JUNE 1996

Table of Contents

  1. DPL/Council Meeting Highlights by Susan Tulis
  2. GPO Alert : Action Needed
  3. Clare Beck on Electronic Future
  4. Public Asked for Reaction to GPO Draft Report
  5. GPO Draft Report Available at Depository Libraries
  6. Communicating With Your Elected Federal Representatives
  7. GPO Shouldn't be the Cinderella of Congress (Editorial)
  8. Lynn Walshak Responds to Bob Gelman
  9. Uncle Sam's One-Stop Stat Shop
  10. Census Bureau Marketing Electronic Subscription Service

(1) Council/FDC Meeting Highlights by Susan Tulis

The Spring 1996 Depository Library Council (DLC) meeting and the Federal Depository Conference were held jointly in Crystal City, April 15-18, 1996. This meeting was the largest attended yet - in part due to the full agenda. GPO, Sheila McGarr in particular, deserves many thanks for putting together such an action-packed session.

After and concurrent with the usual DLC updates and deliberations (detailed below), there were sessions on :

  • compact disc standards,
  • the Coalition for Networked Information's project on "Access to and Services for Federal Information in the Networked Environment,"
  • the issues facing NARA in terms of preserving and archiving electronic records,
  • using federal information to learn about community change,
  • using older U.S. documents (Serial Set and Congressional Record) for historical research,
  • using the Internet as a shared community based on library experience in Michigan,
  • FinanceNet and U.S. Business Advisor,
  • how to find defense information,
  • web sites for government information,
  • ERIC in the electronic age,
  • federal statistical policy,
  • working towards a virtual library,
  • facilities planning for the electronic age,
  • the origins and evolution of WAIS, Lynx, WWW and S-WAIS gateways,
  • regional input-output modeling system multipliers, regional economic projections, and gross state product data,
  • NOAA electronic products and services,
  • what's driving federal information policy,
  • roles for libraries and librarians within the NII, and
  • what works when talking to Congress.

    In addition, there was an opportunity for new documents librarians to ask all sorts of questions about depository issues, an opportunity to meet representatives from 5 federal agency publishers to talk about their latest techniques/practices in electronic information dissemination, various demonstrations of GPO Access and Pathway services, REIS CD-ROM training, and tours of PTO and/or LPS.

    While it was great having all these wonderfully informative sessions taking place, most attendees were thinking and talking about the draft GPO Study to Identify Measures Necessary for a Successful Transition to a More Electronic Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).

    Update by DiMario. The week began with a brief update by Public Printer Michael F. DiMario. He reminded us that GPO provides one part in providing government information; the front line workers are the ones that interact most directly with public. DiMario wonders if technology will create an elitist system of information that books prevent. He sees the transition plan and the task force deliberations draft report (or Study) together forming the basis for future directions. Because of that, he would like our reactions to them in order to plan for implementation.

    Political realities - Rep. Ron Packard, Chair of the House Subcommittee on Legislative Branch Appropriations, is not responsive to the need to extend the time frame for conversion to an electronic program. He also did not support the $500,000 for technology grants. On the other hand, the Senate has some sympathy for the plight of libraries. The Senate Rules Committee is still planning to hold hearings on revision of Title 44 of the U.S. Code. Agency reactions include concern about GPO's expanding role in the provision of electronic information and the conversion to electronics occurring too quickly. In addition, OMB has transmitted a draft bill to House Appropriations Committee but DiMario feels it is unlikely that Congress will accept the draft OMB legislation. DiMario concluded by reminding us that this it OUR program, not THEIR program.

    Superintendent of Documents, Wayne Kelley, told us this is an important occasion - the FDLP dates back 139 years. We are not here though to celebrate the past, but to invent the future within the arena of electronic technology, budget cuts, information being turned over to the private sector, copyright- like restrictions, and laws to ensure public access being ignored. Kelley thinks this period of chaos we are experiencing will continue for awhile, but that we will never be so broke that we will sell our democracy.

    The role of the depository librarian will be one of guide through this sea of change. Technology is only a tool that librarians will put to good use by making the technology better serve citizens. The only thing new is the history we've forgotten. Our responsibility to remind those who have forgotten is what librarians do.

    Judy Russell, Director, Office of Electronic Information Dissemination Services, gave an overview of the draft Study to Identify Measures Necessary for a Successful Transition to a More Electronic Federal Depository Library Program. It consists of the report, attachments (including the various task force reports), and an exhibit (strategic plan with a 5 year time frame). We need to keep in mind that this is not the transition plan which has a 2 year time frame.

    Russell went over the mission statement, pointing out that each word in the statement carries an important responsibility. She then went over the 7 goals listed in the draft report which cover such things as local access, central management, current range of access, locate information, permanent access, preservation, etc. Basically, the report reaffirms the goals the FDLP has always had. Following the goals section is the policy issues section. The next section takes each goal and looks at how it was dealt with historically and how it will work in the electronic era. Russell concluded by soliciting comments on the draft study and reminding us that the comment period goes through the end of May.

    Jay Young, Director of Library Programs Service (LPS), began by thanking all who contributed to the Study of the FDLP and recommending that we look carefully at the "legislative change task" section (task 6) of the Study. Despite all this work concerning the future, LPS has kept the traditional services going. In that regard, it appears that, for the first time in many years, the number of titles distributed in microfiche will be less than those distributed in paper. Ratio may be 60% paper to 40% microfiche.

