Public Access Assessments: Focus on Access, Collections, and Service Summary of Comments

GPO appreciates the input from the 23 respondents who reviewed and submitted comments in November, 2007 on the Public Access Assessments: Focus on Access, Collections, and Service paper. The paper outlines the focus and organizational scheme of the Public Access Assessment and describes the major categories of Access, Collections, Service, and Overarching Responsibilities to be utilized in the program. GPO is taking all comments into consideration as we review and update the paper.

Overall, comments were supportive of the direction LSCM is taking.  We received several comments that the paper provides relevant, straightforward concepts for the Public Access Assessment. Several also commented that the document’s elements, since they are focused on 44USC§19, are already being applied at their libraries and, therefore, will not need to do anything more in preparation for a Public Access Assessment. Federal depository libraries following Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) legal and program requirements to ensure free public access to Federal depository resources is provided shall be successful in a Public Access Assessment.

GPO received several helpful suggestions for additions or revisions to the paper, and we are reviewing each of these. Among the comments were requests to define the following terms: “public access”, “without impediments”, “reasonable amount of time”, “timely access”, and “timeframe whereby the information has utility” within the context of their use. We are reviewing the document to determine how best to clarify these concepts. Please note that “free public access” is defined in Public Access Assessments: Focus on Access, Collections, and Service as “perpetual, no fee, and ready access to Federal Government information products without impediments is available to the general public”. 44USC§1911 indicates that “depository libraries shall make Government publications available for the free use of the general public …”.

To clarify the issues even further, LSCM is providing sample public access scenarios to illustrate public access issues. Initial sample scenarios were discussed at the 2007 Federal Depository Library Conference. These scenarios illustrate potential public access impediments and effective ways to provide timely access and raise the visibility of the depository collection and services.  We will provide new sample scenarios which focus on best practices in the upcoming months at the Depository Library Council Meeting and on the FDLP Desktop.

Some of the suggestions received on the paper relate to concepts that are not the primary focus of the Public Access Assessment, public access requirements and other outcomes, but focus rather on depository management practices. The suggestions will be considered in context of the Federal Depository Library Handbook, which contains the official FDLP requirements and best practices. They will also be reviewed for inclusion in an updated library self-assessment resource. This resource, which will be developed this year as an update of the Self-Study of a Federal Depository Library (Federal Depository Library Manual Supplement 3), will be available for individual library strategic planning and educational purposes and will not be required in a Public Access Assessment.

GPO will continue to share information about Public Access Assessments as it is available. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to review the other Public Access Assessments documentation available here on the FDLP Desktop.

If you have any questions or comments about Public Access Assessments, please direct them to askGPO. To ensure that your inquiry is routed to the appropriate subject matter expert, please select the subject category of "Federal Depository Libraries > Depository Management > Public Access Assessments" from the category pull-down menus.

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