The New Government Information Landscape: UC Opportunities for Shared Collections and Collaboration


“The New Government Information Landscape: UC Opportunities for Shared Collections and Collaboration.”

October 28, 2004

Preservation Park facility, Oakland, CA

Workshop Description

This workshop will provide a look at the many dramatic and rapid changes in government information. Many librarians and staff are not aware of the pervasiveness of digital government information and the implications this has for UC in dealing with both our physical and digital government information collections. These changes provide extensive opportunities in terms of shared collections and collaborative activities within UC. The workshop will explore existing examples of these types of collaborations, as well as look at future possibilities.

Goals of Workshop

–To make UC librarians aware of the pervasive changes happening to government information in a digital environment.

–To make UC Librarians aware of how this pervasiveness affects UC government information collections in print and digital format.

–To explore and raise awareness of potential and existing shared collections, including non-government areas.

–To discuss and find ways for all interested UC librarians to partake in collaborative activities for maintaining expertise, training new librarians or librarians who are new to working with government information (in a reference setting) and sharing government information collections.

Number of Attendees

90 attendees were registered (we had a couple of cancellations the day of the workshop). Attendee slots were apportioned to each campus according to the SOPAG workshop formula.


9-9:30 Registration and Refreshments

9:30-9:45 Welcome by Daniel Greenstein, CDL

9:45-10:40 Judy Russell, Superintendent of Documents: Keynote speaker—broad overview of changes in government information and future directions

10:40-11:15 Janet Coles, California State Library—”Government Information Programs at the California State Library: History and Possibilities.”

11:15-11:30- Break

11:30—12:00 Lucia Snowhill, UCSB, Nancy Kushigian, SLP—Working with Government Information System-wide”

12:00-12:30 Patricia Cruse, CDL– “The Web-at-Risk: Archiving Web-Based Government Information and Political Communications”

12:30-1:30 Lunch (Provided on-site)

1:30-2:00 Roundtable Session 1

2:00-2:30 Roundtable Session 2

2:30-3:00 Patricia Cruse, CDL–Summary/Next Steps for the University of California

Workshop Expenses

Room Rental – $425

Food – $1411.58 (lunch and morning refreshments)

Meeting Materials (handouts, nametags, etc.) – $100

Total: $1936.58 (Our original workshop budget request was approved for $3225)

Planning Committee

Marilyn Moody, UCSB, Chair

Patricia.Cruse, CDL

Kris Kasianovitz, UCLA

Phyllis Mirsky, UCSD

Article in DTTP

A summary of the workshop, written by Kris Kasianovitz, will appear in a forthcoming issue (v. 33: 1) of Documents to the People (DTTP).

Summary of Workshop Evaluations

Of the 97 attendees (including speakers and workshop planners), 37 participants filled out evaluations.

Of the 37 people that filled out an evaluation form, 33 felt that they had gained a better understanding of the issues involved with government information collections. Most expressed concern that so much information is being produced via the web and how rapidly this information is lost. Of particular concern is the vulnerability of the state and local documents. Creating easy and stable access to government information through bibliographic records or other metadata schemes was another theme raised by most.

Before the workshop, many participants were not aware of the various digitization and digital preservation projects that are taking place at the UC level, State level, and with GPO. Many expressed great interest in the CDL NDIPP grant project and would like to utilize the capture and preservation tools that will be developed.

The topic of shared collections was woven into the entire program. From the evaluations, 26 people felt they had gained a better understanding of shared collection issues for government information. Based on the responses (and lack of responses) this topic did not yield a great deal of input or solutions in this area. Shared cataloging and better bibliographic access through Melvyl came up several times as did the concern for preservation of digital information. Several participants noted that they had been unaware of the UC-wide shared collections projects and UC GILS shared collection efforts.

Overall, the most useful information that participants took away from the workshop is the necessity for collaboration (between UC libraries, government information librarians, and bibliographer groups) and collaborative collection development. The need for training in the area of government information and some methods for conducting this training was also a notable piece of information participants took away from the workshop.

While most participants liked the roundtable sessions, there were too many questions and issues for people to discuss in the time allotted. Also, many tables had too many people from the same UC sitting at them, so the discussions were not as diverse as they could have been. One comment however summed up the overall effectiveness of these session: “the combination of documents and reference librarians from both general and specialist libraries yielded perspectives any one of us couldn’t have conceived independently, particularly in terms of training possibilities.” Each table reported out on their topics; a summary of these reports is included in this report in a separate section. The information gathered from these reports will help shape some of the next steps that can be taken.

Participants were asked to list issues they would have liked more information or discussion on. They fell into the following categories:

  • How to effectively merge reference service points.
  • Copyright issues.
  • Preservation – in depth discussion of digital preservation, tools, etc.
  • Models for coordinating digital collections.
  • Government information security concerns (i.e., reports that are pulled by agencies).
  • Dealing with staff and money shortages.
  • How to recruit into this [government information] field.
  • Shared Collections – technologies for doing this.
  • Maps.
  • Foreign and International documents.

Major Themes


Access to legacy holdings.

Access to disappearing materials published on the web.

Specifically, access to California, Local, and International documents.

Bibliographic control

Melvyl records (single vs. multiple campus access).

Shared cataloging.

Complexities involved with cataloging.

CDL NDIIPP grant and the tools it will develop

Overall interest in the grant (not many knew about it).

Many participants are looking forward to using these tools.

Collaboration and communication

Between bibliographer groups and government information groups.

Beyond UC.


Lack of persistence to government information.

Loss of information due to short life of websites.

