Internet Archive, Stanford University Libraries, and Other Partners Announce Project to Digitize U.S. Government Publications on Microfiche
Government documents from microfiche are coming to archive.org based on the combined efforts of the Internet Archive, Stanford University Libraries, and other library partners. The resulting files will be available for free public access to enable new analysis and access techniques.
Microfiche cards, which contain miniaturized thumbnails of the publication’s pages, are starting to be digitized and matched to catalog records by the Internet Archive. Once in a digital format and preserved on archive.org, these documents will be searchable and downloadable by anyone with an Internet connection, since U.S. government publications are in the public domain.
Seventy million pages on over one million microfiche cards have been contributed for scanning from Claremont Colleges, Evergreen State College, Stanford University, University of Alberta, University of California San Francisco, and the University of South Carolina. Other libraries are welcome to join this project.
The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), founded in 1813, provides designated libraries with copies of bills, laws, congressional hearings, regulations, and executive and judicial branch documents and reports to share with the public. Initially, the documents were on paper but in the 1970s, the U.S. Government Publishing Office began to use microfiche.
“While the new format saved space, the viewing and copying issues were exacerbated, so microfiche was never a favorite of the public,” said James Jacobs, the U.S. government information librarian at Stanford University Libraries. Stanford, which joined the FDLP in 1895, is donating approximately 250,000 federal government microfiche documents to the Archive. Stanford will then host digital copies of the documents in its digital repository in order to preserve and broaden digital access to the materials for the Stanford community and beyond. “That was one of the main reasons I was excited to have this content digitized. These important publications will be online and more accessible.”
Once all the documents are digitized, access will be greatly enhanced, and it will allow people to do broader machine analysis of digital content to track larger trends across years of technical reports or agency activity, Jacobs said.
The collection includes reports from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NASA, the Department of Interior, and other government agencies from the 1970s to the present. There are also transcripts of congressional hearings and other Congressional material that contain discussion of potential laws or issues of concern to the public, Jacobs said.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.