    LPS is dealing with the movement toward a more electronic program through a project type approach, with 4 major projects:

    1. Acquire Electronic Information Products for the FDLP. (Robin Haun Mohamed and the Depository Administration Branch)

      This will include tangible products such as CD-ROMS, acquiring information for online dissemination via GPO Access, and the identification of information products falling within the scope of the program at other agency sites. For the acquisitions project, the current definition of "government publication" in Section 1902 of Title 44, U.S.C. needs to be broadened to include, without question, electronic information, whether published as a tangible product or made accessible via an electronic online service. Because of the changeable nature of many online electronic products in terms of permanence or location, GPO will concentrate initially on those electronic titles over which the Superintendent of Documents (SOD) has custody or control. The distributed information management environment of the Internet does not lend itself to a centralized holdings model. Instead, the originating agency, or the agency which has custody of the data, is best positioned to assume responsibility for it.

      As most documents librarians know, Preparing for the 21st Century: An Appraisal of U.S. Intelligence was the first document to be made available through the FDLP exclusively in an online format. It is listed on a GPO Web page entitled "Government Information Products Available on the Internet From GPO" which has products arranged by Government agency and alphabetically by title under each agency.

      In terms of establishing SuDocs numbers for electronic documents, an ad hoc committee is reviewing one proposal to keep some of the elements of the existing SuDocs class structure and adding a system generated number after it. As for notifying depository libraries of such documents, GPO does not intend to issue an "Electronic Products" shipping list. They will use the "New and Hot" section of the new page on GPO's Web site to notify the community of online electronic products available from GPO Access. Online electronic titles will not be assigned an item number since all depository libraries have access to them.

      The Electronic Transition Staff (ETS) has been exploring the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of various approaches to expanding the range of electronic content in the FDLP, including scanning. Based on test results, they have concluded that there is a limited use for this process. A selective number of paper documents that are approximately 30 pages or less, and are "graphics-intensive," may be converted to image-only files and made available via GPO Access. They feel these types of publications are excellent candidates for image-only document conversion. The most cost-effective method of incorporating additional electronic information products into the FDLP is to obtain that source data from the originating agency. GPO will be pursuing different approaches to this end, including reaching out to publishing agencies to provide GPO with their files, and obtaining electronic data files from printing contractors.

    2. Cataloging and Locator Services. (Tad Downing and the Cataloging Branch, with the help of the Electronic Transition Staff)

      Bibliographic control, at what has been the individual publication level, is a centralized service that the Superintendent of Documents should continue to perform, or at least fully coordinate. This project will encompass a range of activities from traditional cataloging to the emerging suite of Pathway services. GPO intends to provide full AACR2, MARC format cataloging for Government information products which come under their custody, whether in a physical format or an electronic file in a SOD facility. Their Locator Services, including Pathway services and GILS records, will index and point users to the content of other Government information products on the Internet. [Tad Downing explains in detail the new cataloging initiatives - see below.]

      Pathway Indexer will facilitate searching on the Internet by locating specific files through keywords. It functions like many other Internet indexers except that it is limited to only federal government Internet sites. Pathway browse will allow users to browse through subjects and titles for information. Using the topics from the Subject Bibliographies, government Internet sites are listed under the appropriate topic. Pathway GILS records created by LPS are integrated with the GPO GILS database. The Pathway GILS records are customized records in the GILS format which describe agencies at the highest level and point to agency Web sites and GILS holdings as well as to Depository Libraries.

    3. Strengthen the Depository Library System. (Sheila McGarr and the Depository Services Staff)

      In terms of library service expectations, every depository is expected to be able to offer public access to electronic information made available through the FDLP. This will include electronic information from another Government agency's site once GPO has directed and linked users to it via GPO Locator services. This requirement to provide public access to electronic FDLP information will be effective October 1, 1996. During a depository library inspection, GPO will use a functional approach to determine compliance with this requirement. The inspector will focus on the depository library's ability to provide public access to electronic FDLP information. The method selected by the depository library to meet this public access requirement is a local determination.

      The Recommended Minimum Specifications for Public Access Work Stations in Federal Depository Libraries, once finalized, will supersede the January 1995 Recommended Minimum Technical Guidelines. These recommended specifications are intended to assist depository librarians who are planning purchases of new personal computers for public use. These specifications are not intended to describe the best possible work station. Instead, they are the minimum, or baseline, specifications which should be considered when purchasing new stand-alone public access work stations. GPO encourages the purchase of equipment which exceeds these minimum specifications.

      Concerning the inspection program, GPO intends to change the focus so that the resources devoted to periodic inspections can be reallocated to support and services to depository libraries. Now that the depository library self-study has been adopted as an evaluation tool, inspections will concentrate on site compliance of those libraries which submit unsatisfactory self-studies, have major changes in staffing or facilities, have prior records of non-compliance, or if complaints are received from the public concerning depository library services.

    4. Permanent Public Access to Electronic FDLP Information. (Ric Davis and the Electronic Transition Staff)

      Historically, the FDLP, through the mechanism of the regional depository libraries, has guaranteed permanent preservation of, and access to, tangible Government information products. GPO believes that working to ensure permanent access and persistent bibliographic control are the two most important roles for the Superintendent of Documents and the FDLP in the electronic environment.

      With respect to purely electronic Government information, there is no parallel mechanism to ensure that this information is "archived" for permanent public access. As a starting point, GPO will begin with ensuring permanent access to information that is under their custody. Dealing with the agencies regarding information products on their Internet sites will be another matter, however. It is critical that we seek to guarantee that information will still be available in formats that can be permanently accessed and preserved in the future. Young believes that legislation will be needed to address this major question.

