May 25, 2022

New Conference Paper: “Born-Digital U.S. Federal Government Information: Preservation And Access”

The following paper is suggested as background reading for the Center for Research Libraries 2014 Global Resources Collections Forum titled Leviathan: Libraries and Government Information in the Age of Big Data scheduled to take place later this month (April 24-25, 2014) at the University of Chicago.


Born-Digital U.S. Federal Government Information: Preservation And Access


James A. Jacobs
Data Services Librarian Emeritus, University of California San Diego
Technical Advisor for CRL’s Certification Advisory Panel
Note: Paper Prepared Under Contract with CRL


Center for Research Libraries Web Site

From the Introduction

Libraries, and more specifically depository libraries, and, most importantly, Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) libraries, have successfully preserved an important part of the public record of our democracy for 200 years (McGarr). Although some librarians have questioned whether or not preservation was either an intentional goal of the FDLP or an objective of the participating libraries (Shuler 2004), it is undeniable that the Program has successfully preserved millions of volumes, even if that was a byproduct of other intentions.

But the migration of government information from print to digital has introduced new problems into the challenge of preserving government information. Very little government information is being deposited in FDLP libraries. In 2013 the Government Printing Office (GPO) estimated that 97% of federal government information was born-digital and current GPO policy limits FDLP deposit of digital information to so-called “tangible” objects such as CD-ROMs and DVDs (GPO 2006), which create their own preservation problems (Gano). While libraries played an essential role in preservation of government information in the print era, most born-digital government information is not held, managed, organized, served, or preserved by libraries.

Direct to Full Text Paper (26 pages; PDF)

Direct to Complete Forum Program

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.