Global Resources Collections Forum
Gleacher Center, Chicago
April 24–25, 2014
Ensuring the survival and integrity of government information has always been an important role for research libraries. The digital revolution, however, radically changed the ways in which government information is produced and distributed, upending longstanding library models for preservation and access. Today, we must find new ways to ensure that the information governments gather and provide to their constituents, and the records of the workings of governments, remain available to researchers for the long term.
Research libraries have always played an important role in ensuring the survival and integrity of government information. In the print era research libraries collected and preserved the publications and the records of U.S. and foreign governments. The digital revolution, however, has radically changed the ways in which government information is produced and distributed, upending longstanding library models of preservation and scholarly access. Therefore today, new ways must be found to ensure that the information governments gather and provide to their constituents—and the records of the workings of governments—remain available to researchers for the long term.
CRL’s 2014 Global Resources Collections Forum will bring together representatives of NARA, government agencies, publishers, historians, and members of the research library community, to explore how libraries, collectively and individually, can ensure long-term scholarly access to the born-digital records, data and publications of domestic and foreign governments.
The Forum title refers to the English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes’s 1651 treatise, Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil. The treatise argued the need for “strong, undivided government” as a check on the disorder and brutality inherent in human society. Hobbes used in his title the biblical term for sea monster, referenced in the Old Testament and pictured on many maps from Hobbes’s era to signify uncharted territory.
This event is open to all interested directors, staff and faculty at CRL libraries. There is no registration fee, but advance registration is required.
Session 1: Libraries and the Records of Governments
Thursday, April 24, 1:00–5:00 p.m.
Today most government records are created and managed in a multitude of digital systems and platforms, many of them in “the cloud.” With the availability of digital media, moreover, the volume of the records produced has mushroomed. (The Bush administration alone generated over 200 million emails and 11 million digital photographs.)
Both the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Research Service have raised concerns about the long-term integrity of U.S. agency electronic records and data. Add to this the growing frequency of unofficial disclosures of internal communications by WikiLeaks, media organizations like The New York Times and The Guardian, and other third parties, and a number of policy issues surface. This session will explore the policy and political challenges the “digital government” ecosystem presents for libraries and the implications of this new reality for the stewardship of important historical evidence.
1:00–1:45 p.m. Welcome and Keynote: Information, Transparency, and Government Records in the Digital Age: A Public Policy Perspective
Speaker: Thomas S. Blanton, Executive Director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University. Dr. Blanton is a leading advocate of government transparency and disclosure. Founded in 1985 by journalists and scholars, the National Security Archive is a distinguished research and advocacy organization that defends and expands public access to government information. In 2000, the Archive won U.S. journalism's George Polk Award for “piercing self-serving veils of government secrecy, guiding journalists in search for the truth, and informing us all.”
1:45–2:15 p.m. Electronic Records and Internal Communications: The Historian’s Perspective
Speaker: Matthew J. Connelly, Historian, Columbia University
2:30–4:00 p.m. Panel Discussion: Preserving the Electronic Records of Governments: Issues and Challenges
- Paul Wester Jr., Chief Records Officer for the United States Government, NARA
- Michael Wash, Chief Information Officer, NARA
- TBD, Library and Archives Canada
4:00–4:30 p.m. Q&A
4:30 p.m. Session Summary and Wrap Up
Session 2: Libraries and the Information of Governments
Friday, April 25, 9:00 a.m.–12:00 noon
In the print era, many CRL libraries served (and continue to serve) as regional or selective federal depositories, bearing the responsibility for providing local access to published government documents and information in print and microform. And most academic libraries also acquired or subscribed to commercially produced databases of government documents and information.
Today, the public information landscape is being transformed: by government agencies’ widespread adoption of social media, their embrace of “cloud” services for storage and management of records and information, and by Open Government mandates that make oceans of agency data freely available on the Web. This session will examine the new government information “supply chain” and explore:
- The newly emerging models for dissemination of government political, economic, and population information and data
- The new strategic benefits and opportunities for libraries of the “post-custodial” age, when government agencies publish directly to the Web
9:00–9:30 a.m. Keynote: Open Government and Big Data
Speaker: John S. Bracken, Director, Journalism and Media Innovation, Knight Foundation
9:30–10:00 a.m. Government Records and Information: Real Risks and Potential Losses
Speaker: James A. Jacobs, Data Services Librarian Emeritus, University of California San Diego, and member of CRL’s Certification Advisory Panel.
10:15–10:45 a.m. The Digital Future of FDsys and the Federal Depository Library Program: A Public Policy Analysis
Speaker: R. Eric Petersen, Specialist in American National Government, Congressional Research Service
10:45–11:30 a.m. Panel Discussion: New Models of Access: The Role of Third Party Aggregators and Publishers
- Susan Bokern, VP, Information Solutions, ProQuest
- Robert Lee, Director of Online Publishing and Strategic Partnerships, East View Information Service
11:30 a.m.–12:00 noon Q&A and Session Summary
Session 3: New Models of Stewardship: An Agenda for CRL and North American Research Libraries
Friday, April 25, 1:00–3:00 p.m.
Attendees and presenters will explore what stewardship means in an age of digital government and big data. Desired outcomes include: consensus on the appropriate role of research libraries regarding government-produced information and records; recognition of how that role relates to the parts played by government, the media, and the commercial sector; a new strategic framework for the collective work of US and Canadian research libraries; and new multi-year strategic priorities for CRL.
1:00–1:30 p.m. Government Records and Information: An Inventory of the Major Threats and Challenges
Speaker: Bernard Reilly, President, CRL
1:30–2:30 p.m. Panel Discussion: Prospective Roles and Actions for Libraries and CRL
- Mary Case, University Librarian, University of Illinois at Chicago
- Ingrid Parent, University Librarian, University of British Columbia and former Assistant Deputy Minister, Library and Archives Canada (LAC)
- Brent Roe, Executive Director, Canadian Association of Research Libraries
2:30–3:00 p.m. Conclusions: A New Strategic Framework for Collective Action by North American Academic Libraries and New Multi-year Priorities for CRL