NEWS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY:
DECEMBER 1996

Table of Contents

  1. Rep. Thomas Proposes Drastic Changes
  2. GPO Proposes Changes to Depository Library Law
  3. Congressional Reform Briefings
  4. U.S. Government Puts Thousands of Supreme Court Decisions Online
  5. CIA Disconnects Home Page After Being Hacked
  6. Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996
  7. It Pays to Notify GPO About Fugitive Titles
  8. UNHCR To Launch New Internet Presence
  9. Free Telecommunications Connections for Every Library
  10. Toll-Free GPO Access Customer Support Phone Number
  11. Fall 1996 DLC Meeting Summary by Julia F. Wallace
  12. Fall 1996 DLC Meeting Summary by Susan Tulis


(1) Rep. Thomas Proposes Drastic Changes to the
Federal Depository Library Program--Comments Needed

On September 28 House Oversight Committee chair Bill Thomas (R-CA) introduced H.R. 4280, the Government Printing Reform Act of 1996. The bill is a major revision of the sections of Title 44, United States Code, applying to government printing, procurement, dissemination of government publications, and the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). The bill would also replace the Joint Committees on Printing and the Library with a Joint Committee on Information.

ALA and the Government Documents Round Table are evaluating the 68-page bill for its potential impact on the FDLP and public access to government information. To understand the changes that would be made to the law, it is essential to compare the language of the bill with current law. It also would be wise to compare it to draft legislation the Government Printing Office sent to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration (available at depository libraries in the Administrative Notes dated August 30, 1996).

Title V of H.R. 4280 would make drastic changes to Chapter 19, the law that governs the FDLP partnership that has provided no-fee public access to government information through a nationwide system of nearly 1400 libraries. Other provisions in the bill would affect distribution of publications, including the U. S. Congressional Serial Set, to depository libraries.

This bill is the latest of several proposed legislative revisions of the Federal Depository Library Program arising in Congress and elsewhere. In addition to the recent proposal GPO gave to the Senate, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget sent Congress proposed legislation titled "The Electronic Depository Library Act of 1996." Neither proposal has been introduced as a bill to be considered by Congress.

Highlights of the proposed H.R. 4280 would:

To find H.R. 4280, the Government Printing Reform Act of 1996 on the Web, connect to either GPO Access http://www.gpo.gov/ or Thomas http://thomas.loc.gov/. For example, using the GPO gate at the University of California, San Diego, http://www.gpo.ucop.edu/search/cbill.html; Search Congressional Bills 103-104; type H.R. 4280 in the full-text box, then click Run Search. Users without an Internet connection can go to one of the approximately 650 depository libraries offering public access workstations able to connect to GPO Access.

COMMENTS NEEDED: Continuing a strong and enhanced Federal Depository Library Program into the 21st Century is an important priority of ALA. To help achieve that goal and respond to legislative challenges, ALA is soliciting suggestions, comments, criticisms, etc., about the provisions of H.R. 4280 and also other related issues involving the Depository Library Program that might need to be addressed. Please send your comments to Anne Heanue e-mail aah@alawash.org by Friday, November 15.

Additionally, before Congress reconvenes in January 1997, invite Senators and Representatives to visit your depository library. Help them understand the tremendously valuable service--public access to a multi format government information collection--federal depository librarians provide to constituents.

Source : ALAWON, Vol. 5, No. 76, October 15, 1996.


(2) GPO Proposes Changes to Depository Library Law

On August 22 the Government Printing Office (GPO) sent proposed changes in the law governing the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) to Senator John Warner (R-VA), chair of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. Public Printer Michael DiMario said the proposed changes would "facilitate the transition to a more electronic FDLP."

The full text of the proposed changes to Chapters 17 and 19 of Title 44, United States Code can be found on GPO's Web site: http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/dpos/aspecial.html.

Highlights of the proposed changes include:

Source : ALAWON, Vol. 5, No. 55, September 6, 1996.


(3) Congressional Reform Briefings

Many readers have requested an update regarding the status of efforts to expand Internet access to Congressional documents during the 104th Congress.

The status is this: we lost.

The 104th Congress did not approve any law or House or Senate rule to provide the public with Internet access to any Congressional document. Currently, many important Congressional documents are not available via the Internet, including committee prints of bills, Congressional hearing records, texts of legislative amendments, and Congressional Research Service reports.

The 104th Congress did launch a new online service, THOMAS, in January 1995. This useful service, however, mostly repackaged materials previously available on the Internet for free through GPO Access. Since February, 1995, there has been little progress.

On Monday, The Washington Post wrote of "the bog-down that has afflicted a proposal that goes more directly to governmental, and specifically congressional, openness. Both houses have been showing reluctance to move forward on a proposed rules change that would make the public work of congressional committees available in cyberspace on the same day that it unfolds on the Hill itself, thus making it unnecessary to be physically in the room during a hearing or public markup of a bill -- or, more likely, hire a lobbyist to be there for you. Committee chairs have balked at the range of materials they are being pressured to release....The jury's still out on whether electronic archives will prove the best, the most accessible or the most durable way to store government records for the long haul. But for short-term communications that mirror the actual pace of legislating and lobbying, the Internet is ideal for the kind of engaged citizenship that all lawmakers supposedly want. In this case they ought to act as if they do." (Editorial, Washington Post, September 30, 1996).

