May 24, 2022

Webcast Now Available: "FDsys Helps GPO Provide Access to Federal Digital Publications"

From a National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program/Library of Congress Announcement:

“It’s like an all-you-can eat buffet, but all the options are healthy for you,” said Kate Zwaard, the Government Printing Office’s Lead Program Planner for Digital Preservation, in a visit to the Library of Congress on November 16, 2010.

Zwaard was talking about the GPO Federal Digital System , a suite of tools and services that helps the agency preserve and provide long-term access to the digital publications of the Federal government.

“FDsys is a preservation repository in the traditional sense, in that it conforms to the Open Archival Information System reference model (PDF),” Zwaard said, “but it’s also a content management system and an advanced search engine.” And while the FDsys is a modern software environment, the roots of the issues it was designed to solve go back to the early days of GPO.

The FDLP worked remarkably well for print publications for over a century, but as agencies opted to host more and more publications on their websites instead of printing them, it became more difficult for users to find what they were looking for. Instead of going to a library or a catalog and looking for an item, you had to know what organization (or sub-organization) was responsible for producing the documents and where they were posted on the web.

More importantly, no federal government entity looked after preservation of the content for public access. Material could be put on a webpage and taken down the next day, or accidentally corrupted, or rendered unusable by obsolescence of technology.

Zwaard described the decisions made by the Public Printer of the United States in 2004 to outline a strategic vision to turn what some called “disruptive technologies” into opportunities. GPO had been publishing content to the web for public access through its website GPO Access since 1993, but the Public Printer’s report lead to the development of the more comprehensive FDsys.

“What sets FDsys apart from most preservation repositories is that it is both a content repository and a system that serves as the electronic backbone of the agency,” Zwaard noted. “We’ve built a repository that is designed to maintain the usability of our assets free from dependence on specific hardware and software. But a big part of the system is about providing an organization for content and a workflow to help move publications through the agency for cataloging, proofing, print and possible reuse.”

Zwaard went on to describe the technological features of FDsys, including the structure of content packages, the content lifecycle and the GPO approach to content integrity and authenticity.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.