The Federal Depository library Program (FDLP) is a geographically dispersed network of 1250 libraries around the US who for over 150 years have worked with the Government Printing Office (GPO) to insure that government information is deposited in local libraries and freely available to everyone. FDLP libraries have also assured the authenticity of government information through this distributed system. Documents librarians have long been advocates for government transparency, freedom of information, privacy and civil liberties (freedom to read etc).
FDLP librarians are now trying to apply that distributed concept to the digital world to figure out ways to give access to — and more importantly to preserve — digital government information. They're doing things like harvesting Web content (see for example web archiving @ Stanford, Archive-it.org & CA digital Library's web archiving service) preserving digital govt information in distributed archives (Government Documents Private LOCKSS Network ), working with government agencies like GPO and transparency activists to advocate for bulk data, "digital deposit" and open content standards.
While the concept of a distributed system can be applied perfectly to the digital world (think napster for govt information!), the FDLP network is being threatened by the very idea that the FDLP is a print concept only. With digital deposit, harvesting, bulk data, open standards etc, we can continue the FDLP to assure the distribution, access to and long-term preservation of government information. Contact your local FDLP librarian and tell them you support a distributed digital FDLP. Further reading:
Images from the completely great Best Titles Ever project.