The next round of efforts to expand online access to Congressional documents will center around whether the House of Representatives will adopt new rules at the beginning of the 105th Congress to provide Internet access to Congressional documents not yet available on the Internet, such as:

In November, House Republicans and Democrats will each prepare draft rules for the House of Representatives for the 105th Congress. If we can convince at least one, or hopefully both, political parties to endorse rules to expand Internet access to Congressional documents, then these rules may be enacted during the first day of the 105th Congress.

You can help by urging your Congressional candidates to promise that they will fight hard for incorporating expanded online access to Congressional documents in the House Rules for the 105th Congress.

On a more upbeat note, many good sources of Congressional information currently exist on the Internet. Following are some of the highlights:

  1. GPO Access
    http://www.access.gpo.gov/
    Best single official source for federal government and Congressional information maintained by the U.S. Government Printing Office.

  2. THOMAS.
    http://thomas.loc.gov/
    Useful official Congressional source from the Library of Congress.

  3. Library of Congress U.S. Legislative Branch web page
    http://lcweb.loc.gov/global/legislative/congress.html#legbranch
    Collection of legislative branch materials.

  4. House of Representatives home page
    http://www.house.gov/

  5. Senate Web server
    http://www.senate.gov/

  6. FECInfo
    http://www.tray.com/fecinfo/
    Best source of federal campaign finance data.

  7. Roll Call Online
    http://www.rollcall.com/
    Online version of the best insider source on the Congress.

  8. Vote Smart Web
    http://www.vote-smart.org/
    Excellent collection of materials about the Congress and the federal government maintained by Project Vote Smart.

  9. Center for Responsive Politics
    http://www.crp.org/
    Site includes an abundance of useful data about financing of Congressional elections.

  10. CQ's American Voter 96
    http://voter96.cqalert.com/
    Much useful Congressional material from Congressional Quarterly.

  11. Politics Now
    http://www.politicsnow.com/
    Online versions of reportage from many mainstream outlets.

  12. FEC official site
    http://www.fec.gov/
    Official Federal Elections Commission site.

  13. Charlotte's WWWeb
    http://www.emf.net/~cr/homepage.html
    Government reform materials collected by Char Roberts.

    Following are recommended sources about access to federal government information via the Internet:

  14. Taxpayer Assets Project (TAP)
    http://www.essential.org/tap/
    TAP produces excellent materials on public access to government information. TAP also distributes briefings on a listserve.

  15. GovAccess
    gopher://path.net:8102/
    Jim Warren produces excellent notes about access to government information and other matters.

  16. Hotwired
    http://www.muckraker.com/muckraker/archive/
    http://www.netizen.com/netizen/archive/
    Washington DC Hotwired columnist Brock Meeks has written many thoughtful columns about government information and the Internet.

  17. The Hill on the Net
    http://policy.net/capweb/casey/hill/
    Senate staffer Chris Casey distributes a newsletter about online developments on Capitol Hill.

  18. NetAction
    http://www.netaction.org
    Audrie Krause prepares useful briefings called NetAction Notes about access to government information andother matters.

Congressional Reform Briefings are prepared by the Congressional Accountability Project, which is a Ralph Nader Congressional reform group. For more information about Congressional reform, send e-mail to gary@essential.org or call (202) 296-2787.

To subscribe to Congressional Reform Briefings send the message: subscribe CONG-REFORM your name to listproc@essential.org

Source : Gary Ruskin, Congressional Accountability Project, October 4, 1996; GOVDOC-L, October 9, 1996


(4) U.S. Government Puts Thousands of Supreme Court Decisions Online

The Clinton Administration last week agreed to post thousands of U.S. Supreme Court decisions on the World-Wide Web.

At the Taxpayer Assets Project, a group affiliated with the consumer advocate Ralph Nader, activists claimed victory. The project had pressed the government for years to make its digital copies of the decisions available free.

The government had denied the requests, most recently arguing that the data base was for internal "library use" and was therefore not covered by the Freedom of Information Act, which mandates the release of executive-branch documents that are not deemed critical to national security and that do not violate a variety of privacy-related rights. Critics suggested that the government's reluctance to offer the documents on the Internet benefited private companies that, for a fee, have been supplying the materials to law firms and other users for years.

But last week the government changed its tune, posting every Supreme Court decision handed down between 1937 and 1975 -- 7,407 of them -- on FedWorld, a searchable Web site [ http://www.fedworld.gov/supcourt/index.htm].

The electronic documents were part of a data base maintained by the Air Force and called FLITE, or Federal Legal Information Through Electronics. FLITE has been around since 1963, making it one of the government's earliest efforts to digitize official documents.

"The Air Force has agreed as a matter of discretion to release these materials," said Sally Katzen, an administrator in the Office of Management and Budget, in a statement.

