: Identification requirements should not impede access to the depository resources. The FDLP exists to ensure access for patrons of all ages who wish to use the depository resources. We encourage depositories to provide the broadest, most open public access possible, while recognizing that the realities of our situation may require users to identify themselves.
Depository Library of the Year
I hope you know that GPO is accepting nominations for our first annual Federal Depository Library of the Year Award. Participation in the FDLP means that libraries invest significant time and resources in their public services. The Federal Depository Library of the Year award will provide special recognition for the library that furthers the goal of the FDLP by enhancing the American public's free access to Government information.
The award-winning library will be notified by the end of August and will be recognized at the 2003 fall Federal Depository Library Conference, which will be held October 19-22 in Arlington, VA. GPO will provide travel and lodging to the Conference for the depository coordinator and the library director from the winning library to accept a certificate recognizing their institution as Federal Depository Library of the Year.
Some of the criteria that we are looking for include:
- Outstanding service to meet Federal Government information needs in the library's service area.
- Creativity and innovation in developing specific community programs or use of Federal Government information, or a dramatic increase in their community's usage of Federal Government information.
- Leadership in creating public service programs that can be emulated by other Federal Depository Libraries.
Federal depository librarians, other members of the library and information services community, as well as depository patrons are invited to nominate any Federal depository library, regardless of its size or type. We welcome your nominations by June 30, and we hope that Judy, Cathy Hartman, and I will have lots of nominations to consider.
Within LPS we have been examining various scenarios concerning developing, maintaining, and preserving a set of collections. Our thinking involves becoming the libraries' library; the collection of record for the FDLP. I am intentionally not using the term "super-regional" as it does not convey the message right. Call it instead the U.S. Library of Public Information, whose mission is to maintain a collection of record of the publications of the United States Government that is permanently accessible. This is achieved by acquiring, classifying, cataloging, indexing and preserving those publications; by delivering services to Federal depository libraries so they may provide enhanced services to their patrons; and by supporting other information dissemination programs of the Government Printing Office.
Here are some of the assumptions we are working with:
- Think of this as the libraries' library for the FDLP; the collection of last resort to back up your local holdings.
- The collection would include print and digital versions of Government publications.
- The collection will add value to depository status, and support new incentives to be part of the FDLP.
- The collection will be comprehensive, meaning the end of fugitive documents.
- The digital collection must meet preservation standards and be available for repurposing.
These are not insignificant goals, and meeting them all will require significant additional resources of talent, space, technology and money. One of my team's goals is to develop resource estimates that can become the basis for future funding requests.
We are also examining various acquisition strategies for bringing material in to the collection. In the future, GPO will probably take a much more active interest in asserting the Government's ownership of collection material when a depository leaves the FDLP. We have been closely monitoring several situations in which certain depositories are threatened financially. In such situations GPO could very well decide to "reclaim" portions of the collections for our use.
Visualizing the End of the Transition
For several years I have been reporting to you on the progress of the "electronic transition." This winter we hit a milestone. Two-thirds of the new FDLP titles went online only. With our focus on the future, we cannot yet describe the end of all our travels, but we can see that we reached the end of the beginning.
Today I just hit the highlights; of course there are many other projects and ideas underway. This is a particularly interesting meeting and one that I'm sure will be memorable. It is also a jam-packed meeting, so if you find that you have questions or thoughts that you have not found time to get out, please send them to us, either personally or via askLPS.