Historic "fugitive" US document found and made available by Stanford Libraries

December 18, 2014
Mr. James R. (Librarian) Jacobs

(NOTE: this was first posted on Free Government Information blog as "What makes a "fugitive document" a fugitive?").

First off, I'd like to thank GPO (now the Government Publishing Office!) for posting about this Historic Fugitive Document Available through the CGP. I'd like to give a little context and parse out what makes a fugitive document -- a document that is within scope of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) but for whatever reason is not distributed by GPO to depository libraries -- a fugitive?

Fugitives are a rapidly growing problem as, according to GPO, 97% of all US documents are now born-digital, and most federal agencies are now publishing born-digital documents on their own .gov sites, thus cutting GPO out of the publishing process -- and eroding the national bibliography that is the Catalog of Government Publications (CGP) (BTW, my colleague Jim Jacobs (yes there are two of us!) and I will be giving a "Help! I'm an Accidental Government Information Librarian" webinar on fugitives next month so stay tuned for the announcement!).

In the case of the 1991 "Report on Semiconductors, Fiber Optics, Superconducting Materials, and Advanced Manufacturing”, an emeritus professor gifted this document to my colleague Stella Ota, our physics and astronomy bibliographer, who passed it along to me. I thought for sure we’d have this stand-alone or in the [United States Congressional Serial Set], the long-standing official collection of Congressional reports and documents near and dear to many govt information librarians' hearts -- and if you're particularly nerdy, there's a great book recently published about the Serial Set by Andrea Sevetson and Mary Lou Cumberpatch!

But the more I looked, the less I found. It was announced as transmitted to Congress in the Congressional Record (137 Cong Rec S 4449) and in the Public Papers of the President. But it didn’t show up in the Serial Set or in my wider net of the CGP, FDsys, or Monthly Catalog (another gem, the precursor to the CGP published since 1895). It shows up as a stub in Google Books, but nothing in Hathitrust. No libraries are listed in the WorldCat record. It simply hadn't been published, though it was announced that it had. (pro tip: don't always believe the Congressional Record when they say something has been published, check all the sources to make sure!).

I don't know how this Stanford emeritus professor came to have the document in his possession, but it had clearly fallen through the FDLP cracks. Thanks to Astrid Smith, one of our fine staff that work in the Stanford Library digitization lab in Digital Library Systems and Services (DLSS), it was quickly and expertly digitized, OCR'd, and stored in our Stanford Digital Repository, and also made physically available in the library.

So there you have it, a day in the life of 1 fugitive US publication.

Historic Fugitive Document Available through the CGP Details Last Updated: December 18 2014 Published: December 18 2014 The 1991 report prepared by the Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, “Report of the President to the Congress on Federal Policies, Budgets, and Technical Activities in Semiconductors, Fiber Optics, Superconducting Materials & Advanced Manufacturing,” is now available through GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

OCLC Number: 898189404
CGP System Number: 000938821
SuDoc Class: C 1.202:SE 5
Item Number: 0129-B (EL)
PURL: http://purl.fdlp.gov/GPO/gpo53991

GPO thanks James Jacobs and the staff at Stanford University for collaborating with GPO to provide the public with access to this historic fugitive document.