James Love, the director of the Taxpayer Assets Project, offered his congratulations to the Clinton Administration for putting the decisions on the Web, but he complained that "it took a hell of a long time to get this done." He said his group first asked for access to the data base in 1991.

The Supreme Court has made its rulings available electronically since 1990, but digital copies of older decisions are accessible only through FLITE or through commercial services, such as WESTLAW and LEXIS.

Mr. Love says the improved access will "subject the judiciary to greater public scrutiny," and therefore "make the judiciary more accountable."

Mr. Love called the release of the documents only a partial victory, however. He would like to see all Supreme Court decisions posted freely on the Web -- including those issued from 1975 to 1990, which are still unavailable.

--Jeffrey R. Young, Academe Today, October 1, 1996.


(5) CIA Disconnects Home Page After Being Hacked

The CIA web site (http://www.odci.gov/cia) was penetrated by a group of Swedish hackers on September 18, 1996, causing the CIA to pull the plug the following day. The altered home page said, "Welcome to the Central Stupidity Agency." It also had valid links to Playboy and hacker netsites, and fictional links to a "news from space'' and "nude girls''.

Apparently, the Swedish intruders were protesting a Swedish court case against a group of youths who were caught breaking into computers in 1991.

The CIA is presumably restoring its earlier web pages, which included spy-agency press releases, speeches, and other publically available data, including CIA's World Fact Book -- all of course unclassified.

[In case you won't to take a peak at what the CIA found on the morning of September 19, the altered web-site content is available at http://www.skeeve.net/cia, at least for the time being.]

On the same day as the CIA shut its home page down, the Justice Department reopened its home page (http://www.uswdoj.gov/), which had been hacked into the "Department of Injustice" in August. [Source: *San Francisco Chronicle*, 20 Sep 1996, A12]

Source : "Peter G. Neumann" , September 23, 1996; via TXDCN-L, October 2, 1996.


(6) Electronic Freedom of Information Act
Amendments of 1996
Statement by the President

I am pleased to sign into law today H.R. 3802, the "Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996."

This bill represents the culmination of several years of leadership by Senator Patrick Leahy to bring this important law up to date. Enacted in 1966, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was the first law to establish an effective legal right of access to government information, underscoring the crucial need in a democracy for open access to government information by citizens. In the last 30 years, citizens, scholars, and reporters have used FOIA to obtain vital and valuable government information.

Since 1966, the world has changed a great deal. Records are no longer principally maintained in paper format. Now, they are maintained in a variety of technologies, including CD ROM and computer tapes and diskettes, making it easier to put more information on-line.

My Administration has launched numerous initiatives to bring more government information to the public. We have established World Wide Web pages, which identify and link information resources throughout the Federal Government. An enormous range of documents and data, including the Federal budget, is now available on-line or in electronic format, making government more accessible than ever. And in the last year, we have declassified unprecedented amounts of national security material, including information on nuclear testing.

The legislation I sign today brings FOIA into the information and electronic age by clarifying that it applies to records maintained in electronic format. This law also broadens public access to government information by placing more material on-line and expanding the role of the agency reading room. As the Government actively disseminates more information, I hope that there will be less need to use FOIA to obtain government information.

This legislation not only affirms the importance, but also the challenge of maintaining openness in government. In a period of government downsizing, the numbers of requests continue to rise. In addition, growing numbers of requests are for information that must be reviewed for declassification, or in which there is a proprietary interest or a privacy concern. The result in many agencies is huge backlogs of requests.

In this Act, the Congress recognized that with today's limited resources, it is frequently difficult to respond to a FOIA request within the 10 days formerly required in the law. This legislation extends the legal response period to 20 days.

More importantly, it recognizes that many FOIA requests are so broad and complex that they cannot possibly be completed even within this longer period, and the time spent processing them only delays other requests. Accordingly, H.R. 3802 establishes procedures for an agency to discuss with requesters ways of tailoring large requests to improve responsiveness. This approach explicitly recognizes that FOIA works best when agencies and requesters work together.

Our country was founded on democratic principles of openness and accountability, and for 30 years, FOIA has supported these principles. Today, the "Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996" reforges an important link between the United States Government and the American people.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, THE WHITE HOUSE, October 2, 1996.

Source : M. Waterstone, TAXDXN-L, October 2, 1996.


(7) It Pays to Notify GPO About Fugitive Titles

Have you discovered a title not in the depository program? Don't despair. Contact Robin Haun-Mohamed at LPS. Robin reports that "Big Emerging Markets" and "Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990" have entered the depository program as a result of vigilant documents librarians. He is also pleased to convey the news that "Hispanics-Latinos; Diverse People in a Multicultural Society", Current Population Reports, 1995, will also be distributed to the libraries later this fall. Source : Robin Haun-Mohamed, GOVDOC-L, October 4, 1996.


(8) UNHCR To Launch New Internet Presence

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced today the launch of a new Internet site to focus world opinion on refugees. The new UNHCR World Wide Web site, located at http://www.unhcr.ch, will feature a comprehensive look at the agency's existing documentation for the general public, along with texts outlining refugee issues in 90 countries, and a legal information database drawn from the REFWORLD CD-ROM that is already produced by the agency.