      The first question and answer period raised the following issues/concerns: the disappearance of information as it goes electronic - only appearing on a web site for a limited period of time; scanning publications less than 30 pages may be the most popular items used by smaller selectives who may not have the equipment to produce hardcopy for users; the implicit assumption that everything except that in the core group IS appropriate for conversion to electronic; the inherent contradiction when agencies are required to cover costs for information products, but still provide free dissemination through FDLP; all this great online access will require specialized libraries to lose their ability to specialize; the need for good documentation to provide meaningful and effective access to government information; are all the costs associated with what GPO's doing now being identifying and how can we live with a 50% cut if it actually comes; some agencies are counting on the FDLP to provide paper archival copies of the information they are taking off the WWW; how do we know that information on the Internet is authentic; problem of citing to electronic documents; who will be selling publications in print for those who don't want the electronic version.

    Tuesday began with a focused discussion on bibliographic access in an electronic environment. To set the stage, Tad Downing, Cataloging Branch Chief, gave an overview of his section's transition plans. New challenges facing GPO include the need for some new cataloging practices and the need to establish an appropriate level of services for titles that are published at non-GPO federal Internet sites. One new cataloging practice has to do with links for a record. GPO has identified 12 possible links, using a variety of fields (765, 767, 770, 772, 773, 775, 776, 777, 780, 785, 786, 787). A links policy incorporating all 12 links may result in records that are so complex that few people could understand the record. Therefore, GPO is proposing to add linking information to the record for the most recent tangible form, to a record for the most recently available remotely accessible title, if that title is made available at the GPO site.

    The second issue concerns the inclusion of GPO Internet web site URLs in Monthly Catalog records. GPO's policy is that if monographs, maps and serials are available both as tangible or physical forms and as remotely accessible publications, they will catalog from the physical form and add a 530 note with the URLs for the GPO web site electronic version record. The 856 field will be reserved for use in cataloging publications that are available exclusively as remotely accessible titles. At present, GPO does not feel that maps and monographs published at non-GPO Internet sites are stable enough to include the URL data, but they will include it for serials.

    Downing went on to describe the Pathway Bib Records project, a subset to the Pathway project. The purpose of the Pathway Bib Records project is to identify, locate, briefly describe and offer access to selected titles published at non-GPO Internet sites. These titles would be represented by abbreviated records consisting of 6-7 GILS-like elements: title, edition statement, publisher, date, notes, and GPO Subject Bibliography terms as local subject headings. GPO also expects to have hotlinks to take the person from the Pathway Bib Record to the electronic text at the site. There will be no authority work for these records, rather, GPO's time will be spent locating and verifying this information. Note, this is a transition plan, which will change and adapt as time goes on.

    The question and answer period after this presentation raised the following issues/concerns: does GPO cataloging staff have the necessary equipment to access the Internet; the problem with determining that while the "title" no longer exists in paper, the information found in that title is available on the Internet - how do you determine this, how do you inform the public of this fact; it would be helpful for GPO to create an agency site record indicating what the agency's policy is for its Internet site; the unanswered question of whether including a URL in a record which might turn out to produce a dead end down the road is more helpful than no URL; will the Pathway Bib Records be transferrable to MARC records; the use of Subject Bibliography terms - are these too broad to be helpful; how will electronic records get into libraries' online catalogs since they won't have item numbers; since there will not be any electronic shipping lists, how will libraries be notified of new electronic publications; patrons don't care if the information is on a GPO web site or an agency web site, they just want to find the information - how can there be a coordinated effort to provide access to the entire wealth of information that's out there.

    The second focused discussion was on long-term retention and access to electronic information. Issues/concerns identified during this discussion include: the need for summary files so that the user has some idea of what is available to them without having to pull up the full file; there is a big difference between access and preservation; concern that once the information goes to NARA accessing it will become a FOIA-like process which is unacceptable; how will we deal with the CD-ROMs we currently have down the road - will we have the equipment to access the information; access issues are real, deal with them now or you can wait for them to change into some other electronic problem - GPO has got to take the lead and work with agencies to get their information online because that is how the public wants it, whether libraries can access it that way or not; if the information fits within your collection development policy, you might want to download and/or print off to ensure permanency; need for electronic regionals to store the electronic information so you don't have just one site containing everything; question of how do you decide when to archive a file; and how do you determine the authenticity of the data.


    GPO Study Issues:

  • Commends GPO for completing the Study, for including representatives from the library community and for carefully considering the input of depository libraries throughout the study process.

  • Supports the "Principles for Federal Government Information" and the "Missions and Goals for the FDLP" as stated in the Study and recommends the adoption of these statements for the FDLP.

  • Commends GPO for adopting a 5-year time frame for the initial transition to a more electronic FDLP and recommends that GPO continue to work to assess the capabilities of program partners and their progress towards implementing and expanding access to electronic government information.

  • Recommends that Public Printer seek common ground with OMB on Federal policy that would achieve an appropriate degree of government-wide coherence in public information as has traditionally been accomplished through centralized cataloging.

  • Commends GPO for its aggressive and creative proposals for expanding access to government information and providing access to previously fugitive government information.

  • Remains concerned that the transition to a more electronic FDLP continues to proceed without fundamental data necessary to determine the most cost effective and feasible alternatives for providing access to electronic government information. Urges GPO to continue to pursue the means for conducting the Technical Implementation Analysis outlined in the Study.

