DLF Government Records Transparency and Accountability Group
What is this?
This is the page for the DLF Working Group on Government Records Transparency and Accountability.
Read our announcement blog post.
The DLF interest group on Government Records Transparency and Accountability seeks to support a broader culture of records transparency in the digital age. Using a range of methods, we work to provoke wide-ranging consideration of, and action related to, the creation, accessibility, and preservation of materials created by local, state, and federal governments - including records, publications, information, data, and documents. In doing this work, we act on our belief that the free flow of government information is fundamental to a democratic society and that, as such, we want to work to ensure that information created by our governments is capably preserved and freely accessible to the public.
The group's work is aligned with the broader mission of the Digital Library Federation (https://www.diglib.org/about/), and abides by its Code of Conduct (https://www.diglib.org/about/code-of-conduct/).
How to Join
We invite you join this Interest Group! You don’t have to be a DLF member to participate.
Simply request membership in our Google Group to stay current on discussions and meeting dates. Meeting dates and minutes will also be posted to this page.
Please join online here (if you're new to Zoom, you may need to quickly download the software)
Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +16468769923, 8442973484# or +16699006833, 8442973484#
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): US: +1 646 876 9923 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 408 740 3766 Meeting ID: 844 297 3484 International numbers available: https://zoom.us/j/8442973484
- May Meeting - May 16 at 1pm EDT
- August Meeting - August 17 at 1pm EDT
12 April 2018 We hosted a special presentation on Federal Records Transparency and Immigrant Justice (recording available  here), featuring presentations by Emily Creighton (Deputy Legal Director, American Immigration Council), Victoria López (senior staff attorney at the National Prison Project of the ACLU), and Guillermo Cantor (Director of Research, American Immigration Council). Panelists offered an overview of FOIA and records transparency in the context of immigrant justice work; discuss how advocacy, research, and legal challenges to unlawful agency practices are informed by FOIA work; and touch on the particular challenges and rewards of pursuing transparency work in the Trump era. Details here.
30 March 2018 Amy West gave a special presentation entitled, "The GOP and the 2020 Census: Why count the population you have when you can make the population you want?" The agenda & minutes for the meeting are also available.
27 February 2018 Endangered Data Week 2018 Twitter Chat, as part of Endangered Data Week,, this group hosted an #EndangeredData Twitter chat hosted by @brandontlocke, @worldcatlady, @nowviskie, @captain_maybe. Endangered Data Week is a distributed event is designed to bring “awareness to different types of threats to publicly available data, engage with the power dynamics involved in data creation, sharing, and retention, and make endangered data more secure and accessible.”
- Q1. Introductions! Tell everyone a little something about who & where you are. What motivates your interest in #EndangeredData?
- Q2. Have you taken part in activities to preserve data or raise awareness of data stewardship? Doing anything for #EndangeredData Week?
- Q3. How do you personally (or how does your community or organization) use or think about publicly collected/available data? #EndangeredData
- Q4. Do you know of datasets that could be collected and made publicly available, but aren't? How could they impact you/your community/your organization? #EndangeredData
- Q5. Are datasets that matter to you or the communities you serve under any kinds of threat? Which datasets? What makes them #EndangeredData?
- Q6. What’s the biggest thing missing from local or national/global #EndangeredData teaching, awareness, or skills training, from your point of view?
18 August 2017 (Title 44 and the Uncertain Future of Free Public Access to Government Info in the US) with James Jacobs (audio recording here).
21 April 2017 Endangered Data Week webinar, "Endangered Accountability: A DLF-Sponsored Webinar on FOIA, Government Data, and Transparency". A recording of the webinar is available here. Presenters' Slides: Alex Howard; OGIS; Denice Ross
Regular Meeting Minutes
- 17 February 2017. (agenda)
- 3 March 2017. (agenda)
- 24 March 2017. (agenda)
- 16 June 2017. (No meeting.)
- 21 July 2017. (agenda)
- 18 August 2017. (Recording of Jim Jacobs' presentation on the threats to Title 44.)
- 15 September 2017. (No meeting.)
- 20 October 2017. (No meeting; the DLF Forum was the following week.)
- 1 December 2017. (agenda)
- 23 January 2018. Topics: Endangered Data Week, Title 44, group mission statement, Civic Switchboard.(agenda)
- 30 March 2018 Topics: 2020 census, PEGI, proposed working groups (agenda)
2017 Group Survey
As we begin to plan for the coming year, we think it would be useful to begin to develop stronger connections between members of this interest group. That is to say, we want to support efforts to get to know each other and outline shared values and directions despite our geographic distance.
To this end, a team of facilitators (Rachel Mattson, Brandon Locke, and Purdom Lindblad) propose that we spend some time in the coming months engaging in a series of one-one one conversations among participants in this group. We are hoping that these conversations will create a strong foundation for our group to expand and develop. We imagine these conversations as a way of beginning to approach three initial goals (and to identify additional goals):
- To build a shared vocabulary.
- To begin a process of developing stronger connections between members of this interest group - and supporting more intra-group conversation and collaboration.
- To create an action plan for the group’s future work.
We want to underscore that this is the first stage; we imagine these conversations as iterative and open to group recommendations.
How can you participate? Just follow the steps outlined below.
Complete survey form (before September 5). To begin, we invite you to complete a survey about what motivates you to participate in this group, what issues are of greatest concern to you, what practices you wish to share or to develop, and so on. We ask you to complete the form by the first week in September. Your responses will be sent to the group’s facilitators and also emailed back to you in order to help prompt reflection in paired conversations.
Meet with your partner (sometime before October 5). After individual surveys are completed, participating members will be matched to another person in the group. Once you have the name of your partner, you should reach out to them via email to set time and platform for shared discussion. We will provide prompts to get you started, but feel free to expand on those prompts. You may use whatever platform you prefer - e.g. email, Skype, or telephone.
For your conversation:
- Be sure to keep notes so that you can share back with large group later.
- Reserve a minimum of 30 minutes for this conversation. But feel free to decide together to extend that time. Be sure to clearly indicate your time constraints to your partner to avoid confusion.
Subsequently, participants will have the opportunity to share the results of their one-on-one conversations with the larger group. We will use these reflections to develop a shared set of principles and/or an action plan for the coming year.
Other Possible Directions
The work of this group is still in development, and we invite you to join us as we consider strategies for moving forward together. Some possible directions in which our endeavors might go:
- Learn, listen, gather info, ask questions. Reach out to organizations already doing smart work in the area of government sunshine, FOIA, public records transparency, and government accountability, and learn all that we can about their work. Where are these groups putting their efforts? What are the central concerns, questions, and debates they consider to be important? Which groups do we want to make connections to? Also: what are librarians and archivists already doing in this area? How might we extend and contribute to this work?
- Consider, discuss, and outline the ways in which this work, these questions, overlaps with our own areas of expertise and labors. How might we bring conversations about transparency and accountability into our schools, workplaces, and professional communities?
- Consider, discuss, and work toward understanding how we might use our expertise and situated-ness to support increased public records transparency and accountability at the local, state, and federal levels.
- Share what we learn with the broader DLF and library/archives community (and beyond?).