"I am delighted that we can present this new resource," said High Commissioner Sadako Ogata. "I think it will prove to be not just a very valuable research tool but also an intriguing new look at some old and difficult issues. I think we'll be seeing this site consulted by school-children as well as university students and people involved in refugee programs. This diversity is very important to me. It's vital that we get the message out as widely as possible: refugees are not a threat, they are simply ordinary people in need of protection."

The launch of UNHCR's new Web site has been timed to coincide with the launch of a ground-breaking companion Web site that focuses on displaced people in Bosnia. WITNESS (located at http://www.worldmedia.fr/witness) has been co-produced by UNHCR and a French Internet company, WorldMedia Live. The site features panoramic virtual-reality photographs which provide a startlingly vivid look at life in Bosnia, and which are virtually unique on the Internet.

UNHCR welcomes links with its Web site and quotations of any information regarding refugee issues. However, UNHCR discourages extensive reproduction on other Internet sites of information produced by the agency."

Many thanks for updating your link(s) to reflect the new URL.

Best regards,

webmaster@unhcr.ch

Source : Susin Park, October 3, 1996.


(9) Clinton Administration Calls for Free Basic Telecommunications
Connections to Every Library and K-12 School in the Country

The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture filed a proposed E-rate (education rate) plan with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Joint Board on Universal Service yesterday. The proposed E-rate would guarantee universal service to telecommunications and information services for every library and school in the country. President Clinton and Vice President Gore announced the E-rate during an event focusing on education and technology in Knoxville, TN.

ALA continues to analyze the filing and other documents. There appears to be considerable common ground with the Administration, and it is encouraging to see that a number of provisions of the ALA and EdLiNC filings have been incorporated into the Administrations conceptual framework. So long as this framework provides in total the same significant and meaningful discounts equivalent to or exceeding the ALA/EdLiNC recommendations, the Administration is headed in the right direction.

In any regulatory proceeding such as the implementation of discounted rates for libraries and schools, the details are very important. Many details are not spelled out in the Administration's universal service proposal. The goal is the right one--universal access for every library and school to the information superhighway. The Administration plan will be a major factor in further developments on this provision of the Telecommunications Act by regulators. ALA looks forward to continuing its own intensive efforts on this issue, and to working further with the Administration and other key players for meaningful implementation of discounted rates.

NTIA's filing was made in response to the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the matter of the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service (CC Docket No. 96-45).

According to the Commerce Department's October 10 press release, the Administration's E-rate plan is flexible, market-based, technology neutral, invites competition, and reflects the changing needs of libraries and schools. It is a two-tiered approach.

The first tier proposes a basic package of services to be made available to all schools and libraries at no cost to them. Telecommunications service providers would be reimbursed from the industry's universal support system up to the best available commercial rate or "cost plus" rate. The basic package contains Internet access and sufficient bandwidth to support educational needs, and brings that connection into the school or library.

The second tier proposes a bidding process that would allow schools and libraries to purchase additional service at deeply discounted rates--the ceiling for these bids would be the best commercially available rates in that region or state. Inside wiring, or networking, is included. The plan also provides additional discounts for low-income and high-cost areas, which are often rural, to have access to these services.

NTIA's filing addressing the E-Rate proposal can be found at . For a copy of the remarks made by the President and the Vice President, select http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/html/briefroom.html then "This week's press briefings;" October 10, 1996.

More information about the ALA filings on the universal service proceeding can be found at http://www.ala.org/oitp/univserv.html. Information about Education and Libraries Networks Coalition (EdLiNC)can be found at http://www.itc.org/edlinc/.


(10) Toll-Free GPO Access Customer Support Phone Number

Now, you can get immediate GPO Access User Support for free by calling the GPO Access toll-free telephone number at: 1-888-293-6498.

The GPO Access User Support Team is available from 7 a.m.to 5 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday (except Federal holidays) and can help you with all GPO Access products and services including:

Please Note: This number is for GPO Access products and services only.

Source : Terri Barnes, GOVDOC-L, October 16, 1996.


(11) Fall 1996 DLC Meeting Notes by Julia Wallace

Be sure to try the brand new Publications Reference File on GPO ACCESS. We have been urging GPO to put that up for years, and they have finally done it. Here is the full URL, http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/sale/prf/prf.html, or find it on the brand new SuDocs page.

While there, see if you think the new SuDocs page is any easier to use. I think it is better but still needs improvement. Comment to them if you have thoughts.

Spend some time with the Pathways options, even though they are not quite so easily grouped on this new page. They are the first five things listed under "Locate Government Information Products". These browse and search features are improving all the time, and they do want continuing input from depositories. Those of you inspected by Joe Paskoski will be interested to know he does much of this work...

The new CFR will be one of the most popular parts of GPO ACCESS, though it won't be complete for about a year. Try it out.