    Revision of Title 44:

  • Supports in concept the definitions of government information, government information product, and government electronic information services as articulated in the Study and recommends that GPO continue to work to identify and recommend legislative changes necessary for a successful transition to a more electronic FDLP.

  • Supports the concept of the role of the Superintendent of Documents in the government-wide coordination of public access to, and retention and long-term access to government information.

    Appropriate Formats:

  • Commends GPO for a timely test of the accuracy and feasibility and cost implications of scanning paper publications. Concern is expressed about GPO's conclusion that graphic- intensive publications of less than 30 pages are candidates for electronic conversion. An electronic format may not be suitable for the intended audience and may present printing problems for depository libraries.

  • Reaffirms the principle that paper is a viable format.

    Bibliographic Access Issues:

  • Applauds the diverse and creative approaches toward providing bibliographic access to electronic government information. Recommends that GPO provide a mechanism that will simultaneously search the Pathway List of Titles (those items residing on GPO sites) and the Pathway Bib Records (those items residing on non- GPO sites) or merge the files.

  • Recommends that GPO develop and incorporate, within Pathway services, records that communicate continues and continued by notes, as well as previous format statements. Further, notify depository libraries when print titles are replaced by electronic, Internet accessible titles.

  • Supports the practice to apply a SuDoc class stem and an accession number to government information accessible via GPO Access. It is anticipated that in the future, the approach may be superseded by other programs, such as the Persistent Universal Resource Locator (PURL) that is under development nationally.

    Retention, Long-Term Access and Preservation:

  • Affirms that the federal government has the responsibility to ensure that its information is preserved. Information available through GPO Access and other federal depository electronic information should be preserved in perpetuity unless determined otherwise by the Superintendent of Documents.

  • Recommends that the Public Printer coordinate with NARA to develop plans for preserving material and request clarification on specific aspects of what NARA will maintain. Recommends that GPO, in discussions with NARA, adopt the principle that information retired to NARA will, insofar as possible, be as accessible as before it was retired. For electronic information that NARA will not be maintaining, or for which it cannot ensure adequate access, GPO and the depository community should look for other partners willing to maintain access to the information.

  • Supports the concept of distributed housing as one means of ensuring long-term access and encourages the development of partnerships with non-governmental entities toward this end. As recommended in the Fall of 1995, urge LPS to assist libraries and agencies interested in cooperative agreements, and to develop model agreements to provide guidance on technical and service issues, including archiving responsibilities.

    Training and Communications:

  • Recommends that GPO offer a staff development component at the Fall 96 DLC meeting.

  • Encourages GPO staff involved in writing documentation for electronic products to work with Gateway libraries and other librarians in creating user-friendly documentation.

  • Recommends that GPO establish its own LISTSERV, designated as the official list for depository libraries. This will enable GPO to communicate directly with FDLP and conduct much of its official business electronically.

    GPO Operational and Technical Issues:

  • Recommends that GPO set as a high priority supplying their Cataloging personnel with adequate computer equipment containing appropriate software so that they can carry out their responsibilities.

  • Recommends that GPO put the Publications Reference File on the GPO web site.

  • Recommends that GPO invest in URL verification software.

    DLC Action Items:

  • Submit written response/comments to GPO on the Study.

  • Conduct an orientation session at the Fall 96 DLC meeting to introduce new documents librarians and first-time attendees to the mission, organization, meetings and work of the DLC.

  • Examine the issue of service expectations for depository information in online electronic formats. Lack of selectivity for online formats, and its relationship to collection development should also be considered as well as the relative responsibilities of regional and selective depositories for online depository information. Seek public input on these issues at the Fall 96 DLC meeting.

  • A newly created statistical measurement committee will provide a progress report at the Fall 96 DLC meeting on the following tasks: develop a statistical survey that can be used annually, create a glossary of terms to ensure consistent data gathering, explore or identify existing statistical studies that would be useful for these efforts, and identify a random sampling of depository libraries and other measures of data gathering.

  • Develop guidelines for the DLC web site and mechanisms for adding/updating information.

    As you can see, a lot took place in a short period of time. I can't even begin to summarize the various programs that were held over the 3 1/2 days - you will have to wait for the proceedings of the Federal Depository Conference. As always, if you have specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Source: Susan E. Tulis, University of Virginia Law Library, 580 Massie Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903-1789; Phone 804/924-3504; Fax 804/982-2232; E-Mail:; GOVDOC-L, May 2, 1996.

    (2) GPO Alert : Action Needed

    In a February 23rd joint letter to Public Printer Michael DiMario, the major library associations (AALL, ALA, ARL, MLA and SLA) expressed concerns that the Transition Plan issued by GPO in December was based on an overly ambitious time frame, and that many of its assumptions were not supported by concrete data.

    Members of Congress need to hear directly from the library community regarding how the proposed rapid transition to a nearly- all electronic FDLP would affect YOUR library and YOUR users. Letters should be sent out within the next week or two, and copies should go to ALL members of the following committees:

    In addition, copies should also be sent to the Chairmen and Ranking Minority Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees (if you can mail copies to ALL members of these large committees, that's even better); to Linda Kemp, Staff Director of the Joint Committee on Printing; to the Public Printer; and of course, to your own Senators and Representatives.

