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Wednesday, 30th December 2009

Carl Malamud on Creating a National Scan Center

Once again Carl Malamud offers up an interesting and provocative essay. Here is just a sample.

From the Essay:

Just before I testified, I read in the New York Times that the President of France had just announced a stimulus package of $50 billion. President Sarkozy pledge 2% of that stimulus package, a full $1.1 billion, towards scanning and digitizing a national archive. I didn't use the term Freedom Scans in my testimony, but the fact that the French were far ahead of the U.S. in putting paperwork into cyberspace seemed a political opportunity.

In the U.S., we face a similar deluge of paperwork that we faced in the 1930s. A huge backlog of paper, microfiche, audio, video, and other materials is located throughout the federal government. Little money has gone from Congress for digitization, and bureaucracies have resorted to a series of questionable private-public partnerships as a way of digitizing their materials. For example, the Government Accountability Office shipped 60 million pages of our Federal Legislative Histories (the record of each law from the initial bill through the hearings and conference reports) off to Thomson West, but didn't even get digital copies back. Another example is the recent failed effort by the Government Printing Office to digitize 60 million pages of the Federal Depository Library Program, an effort they tried to get through as a "zero dollar cost to the government" effort with the private sector.


There are several agencies in the government that face huge digitization and scanning backlogs, including the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, the Government Printing Office, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the National Technical Information Service. In addition, there are agencies such as the Government Accountability Office and the Defense Visual Information Directorate that have valuable archives.

Source: O'Reilly Radar

See Also: Archivist of the United States Announces Establishment of the National Declassification Center (12/30/2009)

See Also: Malamud and Others Testify Before Congress (12/17/2009, Prepared Testimony)


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