The next AdNotes will have a request form for local GPO training. All requests for 1997 must be in by Jan. 1. We have talked about this many times in Minnesota, but haven't made official request yet. Training was a major issue at MLA. We do need to coordinate. (South Dakota had a training visit last year). I have one piece of information which may affect how we do this: GPO plans a national meeting of Regional Librarians in August, and they plan to have it in Minneapolis. So if they are sending a GPO ACCESS crew on the road for that anyway, I think they would stay a day or two to do training here. For many people, August is vacation but also is not as busy with other commitments like MLA. We would need a real commitment for a large audience, but if we request training at the same time as that conference we have a pretty good chance. They are limited to 12 training trips in 1997.

GPO is working with two depositories to get shipping lists on the GPO bulletin board within two days of issuance. Should be handy.

GPO is working on getting copies of the user manual for the USAPAT CD, and will print for depositories. That CD came to GPO before they could survey for it, so they sent it out - will survey.

Sad to say, production of the FIRMR/FAR CD has been moved from GPO to NTIS, but there is assurance that GSA and NTIS will supply the depository copies.

Julia F. Wallace, Head, Government Publications Library, Wilson Library, 309 - 19th Avenue South, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455; Phone: (612) 626-7520; FAX: (612) 626-9353; E-Mail: j-wall@tc.umn.edu; The MINNDOCS Mailing List, October 25, 1996.


(12) "This is the place" - Salt Lake City, UT
Fall 1996 Depository Library Council Meeting Summary

After the usual welcome and introductions by Depository Library Council (DLC) Chair Jan Fryer, Public Printer Michael DiMario presented opening remarks. He stressed that depository librarians are the service providers and are in the best position to know what kinds of government information people are interested in and the formats they want it in. DiMario's goal in speaking was to draw attention to the various proposals under consideration for the future of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), encourage attendees to look at them, and urge us to give our candid opinions on them - not just to GPO, but to the Congressional committees considering them as well as our congressmen. It is clear that we are facing change that could be potentially great. DiMario asked if we thought that this is the direction the FDLP should be going?

The proposals that DiMario mentioned were the 5-7 year transition framework outlined in the GPO Study, Rep. Thomas' bill H.R. 4280 - "Government Printing Reform Act of 1996," a possible Senate bill, the reissuance of former OMB Director Panetta's letter (which directs executive branch agencies to use GPO services for a period of one year, during which time the executive branch and Congress will examine various printing laws with a view towards creating a new printing law), and a draft OMB bill.

Superintendent of Documents Wayne Kelley detailed recent staff shifts within the Government Printing Office (GPO). Jay Young will be spending more time on GPO Sales. Gil Baldwin will be handling the day-to-day operations of the Library Programs Service (LPS). Judy Russell has left the Office of Electronic Information Dissemination Services (OEIDS). T.C. Evans will be taking responsibility of GPO Access. Ric Davis will move to OEIDS to assist on GPO Access. Duncan Aldrich will take charge of the Electronic Transition Staff. Sandy Schwalb has joined ETS and is working on alliances and partnerships. Lee Morey is working on Pathway Services.

Kelley went on to talk about the new Chief Information Officer (CIO) positions mandated for each executive branch agency by the 1996 Information Technology Management Performance Act. In the coming months, these CIOs will be dealing with 2 issues: 1) the year 2000 problem, and 2) establishing a performance based system for focusing and managing information technology. Kelley was curious as to who's worried about the integrity, storage, retrieval and preservation of government information. An OMB official indicated that this would be the responsibility of the CIOs but hinted that this wouldn't happen unless there were active groups bringing it to the CIOs attention.

Kelley warned the group about becoming susceptible to "technomania" - the state of rapture in which self-induced visions of miraculous results blinds one to the downsides of reality. The Internet will do wonderful things, but it is not the solution. It may make more information available, but it can make it tougher to find the information you need. It can save the government money, but it can also transfer that cost to your library or patron. It can deliver that information in an instant or it can keep you online for hours.

T.C. Evans highlighted some of the new and exciting things taken place in OEIDS. A redesigned SuDocs home page was rolled out October 18th incorporating many of the suggestions designed to improve it. A toll free number (1-888-293-6498) for GPO Access User Support has been established. Three Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) volumes are now available on GPO Access with others to be added as produced. GPO has formed a strategic alliance with Commerce which has GPO taking over the daily operation of the Commerce Business Daily (CBD) on Jan 1, 1997. The Publications Reference File appeared on the SuDocs home page Oct 18. GPO Access was awarded the best government site for people in the legal community by the Legal Online Group. In addition, the strategic alliance for the CBD was given a Federal Leadership Award. Phase II of GPO Access will utilize OpenText retrieval software thereby providing a high level of conformity, allowing for links between related data products, bookmarking, an on-line tutorial, and new search capabilities (i.e. proximity searching in either direction, control of sorting of results, thesaurus, save search strategies, history of searches). It is expected that the first application to be brought up under OpenText will be the CBD, since the CBD is the first fully functional SGML database.

