From DataRefuge to Libraries+

There have been nearly 30 DataRescue Events as of this writing. Can you believe it? We're so proud and inspired by all the hard work of event organizers and attendees. You are amazing.

As you know, DataRefuge grew quickly from grassroots. As we've grown, we've been able to get a better view of the underlying problem that led us to need these efforts. We've discussed this in many places before, but to bring it home, I'll summarize again: Government information is not archived systematically or particularly well. 

This problem isn't confined to the government, it's true of most born-digital information. We take for granted that information on the web will remain on the web - especially if it's being maintained by a trusted source like the federal government. But it's never a good idea to keep all of your eggs in one basket.

This leaves a simple sounding solution: We need to put our government information eggs into some more baskets. This is where Climate Mirror and DataRescue Events come in. These amazing basket weaving brigades have done an amazing job collecting government information. However, in our view, these methods aren't the best way to ensure government information is archived going forward. Chickens keep laying eggs. So do other birds. And lizards. And spiders.

To address the issue of sustainability, we've been envisioning a reboot of the Federal Depository Library Program wherein libraries will take on the responsibility of archiving the data and information of specific agencies in a distributed, coordinated way. And the more we think about the problem, the more complex we see it is. People in the library community have been thinking about this problem for years. As have people in the open data community and people within government agencies and researchers from a variety of disciplines.

And yet the problem remains. Clearly this is not a problem we at DataRefuge are going to solve. We need to bring together the voices, view points, and knowledge of these different communities. That's the aim of the blossoming Libraries+ Network, where representatives from all these communities will join forces to map out this problem and start to envision realistic solutions at the kick off meeting May 8-9 this year. 

We really can't say enough about how amazing the work of DataRescuers and Climate Mirrorists has been. DataRefuge will continue to stand with the efforts of DataRescue and support the work of Storytelling going forward. We're also so excited to move forward alongside the Libraries+ Network. We hope however you can, you'll join us.

Originally posted on the PPEH Blog at http://www.ppehlab.org/blogposts/2017/3/9/datarefuge-update-quo-vadimus