    On the budget front, GPO has requested level funding for FY 1997 plus an additional $500,000 to provide "technology grants" to depositories. At the House Subcommittee on Legislative hearing on March 6th, Chairman Packard warned that agencies would probably not get increased funding for FY '97, and indeed level funding may be difficult to achieve. While the primary emphasis of your letter is to comment on the Transition Plan, please be sure to support GPO's funding request. If your own library needs a technology grant to meet the new minimum technical guidelines, or you can cite ways in which libraries in your community would benefit from the grants, BE SURE TO MAKE THAT CASE!!!

    Please also share this alert with depository libraries within your area who may not have access to this list. Thanks for your quick action.

    Mary Alice Baish
    AALL Assistant Washington Affairs Representative
    FAX 202/662-9202

    Gary Cornwell
    Chair, GODORT Legislation Committee
    FAX 352/392-7251

    Source : Mary Alice Baish, (, GOVDOC-L, March 27, 1996.

    (3) Clare Beck on Electronic Future

    GPO has just released the final report of the strategic planning it has been doing since last fall. It is over 100 pages, includes a strategic plan for the FDLP, and will be sent to depositories next week.

    Although it is a final report, it is being distributed as a "draft" (sounds familiar) with 2 months for comments to be sent to GPO. So....everyone who hasn't commented so far should do so, and those who have commented should do so again. I know it's a drag, but it's crucial, and with word-processing, you can recycle a lot of past comments.

    As Dan O'Mahony, Mary Alice Baish, and Gary Cornwell urged yesterday on GOVDOC-L, it's equally important to to get those comments to members of Congress about the appropriations. Last summer, only one Michigan member (Kildee) voted for the Orton amendment to restore funds to the FDLP when it's budget was being cut in half. The program was saved only by heavy lobbying of the Senate Legislative Appropriations committee by librarians in other states. So both the appropriations committees and every Michigan member of Congress must hear from us. We are the experts on public use of government information and we know that the proposal to go all electronic in 2 years is absurd and likely to do serious damage to public access to government information.

    P.S. The photocopiable flyer that GPO sent us recently is ideal to pass on to your member of Congress, since it has quotes from users of depositories that show real-world use.

    Source: Clare Beck, (, Eastern Michigan University, GOVDOC-M, March 29, 1996.

    (4) Public Asked for Reaction to GPO Draft Report

    On March 29, 1996, Public Printer Michael F. DiMario transmitted the draft report to Congress on the Study to Identify Measures Necessary for a Successful Transition to a More Electronic Federal Depository Library Program. In transmitting the report, DiMario stated that the draft was being submitted to comply with the legislative requirements for submission by March 1996, and he proposed an additional 60-day period for public review and comment. GPO plans to submit the final report to Congress at the end of May.

    The American Library Association, working with the Government Documents Round Table, plans to comment on the draft report. A preliminary review of the March draft shows that GPO has paid attention to the concerns of librarians and others about their transition plan released in December 1995. For example, in the newly released draft report GPO states that input from publishing agencies and depository libraries indicates a five to seven year transition is more realistic and cost-effective since it would allow GPO to change to electronic information as rapidly as the publishing agencies can produce it and the libraries can absorb it. The December transition plan projected an ambitious two-year schedule for conversion to a substantially electronic Federal Depository Library Program, a timetable of great concern to the library community.

    The ALA Washington Office would appreciate contributions to the ALA/GODORT comments before May 1. E-mail contributions can be sent to, or by fax to (202) 628-8419, or by mail to American Library Association, 1301 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 403, Washington, DC 20004, ATTN: Anne Heanue.

    Comments on the report may be submitted directly to the Government Printing Office via Internet e-mail to, by fax to FDLP Study at (202) 512-1262, or by mail to FDLP Study, Mail Stop SDE, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20401.

    (5) Draft GPO Report Also Available at Depository Libraries

    The draft report to Congress of the Study to Identify Measures Necessary for a Successful Transition to a More Electronic Federal Depository Library has been mailed to every depository library. It is also available on the GPO Web site and the Federal Bulletin Board/FTP site.

    The address on the Web is:

    The address on the Federal Bulletin Board/FTP site is:

    Dial in users (202-512-1387, Settings 8N1, Full Duplex) or those accessing by telnet to should select option I (eye) from the Main Menu or type /GO DEPOSITORY to get to the appropriate menu page.

    There are 20 files available. Four files are available in both ASCII text (.txt) and Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (.pdf). All other files are available only in PDF format.

    Source: ALAWON, Vol. 5, No.17, April 12, 1996.

    (6) Communicating With Your Elected Federal Representatives

    Your communication must compete with hundreds of other messages received daily.

    A clearly and concisely prepared communication -- whether by letter, phone, fax or eletronic mail -- gives an added edge in capturing te attendion of the recipient. Remember the following points when preparing your remarks/comments:

  • When writing to a U.S. Senator, address as follows:

    The Honorable (full name)
    U.S. Senate
    Washington, D.C. 20510

    Dear Senator (last name):

  • A U.S. Representative is addressed as follows:

    The Honorable (full name)
    U.S. House of Representatives
    Washington, D.C. 20515

    Dear Representative (last name):

    There is no need to know the room number of either a Senator or Representative. The Postal Service delivers mail to Capitol Hill by the name or the member or committee rather than room number since Congressional staff members and whole offices tend to move frequently. Note, however, the House and Senate have different zip codes.

    Many of the current (104th) Congress are more technologically advanced than their predecessors, so there is much use of the internet on Capitol Hill. You should be able to obtain the e-mail addresses, fax, or phone numbers by contacting the home district office.