1996 will be remembered for the intensive review and planning for the future of the FDLP which took place in the context of the "Study to Identify Measures Necessary for a Successful Transition to a More Electronic Federal Depository Library Program." Gil Baldwin, LPS, talked about the strides made by LPS toward incorporating electronic government information products into the FDLP. Some highlights for FY 1996 include:

In response to questions concerning how GPO will treat the workstation recommendations and the related requirement to provide public access to electronic Government information products, Baldwin stated that during a depository inspection the capability to offer public access to government information products disseminated via the Internet will be considered in the context of Physical Facilities, along with other matters such as adequate space, shelving, microfiche storage, and so forth. LPS will use a functional approach to determine compliance with the public access requirement. The LPS 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, and LPS expects to see, and welcomes, a lot of creative solutions.

Four major areas for LPS electronic transition activities have been identified:

  1. acquiring content for the FDLP;
  2. ensuring permanent access to official and authentic information;
  3. enhancing cataloging and locator services; and
  4. providing support services to depository libraries.
Baldwin talked about two content-related issues to illustrate some of the issues encountered in the electronic FDLP. The first is STAT-USA. After extensive review, LPS has decided to continue the present arrangement which allows only single-user access to the STAT-USA Internet service and NTDB at no cost to depository libraries. LPS chose this route so that it could continue to distribute some 74 paper and microfiche products which also appear on the NTDB or the Internet service (e.g. Army Area Handbooks, the State Department Dispatch, and Commerce's Foreign Labor Trends, Business America, and Global Trade Outlook.) If your library requires additional access to the NTDB beyond the single-workstation level, you will have to purchase it from STAT-USA. STAT-USA has agreed to continue the "special, low-cost networking licenses" to depositories for multiple-user access to the NTDB through December 31, 1996. For up to 5 simultaneous NTDB users, the annual cost is $500; for up to 15 users the cost is $1,000.

The other content-related issue concerns the bound Serial Set. Congress directed GPO to produce a CD-ROM Serial Set (beginning with the 105th Congress) and to limit the distribution of the hard copy paper Serial Set to regionals and one library in each State without a regional. [Note: bound volumes will continue to be distributed to all current selecting libraries until the 104th Congress is finished.] GPO will also investigate offering the bound Serial Set for sale. Distribution of slip Reports and Documents in paper and/or microfiche will continue.

Baldwin concluded by saying that they are moving forward on a number of fronts in the transition process and, as you might expect, progress is not equal across the board. Some of the issues are difficult, and new projects have a way of surfacing overnight. But on the whole, they are incorporating electronic information into the FDLP in ways that make sense. LPS is open to hearing your suggestions and input on how LPS can improve its services to us.

Tad Downing, Cataloging Branch Chief, discussed three topics. The first was dissemination activities associated with the Monthly Catalog (MOCAT). As of October, 4 issues of the MOCAT CD-ROM edition have been published. Significant changes to this product will not happen without a major upgrade to Dataware Technologies search software. Early next year, the first multi-year edition will be published covering Jan 1996 through Jan 1997. Editions published during 1997 will include Periodical Supplements for 1996 and 1997. The suggestion to produce a retrospective CD-ROM MOCAT for the years 1976 through 1995 was considered but rejected. The time, effort, and costs associated with data conversion, enhancements to older records, and product development would divert limited resources already fully occupied with current work. The Web site MOCAT will either locate physical materials on the shelf through the "Locate Function" or provide access through "hot links" to online electronic texts. MOCAT records are available at the Web site within two days after production in OCLC. GPO intends to build this database until it represents 5 years of cataloging data. At present, approximately 75,388 records are available for searching at the GPO Web site. Of the total Web site records, approximately 360 records represent CD-ROM products and approximately 353 records contain hot linked URLs.

With regard to Cataloging Branch Operations, Downing stated that during the past year several catalogers have retired or transferred, receipts have declined, and CONSER related work has declined (since June 1996). As of October 18th, the estimated backlog was approximately 1,595 titles - with approximately 40 titles representing CD-ROM products, and at least 382 titles representing remotely accessible Internet titles. It is important to keep in mind that many of the 382 Internet titles are collective titles that represent additional electronic works to be cataloged.

Downing concluded by describing the status of URLs in MOCAT records and by noting several initiatives to improve their maintenance. GPO recognizes that not all of the approximately 353 MOCAT records with URLs are hot linked. Any one of the following factors may account for access problems:

  1. Information relating to the URL was incorrect.
  2. Correct URL information was incorrectly transcribed.
  3. Correct URL information was correctly transcribed but software at our site or other sites may have altered data and rendered the URL ineffective.
  4. Everything about a URL and site software is correct but the server was down or peak usage time would temporarily not permit a connection.
  5. The URL was changed after a MOCAT record was produced and we were not notified.
  6. The agency deleted the product from its Web site.
These problems are not going to be eliminated soon, but the combined efforts of Depository Administration and Cataloging Branch personnel help to minimize the first two of these six problems. Problem 3, relates to internal software associated with GPO's web site. At present, software at their site drops one or two elements from long URL data strings. GPO is working to correct this problem. For now, if you discover that a record with a very long data string is not hot linked from the Web site MOCAT, obtain the correct URL from the OCLC record and open the URL by other than GPO's Web site. Problem 4, time out problems at agency servers, will require our continued patience. Problem 5, changed URLs, and problem 6, deletion of electronic publications from agency websites, are significant problems and require concerted long range efforts to remedy. Presently, personnel of GPO's Graphic Systems Development Division are providing ad hoc support for occasional checking of URLs in MOCAT records. Using a proactive long range approach, Electronic Transition Staff expect to acquire PURL (Persistent Uniform Resource Locators) software and have created an electronic form with PURL applications for use among Federal publishers. PURLs allow servers to associate a changed URL at a publisher's site with a persistent URL for access at that or other sites. PURL software checks URLs, is transparent to users, and will eliminate the need for GPO to change URLs in MOCAT records.