Preservation of California, Local, and International documents.

Increased need to capture digital information.

Dimension/complexities of problems associated with trying to preserve digital

information and digitization of government information.

Shared collections for government information

For collections – statewide commitment to government information balanced by strong desire to eliminate duplication of collections.

Overall support for shared collections.

Lack of centralized funding and coordination.


More training needed, particularly for non-government information specialists

Apprenticeship or internship for new government information or non-government information librarians.

How to replace expertise/government information librarians when librarians leave?

Roundtable Sessions

The afternoon session consisted of roundtable discussions. Each table was given two worksheets that dealt with questions about shared collections, digital collections, and retention of government information expertise. The discussions yielded a number of suggestions and questions about each of these topic areas. The major themes, including some action items are below.

Collection Development in the digital environment

  • Made it haphazard.
  • Not collecting systematically.
  • We do not know what is being distributed, when serial publications cease, and web versions start, etc.
  • Can we share information about digital publications, help each other out?
  • No assurance of persistent access.
  • Materials not available to libraries in paper, e.g. Governor’s new Budget.
  • Often print gets thrown away.
  • Keep track of new web pages as they appear.
  • Physical collections a low priority.
  • Absence of attention to what’s out there, i.e. hot topics.

Making access easier to digital and print collections:

  • Pathfinders or other navigational tools.
  • Cataloging in Melvyl — have location information reflect universal access (i.e. not limit records that describe web resources to certain library locations, since all libraries can access this information).
  • Print out some titles, so you actually have a hard copy.

Shared/Collaborative Collections

  • Is “collaborative environment” enough or is something more needed?
  • Continue to develop INFOMINE for electronic resources; this is a good tool for building collaborative electronic collections. It can be distributed and replicated.
  • Define local collecting practices.
  • Draw up agreements, memorandums of understanding to formalize shared collection arrangements.
  • ID and survey stakeholders about the kind of information they are using to help determine what needs to be kept for UC mission.
  • More communication between working groups to discuss workflow, technologies.
  • Whole new role for Government Printing Office — monitor, track electronic information changes. Also for GPO, look at strengthening Title 44 and requiring more standardization for government information.
  • Broaden collaborative efforts to local, regional, state, federal agencies, California State Universities* (*share tools, collections, expertise as well), other types of libraries, etc. Continue to work with GPO, ARL
  • Need to work on establishing working relationships with agencies and work on educating agencies about collection of materials.
  • Collaborative work to collect fugitive documents
  • Save money – collections, space, preservation (are shared collections, particularly government information shared collections, really a cost-saver though?)
  • Cataloging can be cleaned up and older items can be cataloged or this could cause a cataloging nightmare.
  • Would the role of the RLFs change? If shared collections are stored there, will they be able to provide reference service? Is this scaleable?
  • Will we lose key government information materials and reference materials due to shared collections?
  • Be sure to include Law Libraries.

Digital Collections

  • Identify those documents that are unique to each community/campus, using regional resources to select campus specific information
  • Define local collecting practices.
  • Assign harvesting of digital publications by subject/agency and divide responsibility among institutions.
  • Be aware of problems associated with migration of digital documents.
  • Use LOCKSS software.
  • Always start with policies to provide access to materials.
  • Look at our print policies first; see how they translate to digital.
  • Make systematic choices, e.g. if federal docs always make the same choice.
  • Formalize policies at the UC-wide level, mandate from the top.
  • Focus on State and local government information because it’s the most vulnerable.
  • Digitization and preservation of legacy collections.
  • Version control.
  • What about retention of superseded versions?
  • Coordinating collection development to have planned redundancy,
  • Develop a strategy to digitize key reference tools.

Training and Retention of Knowledge

  • Apprenticeship or internship in a government documents collection for 6 months – 1 year
  • Mentoring
  • Websites that can be shared and adapted (GODORT Handout Exchange, UC GILS website). Make sure they contain essential information and starting points especially to aid non-government information staff.
  • Create finding aids for materials; need to develop expertise in searching the web, since this can be hit or miss.
  • Listservs to post questions and get help; wide support for creating a Gov Info Blog –make sure to open in up/publicize to broad audience, not just government information specialists
  • UCs need to be sure to use the new GPO Consultant(s) — for training, collection development, etc.
  • Training sessions
  • Repeat Training sessions


    • Utilize national training opportunities
    • Create training modules, make available through CDL website
    • Training for ILL personnel to make requests for government information
    • Be sure to advertise training, local and national training sessions
    • Show and tell of major government information sources
  • Shadowing at the reference desk
  • Conferences and be sure to report back to larger group information learned at conferences.
  • Keep (and post) a list of reference questions we get at the desk, in consultations, email, or from digital reference.
  • Incorporate government information sources into new book lists and shelves.
  • Find a way for non-government information librarians to think more broadly about government information, since it incorporates more than just statistics and demography.
  • Post-merger environments – it is important to keep government information expertise; should have more than one person working on government information.
  • Workshop on essential government information knowledge
  • Utilize UC GILs group as basis of knowledge to coordinate efforts

Individual & Campus support for developing government information expertise

  • Support to attend professional development activities at all levels
  • Support and time to improve staff expertise while on the job
  • Support non-docs people to go to professional development activities
  • Report back on the local level to broad audience – be a delegate
  • Disseminate information re: events and training broadly, not just to Gov Docs people
  • Money for hiring expertise
  • University Librarians supporting government documents collections and librarian and emphasizing their importance to overall collections
  • Apprenticeships to serve for 6 months – 1 year in a government collection