    If you do not know the Washington office phone number of your Senators or Representative, you can dial the Capitol operator at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 225-3121 and ask for the particular member's office or committee.

    In framing you letter/fax/e-mail:

  • KEEP TO ONE SUBJECT. A multi-subject letter tends to dilute the message. When writing about specific legislation, refer to it by number, it popular name and/or subject, if you know that information. Frequently there is more than one bill before Congress dealing with the same issue. Do not assume the member or his/her staff is aware of this legislation.

  • BE BRIEF. Focus your remarks on the central issue and leave out peripheral information. Try to keep all correspondence on a single page and never use more than two pages.

  • BE FACTUAL. Do not use arguments which can not be substantiated.

  • PERSONALIZE YOUR MESSAGE. Avoid form letters. Legislators want to hear the opinions of thier constituents. Tell them what effect the bill will have on your particular library or organization.

  • BE POSITIVE. A negative attitude will most frequently result in a loss. Never demand or insist that a legislator vote for or against a certain bill. This does not mean that you cannot suggest or recommend - but state your reasons. Avoid making threats or promises.

  • IDENTIFY YOURSELF. If possible, write on business letterhead using your official title. If you cannot do that, make it clear that you are a constituent and why you are concerned as an information professional, etc.

  • BE SURE NAME AND ADDRESS ARE READABLE. To ensure that you will receive a response, you name and address should be legible somewhere on your letter/fax. When sending an electronic mail message, remember to provide all pertinent information at the end of the communication, such as your name, address, phone/fax/e-mail.

  • CONCENTRATE ON YOUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES. The Senators of your state and the Representatives of your district needs to know your concerns. They are your voice in Congress!

    Source : Handout from the 1996 Depository Conference written by Sandy-Morton-Schwalb via COGOPUB-L, May 13, 1996.

    (7) GPO Shouldn't be the Cinderella of Congress

    By Robert Gellman

    Once upon a time, when books were printed on paper, the federal government established the Depository Library Program (DLP). When the government printed a book, it sent copies to selected libraries nationwide.

    There's a limit to the number of copies that can be distributed, so the DLP made books available in central locations where people could find them. A simple idea that made sense then. It makes sense now.

    Along came the Internet. Agencies made information available through computer networks, so anyone with a computer and a modem can connect directly to on-line government data. Books are by no means obsolete, but a growing amount of government data is available now on the Internet.

    What is the future of the Depository Library Program in an on-line world?

    This question is the subject of a recent report from the Government Printing Office, the agency that operates the DLP. GPO has the bad fortune to be part of the legislative branch appropriation, and Congress is still desperate to chop its own budget. It already has abolished one congressional agency and cut another by 25 percent. The future of the DLP, as well as that of GPO itself, is in limbo.

    GPO proposes to keep the DLP at its current funding level but to shift mostly to electronic dissemination. Many paper products will be discontinued, and more data will be provided electronically. GPO will provide connections to agency-operated on-line information services. Data not made available electronically by the agencies, will be by GPO.

    This makes no sense substantively or politically. For government information on the Net, connections are available at the White House Web site and other sites operated by many agencies. There are plenty of search aids and links in existence.

    The impending Government Information Locator Service (GILS) is likely to be widely available as well. No one with Net access needs GPO's help connecting to on-line government information resources. Good libraries are using the Net now, and the new GPO plan will do nothing for them.

    Information that agencies have not put on line, GPO wants to get and make available through its own on-line facility. This is a mind-boggling task, one for which GPO has no demonstrated resources or expertise.

    Thousands of agency information products are not yet available electronically. The notion that they will be shipped to a central GPO computer and made available is ludicrous. Agencies won't cooperate. With multiple formats and distributed information systems, it may not even be technically feasible.

    When government data is put on line, the source agency should do it, as envisioned in the plans for GILS. A central information warehouse has no place in the electronic world. Collecting and manipulating zillions of bits of information from thousands of databases created by dozens of different agencies is simply unmanageable.

    GPO should provide on-line access to information that it publishes, but it should not be the electronic publisher for all orphaned data in government. The DLP does not print data that an agency chooses not to publish. Why do it for electronic data?

    Unlike many, I think GPO does a decent job of printing documents and making them available. It is not GPO's fault that technology has changed. GPO and its people deserve better treatment than they are likely to receive from Congress.

    But the agency does not understand the purpose of the DLP. The DLP exists to distribute printed materials, not create or preserve jobs. It is not the DLP's mission to publish data on its own.

    No matter how it might be changed, the DLP will not keep GPO in business. Nor does the DLP offer a long-term answer to the availability of government data. That will have to come from the Office of Management and Budget, the National Archives and others.

    With the Internet, there is no scarcity of information. People can connect from their homes, businesses, public libraries, government offices and copier stores. Even some bars and restaurants now offer computer terminals to patrons. They don't need the DLP to provide access to federal information.

    As long as the government prints books, there will be a limited function for the DLP. But the DLP will not live happily ever after in the world of electronic information. That program should fade into the electronic sunset.

    Robert Gellman, former chief counsel to the House Government Operations Subcommittee on Information, Justice, Transportation and Agriculture, is a Washington privacy and information policy consultant. Robert Gellman can be reached at (

    Source: GPO Shouldn't be the Cinderella of Congress, Government Computer News, March 4, 1996. Editorial reprinted with permission of editors.

