Canadian government documents and websites at risk!

The distribution of government documents is crucial to keeping citizens informed and able to make decisions.  Governments everywhere have experienced budgetary concerns and as a result, many depository programs are faced with challenges that seem insurmountable considering the lack of funds and staff to assure the maintenance of access to government information.  Recently, the Canadian depository program has been challenged with a number of recent developments that have been especially worrisome to government documents librarians.  An announcement in April 2012 stated that all distribution of print publications would cease by March 2014, sending librarians scrambling to pull together a plan of action.  Additionally, a website renewal action plan was announced in November 2012 with 2014 completion dates.  A speech about the plans stated that the government was working on consolidating its Web presence from 1,500 to 6 or fewer websites.

While the Canadian government has pulled together an action plan on open government, the shortened time frame in which current Canadian governmental websites will be shut down has left other organizations scrambling to archive web content before losing it forever.  Budget cuts have hindered Libraries and Archives Canada from pursuing preservation actions and the resulting weight has fallen heavily on Canada’s academic and special libraries to preserve what they can as soon as possible.  The Canadian Library Association has been working to advocate for the need to preserve government information.  In particular, maintaining a catalog of publications is absolutely necessary, regardless of whether information comes in a print or digital format, in order for depository libraries to maintain their collections, as outlined in the US GPO’s  report, Rebooting the Government Printing Office.  Additionally, it is vital that Canadian governmental agencies continue to report their publications to the Depository Services Program.

Stay up-to-date with the recent developments on the Government Information Network blog sponsored by CLA, with distribution changes outlined here.

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