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Electronic Government Publication Preservation Programs Session at LRL Conference

This morning I'm attending the Legislative Research Librarians' Professional Development Seminar here in Madison. I'm excited about the great line up of presentations.

First up was Chi-Shiou Lin doctoral student at UW Madison SLIS who spoke on Electronic Government Publication Preservation Programs. His research addresses the question of how selection and review of gov docs is done.

Lin compared three different models for state level preservation programs, although he noted that only about ten states even have a such a program.

  • In the Bibliocentric model, which Wisconsin and several other states employ, librarians select documents to be preserved in an externally developed digital repository service.
  • In Texas' Technocentric model, agencies themselves provide the metadata for their own documents which are stored in a homegrown repository.
  • Unlike the previous two models which focus on documents, Arizona's Archival Model focuses on preserving certain sections of a state agency's web site. It's based on archival organizational structures.

There was a very interesting discussion of the issues raises by these models. Lin noted that in the bibliocentric model, the power of selection is shifting away from government agencies to the digital depository librarians who now decide what to preserve. And no one has yet developed a process for systematic selection. In the technocentric model, the quality of metadata varies by agency which makes access inconsistent.

Another issue raised was the definition of "government publication." While librarians prefer the PDF format, research has found that agencies are moving toward HTML which poses not only preservation problems, but may not be considered "official" in terms of legal research.