Robin Haun-Mohamed, Depository Administration Branch (DAB) Chief, talked about the various activities DAB staff have been involved in during the past six months. Activities include agency visits to discuss electronic products; attendance at meetings such as the recent Webmasters conference; and developing a Web form for agencies to use to advise GPO when products or sites are changed. Additional resources have been included on the Browse Electronic Titles page on Pathway Services, specifically a category entitled "Other Resources" which includes database sites that are not really a title or product, but a service (e.g. FLITE database of Supreme Court cases). Three projects DAB is currently working on are shipping lists in an electronic format, development of a survey mechanism via the Web and an electronic item number listing for each library available via the Web. DAB plans to have regular postings of paper, electronic and separates shipping list information in a DBF format on the Federal Bulletin Board by the end of this year. It is hoped that this will be expanded to include the contractor distributed microfiche products and shipping lists down the road. In addition, DAB hopes to develop a partnership with the University of Buffalo (SUNY) and the University of Texas, Arlington to improve electronic access for the shipping lists. DAB has developed a "Green Card" online and anticipates that the next time a survey is done the responses will be via the Web. The third project will allow libraries to see their item number profile on the Web site and pull down that information in an electronic format, thereby eliminating the need to send out item number printouts to each library.

Haun-Mohamed discussed some of the new CD-ROM products in the Program. The SSA on CD-ROM was distributed to libraries in August 1996. USAPAT came into GPO before the survey could be done, thus many libraries got shipments before they deselected the item number. LPS is obtaining a copy of the users manual and will reprint it at GPO's expense for distribution to those libraries selecting USAPAT. FBIS on CD-ROM will be distributed to libraries this fall. Current plans for NTIS's "OrderNow" CD-ROM (replacement for the GRA&I) do not include depository distribution. LPS is talking to NTIS to find a way to have this product included in the FDLP. After numerous discussions, it appears that the GSA FAR/FIRMR CD-ROM (produced by NTIS) will be distributed to depository libraries. Robin reminded everyone that beginning Feb 1997 only the Windows version of the NTDB will be available. The Census Bureau's Subscription Service is still available at no charge to all via the Web site, but will convert to a charge service in Jan 1997. Census intends to provide access to depository libraries at no charge to the library. LPS is pursuing discussions with the Federal Election Commission for access to their fee-based online database. While some of the FEC information is available free on their Web site, not all of it is.

Robin concluded her remarks with an update on some of the traditional DAB services. Because of delays in the Bindery, the bound Serial Set and Congressional Record are still running behind. The last volumes of the bound Congressional Record distributed to the libraries were the Indices for the 101st Congress, second session on shipping list 96-0044-S. The bound Congressional Record will continue to be distributed to Regional Libraries and one library in each state for those without a regional through the 104th Congress. Beginning with the 105th Congress, GPO has been directed to produce and distribute a CD-ROM product for the material in the bound Congressional Record. For the foreseeable future, GPO will continue distribution of the microfiche version of the bound Congressional Record. Work continues on the backlog of titles to convert from paper to microfiche. Problems with the full-service microfiche contractors are further delaying the conversion of documents from paper to microfiche. Be advised that LPS is working on the claims for materials distributed by Information Resources, Inc., and the default of contract 823-S (bound Congressional Record in microfiche) and several of the last print orders under contract 562 (Senate and House Committee Prints, Reports, and Documents). LPS hopes to have this material to the libraries by the end of the year. DAB staff have begun implementing conversion of titles from microfiche to electronic format. They are beginning with materials sent for microfiche conversion and/or duplicated on CD-ROMs, such as telephone directories and newsletters that are available in an electronic online format. Lastly, DAB staff continue to receive inquiries on fugitive documents. If the fugitive document is available online, then DAB will point to it from the "Browse Electronic Titles" page. For those titles that have been part of the FDLP in the past, or that look like they would meet hot topic requests for specific subjects, or that look like they would meet reference needs, DAB will contact the agency to determine if the agency has sufficient paper copies for depository distribution to the libraries. For fugitives which are dated, or which have traditionally been converted to a microfiche format, or for which the agency does not have sufficient copies, the entry point into the FDLP is via the "Browse Electronic Titles" page and cataloging into MOCAT for the online format.

