Virtual Coffee Klatches: Brainstorming the Future of the Digital FDLP

I am deeply concerned about digital collection development and a sustainable digital Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). The sustainability in the Internet era is now in question. With 97% of all Government information being “born-digital,” a rapidly growing percentage of Government information today is “fugitive” (within scope of the FDLP, but not actually collected, described or preserved by 20th century FDLP processes and workflows.)

During my presentation at the virtual Depository Library Council (DLC) conference in December 2014, there seemed to be interest from the attendees in creating a forum to discuss digital collection development, fugitive Government publications, Web harvesting, and other issues of importance to Government information libraries and librarians. From that discussion, I put a plan in place to set up a virtual public space so that the community could have an ongoing discussion, a place to ask questions, to brainstorm, to explore, and to talk through the many challenges facing the FDLP.

In my mind, the requirements for such a forum would be a low bar and ease of use in terms of technology. I decided on using Internet Relay Chat (IRC) because of its long-standing ubiquity; it is the precursor to Instant Messaging (IM) and one of the primary means of Internet communication for techies worldwide. There are multiple means of access, and it’s low (i.e., free!) cost. IRC can be used from the Unix/Linux command line but also has good free clients on both the Windows and OSX platforms as well as Web interfaces for those who work in organizations with very restrictive technology policies precluding them from installing software on their work stations. See below for directions on using IRC and connecting to the #FDLP channel.

We’ve now successfully held two “virtual coffee klatches.” Discussions have ranged from how to find and track on regional offices of Federal agencies to more actively using the Internet Archive’s WayBack Machine to preserve .gov Web sites to the Chesapeake Project to the nascent fugitives reporting project using Zotero. Be on the lookout for the announcement on GOVDOC-L for the next digital collection development coffee klatch.

There are certainly challenges and opportunities ahead for maintaining and expanding the national bibliography. But through discussion and collaboration we can do more than any one library or the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) can do on their own. Collectively, we can attain the digital FDLP that libraries and the public deserve. I hope everyone will join in the discussion!

Directions for connecting to the #FDLP channel on IRC:

  1. Install an IRC client (unless you prefer to do it from the command line)
  2. Connect to the IRC server. In the case of #FDLP IRC channel, I've registered the chat room on the server irc.freenode.net.
  3. Join the #FDLP chat room

IRC frequently Asked Questions:

IRC chat clients:

*NOTE: Some of the popular chat/IM clients, notably Adium for OSX and Pidgin for Windows, support the IRC protocol.

Connecting to IRC via your Web Browser (No installation required!):

  1. Visit https://webchat.freenode.net/?channels=%23fdlp.
  2. The channel (#FDLP) should appear automatically. Enter a nickname and the captcha, then click connect.
  3. Note that it may pause for a moment when logging in. This is completely normal and no cause for panic.

Other links for Information and Help with IRC:

News & Events

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November 16, 2021
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Maggie Farrell served on the Depository Library Council 1994-1995 and 1998-2001, serving as Chair 2000-2001. Currently, Maggie is the Dean of Libraries at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and previously served as the Dean of Libraries at the University of Wyoming and Clemson University. Although her focus is on leadership and management, Maggie formed her understanding of information systems and library operations as a Government information librarian that guides her to this day in the values of open information and equitable access.

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The LibGuide team would like to thank the FDLP community for your continued support in 2021. Usage increased by 34%, and we added 29 new guides in 2021. We also added these new subjects: Asian American-Pacific Islanders, Business and Economics, Federal Agency Guides, and Social Sciences. In 2022, the LibGuides team would like to add new guides on these topics: Government information in Spanish, Government Information training for students and para professionals, American Indian or tribal resources, Federal Agencies, and Social Sciences. Submit your LibGuides.


On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered a short speech at the close of ceremonies dedicating the battlefield cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Honoring a request to offer a few remarks, Lincoln memorialized the Union dead and highlighted the redemptive power of their sacrifice. Placing the common soldier at the center of the struggle for equality, Lincoln reminded his listeners of the higher purpose for which blood was shed. In spite of Lincoln’s disclaimer that “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here,” his brief speech continues to resonate in the American memory.

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