    (8) Lynn Walshak Responds to Bob Gelman

    Did you know that we of the FDLP and GPO are Cinderellas? So says Robert Gellman in a March 4 issue of GOVERNMENT COMPUTER NEWS. (The actual article is entitled GPO Shouldn't be the Cinderella of Congress.) That may be just the right moniker -- after all, we often feel we are doing too much work, we're in tattered clothing, we don't get the respect we deserve, and often are not granted recognition by some people for the value of the national resource we maintain and serve.

    That is not usually the opinion of those who utilize this tremendous national resource: such as construction developers who need wet lands or flood data, flood data from the 1940s and 1950s; the fertilizer manufacturers who seek toxicity of chemicals; the public health departments or hospitals that seek updated regulations on laboratory techniques; doctors assistants who need guidelines to help in HIV contamination prevention; or the Hospice that needs to know how many people in the county are over 65, subdivided by age brackets and sex, who live alone and potentially will need health services, etc.

    Mr. Gellman seems not to understand the purpose and philosophy behind the establishment of the Depository Library Program. It is not just a means of distributing books. This program is to help keep the nation's citizens informed about our government's activities; it provides citizens information that supports business and economic development; it supports local community concerns such as health, safety, security and the environment; it supports public policy development and decision-making; and it supports research on a vast array of topics. We often quote James Madison who said "knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." Our nation must be informed or have the means of becoming informed. Only thus can we maintain our national defenses. Only thus can we know whether our government is performing satisfactorily those functions for which it was established.

    In the past the FDLP has not just checked out books, but has been instrumental in locating and analyzing data for patrons. Now, more than ever, it will be necessary to assist patrons with actual use of computers while also locating on-line or via other electronic documents, the information needed to serve citizens needs.

    GPO is a part of the legislative branch. Mr. Gellman says GPO "has the bad fortune to be part of the legislative branch ..." I can't see this as bad fortune. It is the Legislative branch that SHOULD have oversight of the distribution of government produced information. It is their statutory responsibility. The Legislative Branch and their agencies should be very particular about operating in the most cost effective manner.

    Gellman asks "What is the future of the Depository Library Program in an on-line world? ...The future of the DLP, as well as that of GPO itself, is in limbo." I cannot see that GPO and our program are in "limbo." I doubt that any other federally funded program has been subjected to such scrutiny and analysis as we have been during the past few months, or that more persons have discussed the issues to the extent that currently is happening. We certainly have not been forgotten!

    Mr. Gellman's remarks would indicate an interest in privatization of government information. So he ignores the efficiencies and cost effectiveness achieved by statutory, centralized control of distribution of information -- efficiencies for the government, all agencies involved, and the institutions providing service to such information. He ignores the issues of need for long term archiving of information and for indexing so that information can be located and obtained, whether it be tomorrow or in 25, 50 or 100 years.

    "Data not made available electronically by the agencies, will be by GPO. This makes no sense substantively or politically. For government information on the Net, connections are available at the White House Web site and other sites operated by many agencies. There are plenty of search aids and links in existence." But then he contradicts this statement of "plenty of links" by saying that "thousands of agency information products are not yet available electronically may not even be technically feasible" and that "Agencies won't cooperate" with GPO for centralized access. The FDLP has known for a long time that many agencies have not distributed their publications via the program; noncooperation at this time would not be new. We can hope that with strengthening legislation, better cooperation will be achieved. We must protect official, authoritative sources of government information. And maintain it, readily accessible for any citizen.

    When people understand the level of profits that can be developed with privatization of information, it is not difficult to understand why attempts are made to politically harm GPO and the FDLP. A few days ago I sought to locate copies of some articles written by persons who were promoting privatization. I thought to learn their arguments for upholding such policy. My library did not subscribe to the periodicals in which they appeared, so I sought to use the Carl Uncover resources to obtain copies. In my search I saw the authors I was seeking and other articles by Mr. Gellman also. The articles were one to three pages or so in length. Each one would cost $56.75 through interlibrary loan, with at least $50 being royalty fees. I did not order them.

    Gellman would have you believe that GPO is infringing on the publishing rights of executive agencies. "GPO should provide on-line access to information that it publishes, but it should not be the electronic publisher for all orphaned data in government. The DLP does not print data that an agency chooses not to publish. Why do it for electronic data?" This is giving lip service to the old "separation of powers" argument. He knows as well as we do, that GPO cannot tell an agency what they will publish. The issue is not who compiles information. All the hoopla are manipulative attempts to make the public think it is -- but the real driving force is pure and simply desire for sale of government information. We must strengthen the present laws so that agencies will become willing to make their publications known and accessible, in a better way than a brief appearance on a web page. Agencies properly functioning so that their missions are met, should have nothing to fear about greater openness with access to government information.

    Some of the noises we hear arising since distribution of the recent GPO Transition Plan, are cages being rattled by those agencies who are fearful for their own self interests. Congress must bear some of the responsibility, for they have created statutes where agencies can sell their information but perhaps there is not specific enough instruction for inclusion of these publications in the FDLP without cost. I've heard noone put forth acceptable rationale for the destruction of GPO and the FDLP. What we are hearing are political, negative campaign statements that are intended to blacken the name of or kill off GPO and the FDLP, which are viewed as a threat by some agencies to their selling of government information. Or from private industry who desire profits at the expense of the taxpaying public. What does concern me are not only statements such as the one reflecting the opinion of Mr. Gellman, but such behaviors as that of OMB and the Congressional Research Service, both of whom are knowledgeable of the mission of GPO. Yet these agencies provided misinformation to the House Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee recently by including the name of GPO in a list of agencies they purported were funding programs that impacted educational curriculum in public schools such as reading, math, and science.

