Governments, like other large organizations, collect, produce, and distribute information. They generate statistical, demographic, economic, and geospatial information; and publish documents, such as laws, regulations, and executive orders, and other public records of legislative, judicial, and executive decisions and activities. During the print era, libraries acquired and organized these materials for use by researchers. CRL played an important role in this activity by preserving government publications and records not widely available elsewhere.
In the digital era, as governments expose more information directly to the web, the role of libraries in facilitating access is being re-examined. CRL recently convened two events to look at this role: a webinar on “Access to Government Information” that explored the implications for libraries of changes in the “supply chain”; and a Charleston Conference panel session, “From LexisNexis to WikiLeaks: the New Marketplace for Government Information.” This issue of Focus reports on those events, and the measures CRL is taking to address these new challenges.