Duncan Aldrich, Electronic Transition Staff, spoke about his work on the transition task associated with providing permanent access to electronic FDLP information products. This task involves 3 general categories. First, interagency relations with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) have to be established to identify where GPO efforts to provide permanent access to electronic government information products complement, supplement, or overlap with NARA efforts to preserve electronic information. It is hoped that a joint GPO/NARA work group will be established this fall to focus on the following issues:

  1. clarification of how GPO and NARA define the terms permanent access to and preservation of electronic government information products;
  2. discussion of the requirements which GPO and NARA place upon federal agencies, toward the end of minimizing the differences in those requirements;
  3. assessment of electronic information format standards used by federal agencies in the production of agency records and information products;
  4. assessment of how GPO might partner with NARA on preservation and access issues related to electronic government information products in GPO's custody.
The second category is the establishment of criteria with which to identify which government information resources produced in electronic formats actually qualify for permanent access through the FDLP. Not an easy task, especially when discussions turn to questions like, are agency Web sites in fact agency information productions?

The final category pertains to the creation of a distributed partnership involving the GPO, Federal agencies, and the FDLP libraries to provide access to electronic FDLP information products that are on the Internet. A draft model Memorandum of Understanding which outlines the responsibilities GPO and its partners will have as they enter into partnership arrangements was distributed and discussed during the conference. To provide a practical assessment of how partnerships will work, GPO is establishing several pilot partnership projects. Potential partnerships under consideration include: Princeton University and the Office of Technology Assessment Web site; University of Illinois at Chicago and the Department of State Internet site (DOSFAN); State University of New York at Buffalo/University of Texas at Arlington and depository shipping lists; and OCLC to test mass storage of and access to an archived FDLP information product.

Aldrich concluded his remarks by announcing that GPO has become one of several cosponsors for a conference on the Preservation of Digitized Department of Agriculture publications. This conference represents one of the first major efforts to sort through the problems associated with preserving and providing wide scale public permanent access to digital federal information products. As a sponsor, GPO will be at the table as the conference is planned, held, and as a final plan for preserving USDA digital information products is written.

Sandy Schwalb, newest ETS member, talked about her work in continuing and/or initiating partnerships and cooperative efforts with other federal agencies, to ensure that government information products would get into the FDLP. One project currently underway is with the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS). GPO and NCLIS have developed a proposed Interagency Agreement to conduct an "Assessment of Standards for Creation and Dissemination of Electronic Government Information Products." It is felt that utilization of standards will:

  1. facilitate access to and use of electronic government information products by the government, depository libraries and the public;
  2. decrease costs to depository libraries and the public for equipment and services;
  3. simplify training for end user access to government information; and
  4. improve the ability of the government and depository library partners to maintain permanent access to government information products and facilitate the goal of collecting and analyzing government information life cycle costs.
The information gathered from this assessment will be used to improve public access to government information that is available through the FDLP and to the general public. [Note: NCLIS held a break-out session during the conference to solicit input from attendees about this assessment.]

Another project Schwalb is working on is exploring options to determine how NTIS and GPO can cooperate to ensure that electronic government information products available through NTIS can be accessed through the FDLP. Currently, NTIS is planning to work with the University of California-Davis Library on a pilot project to provide depositories with online access to electronic images of federally funded scientific, technical and engineering publications in the NTIS collection. Libraries would be asked not to use the file for commercial purposes. NTIS's proposal calls for a pilot with 20 depositories. Contact NTIS if you are interested in participating.

The last project Schwalb detailed was one with the Department of Energy (DOE). The DOE reports microfiche program was discontinued at the end of FY 96. Instead, the FDLP would be receiving the reports in an electronic format. Sandy detailed her month long adventure with trying to get the DOE reports in a compatible file format. In addition, there is a need for some sort of abstract for each report to facilitate searching this material. What this project highlighted was the difficulty of working with data put together for one purpose, such as on-demand printing and then trying to work with it in another format, for example, accessing it from the Web.

In addition to these updates, there were demonstrations of Pathway Services, GPO Access, and GILS. Focus groups were held on service issues in the electronic environment, building partnerships to insure permanent access, the NCLIS assessment of standards, statistical measures of service and use, and using the WWW to ease the transition to a more electronic FDLP. All in all, very full and informative DLC meeting.

Odds and Ends

  • Users are downloading an average of 2.5 million documents per month from over 70 databases on GPO Access.

  • Distribution of tangible products for FY 96 (some 29,400 titles) was down from FY 95 (44,700 titles).

  • Self-study will be put into regular use in FY 97, beginning with those libraries which were last inspected in 1989 and 1990. [The "Self-Study" was issued as Federal Depository Library Manual Supplement 3 in Sept. 1996.]

  • A special, one-time-only 2 1/2 day conference for regional depository librarians will be held in mid-August 1997 in Minneapolis, MN.

  • Beginning January 1, 1997, LPS will upload only the Tables of Contents from Administrative Notes and the Technical Supplement to GOVDOC-L. The complete electronic text will be on the GPO Web site. Printed copies of these publications will continue to be distributed to all depository libraries in the shipment boxes.

  • Anne Watts was elected DLC Assistant Chair/Chair Elect.

    Source : Susan E. Tulis, University of Virginia, Law School Library, 580 Massie Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903; Phone: 804/924-3504; Fax: 804/982-2232; E-Mail : set7c@virginia.edu; GOVDOC-L, October 31, 1996.

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