    Contrary to Mr. Gellman, the nation does need the FDLP to help provide access to authoritative, official, government information, whether it be paper or electronic format. If we work to provide our congress reliable, factual information, congress will be able to make reasoned decisions that will serve the informational needs of our citizens. Mr. Gellman is also mistaken saying that our FDLP program should "fade into the electronic sunset." That would be impossible at this time. We are in the dawning of an electronic transmission world. I suspect the "sunset" is in the very distant future!

    Source: Lynn G. Walshak, Head, Government Documents Dept., Henderson Library, Georgia Southern University, Depository Library 0117; (Ph. 912-681-5117; FAX: 912-681-5034; E-mail: LWalshak@GaSou.Edu), GOVDOC-L, April 3, 1996.

    (9) Uncle Sam's One-Stop Stat Shop

    Government statistics are getting easier to find, thanks to new technologies and a more user-friendly attitude in Washington. The first step could happen this month, as the White House plans to provide electronic "briefing rooms" as part of its home page on the World Wide Web [http://www.white]. The briefing rooms will give customers key economic and social statistics, along with an instant link to other government agencies.

    The briefing rooms are a small part of a big change in the way the government distributes statistics. Last November, the heads of major statistical agencies formed a task force to explore and idea they call "one-stop shopping." "The idea is to provide easy access to all federal statistics from one central point," says Alan Tupek of the National Science Foundation, who chairs the task force. The appeal is that people who want statistics will no longer have to dig through the bureaucracy to get the numbers they want. "You don't need to know how Ford is organized when you're buying a Taurus," says a senior administration official who worked on the project. "Why should you learn how the government is organized when all you want is information?"

    A preliminary version of the economic briefing room contains the latest federal statistics on such subjects as economic output, employment, production, prices, and money. Each statistic has an instant link to the home page of the agency that produced it. "We're not going to hold on to the numbers ourselves," says the official. "We're creating a gateway to the individual agencies."

    Tupek's task force is working on an index to federal databases, as well as a "table of contents" that will organize the sources of data according to subject. The task force is also encouraging agencies to improve their information about how data are compiled, what they describe, and how they relate to other data. Customers without Internet access will probably not see these indexes themselves, but they will benefit from them whenever they call the Federal Information Center at (800) 688-9889. The task force's goal is to recommend to the Office of Management and Budget a way to set up one-stop shopping for all federal statistics.

    The one-stop task force is a good first step. But too many federal statistics are still published a year or more after they are gathered because of inefficient production methods and snail-paced review procedures. We can only hope that the speed and coordination no being applied to the delivery of federal statistics places a burr in the hide of the production staff. They need to speed up, too. For more information about the task force, contact Tupek at (703) 306-1780 or e-mail him at

    Editorial from American Demographics (April 1996, p.2) reprinted by permission of Matt Klein, Assistant Managing Editor.

    (10) Census Bureau Marketing
    Electronic Subscription Service;
    May Provide Service to Depository Libraries

    Special thanks to Arlene Weible of Willamette University for spotting the following note and sharing with the depository community:

    "As part of the Census Bureau's stepped-up efforts to dramatically expand your access to official social, demographic and economic information, we [the Census Bureau] plan to increase electronic dissemination of our data. To this end we are previewing our new Electronic Subscription Service. Member's Entrance and Test Drive are free links to the entire subscription area during this preview period. After you have taken a "test drive" of the site, please take a few minutes to go to Visitor's Comments to tell us what you think of this new service.

    The Internet, along with other electronic delivery systems, will gradually become the primary sources for Census Bureau statistics. The Bureau already has discontinued some printed reports and is shifting to this new data dissemination medium by making Adobe(TM) Acrobat(TM) versions available online.

    At this time, you will be able to preview a sample of the Official Published Statistics of the U.S. Census Bureau. The official statistics provide a fixed reference to tabulated data on the economy and population. They provide some of the most frequently needed summaries and give a point of comparison for results of your online data extraction.

    Over time, we plan to develop for you a three tier subscription service as follows:

    Our Tier 1 service is free during this preview period. It will become a fee-based subscription service in July 1996. A single-user unlimited access license will cost $50 per quarter and $150 for a year. Multi-user unlimited access accounts for up to 200 simultaneous users will be available for $500 a year. Memberships for multi-user accounts serving more than 200 simultaneous users within a single organization will cost $1,500 annually. Commercial Online Internet service providers should send requests for a quote to Sign-up information will be provided at this location in the near future.

    Don't forget to tell us what you think about this service in the Visitor's Comments. To view the contents of our new Electronic Subscription Service, let's take a Test Drive. E-mail us at if you have any questions about this new service."

    Robin L. Haun-Mohamed reports that the Census Bureau contacted the Superintendent of Documents about providing access for the Federal Depository Libraries at no charge to the libraries. "We are still working on the arrangements and it looks very promising, with more than one user able to access the database at a time. Census held a series of discussion groups last fall concerning user needs and expectations for their online database. It is very clear they heard the concerns as presented by the representatives from the depository community. Library Programs Service will advise the libraries of the steps necessary to be able to access this service at no charge when the details have been worked out."

    Sources : Arlene Weible, Willamette University, GOVDOC-L, May 2, 1996; Robin L. Haun-Mohamed, Library Programs Service (SLLA), U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20401; E-mail :; Telephone : (202) 512-1071; Fax : (202) 512-1636; GOVDOC-L, May 5, 1996.

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