Earlier this year, the Government Publishing Office (GPO) undertook a massive digitization project to make every U.S. government document digitally accessible. On Sept. 9, during a Digital Government Institute webinar, Suzanne Ebanues, supervisory management analyst for Library Services and Content Management at GPO, updated attendees on the agency’s digitization efforts.

The collection includes more than a million records, on everything from presidential papers to documents on the Watergate hearings and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. GPO will digitize the documents and make them accessible on GovInfo.gov, the agency’s digital repository.

“Digitization of historic content fits right into GPO’s long history of working to ensure the American public [has] access to its government information,” Ebanues said. She added that the agency’s vision is to ensure that the nation remains informed with convenient and reliable access to the government’s information through GPO programs.

GovInfo will provide free public access to official publications from all three branches, such as the Federal Register, U.S. Court Opinions, and Congressional Records. In addition to providing an advanced metadata-powered search experience, GovInfo also includes a content management system and a standards-compliant preservation repository.

Additionally, according to Ebanues, to avoid duplication of efforts, GPO partnered with its network of Federal depository libraries to add content that they have digitized into GovInfo. But digitized content must meet specifications for ingest into GovInfo.

As of April 2021, there are 1,114 depository libraries across the country and its territories, and through this network, the GPO’s Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP) provides access to collections of government publications and expert assistance. With a few exceptions, all published Federal information dissemination products, regardless of format or medium, which are of public interest, educational value, or produced using Federal funds, are to be provided for libraries for public use.

Additionally, the FDLP helps to organize government information so users can identify and easily locate it. We also archive digital information products to ensure they are accessible in the future.

“To this end, my office has an ongoing effort to digitize historical government information that is within the scope of the FDLP. We’re using three different methods to acquire those digitized historic publications: partnerships with libraries in the FDLP, partnerships with other Federal agencies, and then we’re also digitizing content ourselves,” said Ebanues.

GPO currently has five partnerships with libraries: Boise State University, Oklahoma State University, the University of Florida, University of Washington, and Washington State Library. And this month, GPO will add to GovInfo a collection of publications from the U.S. Department of Agriculture digitized by the University of Florida.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.