Archive for category housekeeping

Sunsetting Lostdocs project

Lostdocs Project

File this under “all good things must come to an end.” Since 2009, we here at FGI have been posting “fugitive” federal government publications (now called “unreported” documents or those documents that should be part of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) but have slipped through the cracks and remain uncatalogued and unpreserved) and advocating for the community to hunt for and report those documents to GPO. Through these efforts, thousands of unreported documents were sent in to GPO and made available for the long-term through FDLP libraries and GPO. We couldn’t have done it without the help of the many volunteers throughout the FDLP that have sent us their receipts of when they reported those documents to GPO. And we also couldn’t have done it without the dedication of folks like Daniel Cornwall, Jeffrey Hartsell-Gundy, and Meredith Johnston who helped by checking the Lostdocs email acct and posting new publications to the blog. I just archived the site in the Internet Archive’s Wayback machine for posterity. Thanks again everyone for the work that you do in making sure federal publications are curated, described, preserved, and made available long-term! Please keep reporting those documents to GPO. It’s critically important!!

That is all.

Reporting Lost Docs


According to GPO all Lost Docs/fugitive documents should be reported using their Lost Docs Reporting Form at  rather than through AskGPO.  See the response below.  

Reporting Lost Docs

Discussion Thread
Response (Diane Johnson) – 10/25/2011 12:46 PM
Good afternoon,

Fugitive documents should be reported through,

Thank you for using askGPO and for your continued support of the Federal Depository Library Program.  If you need additional assistance, please feel free to contact us again.

Customer (Meredith Johnston) – 10/25/2011 12:30 PM
Should all lost/fugitive documents be reported through “Ask GPO” or through the “Lost Docs Reporting Form” found at

Thanks for the clarification.

Meredith Johnston

Question Reference #111025-000037
Category Level 1: Federal Depository Libraries
Category Level 2: Fugitive publications/LostDocs
Date Created: 10/25/2011 12:30 PM
Last Updated: 10/25/2011 12:46 PM
Status: Solved
First Name: Meredith
Last Name: Johnston
Agency/Company Name:
Phone Number:
Depository Library #:



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Preservation Needed Category Expanded

With the obvious importance of and growing concern over the permanent preservation of government publications, we have expanded the definition of the “preservation needed” category. The revised and expanded definition is provided here.  Look for reports concerning this issue, based on forwarded receipts,  in the coming months.

Preservation Needed – This category may be assigned to a title that has a Catalog of Government Publications entry, but permanent preservation measures have not been taken for the publication or  permanent preservation issues appear to exist.  Examples include: has an agency URL but no PURL; missing link; misdirected link; broken link; error in loading document occurs; site no longer exists message.

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Slight Name Change

Some of you may have noticed that this month we made a slight name change to the Lost Docs Blog. It is now the Lost Docs Project Blog. We felt that adding the word “project” helps convey more exactly what we do.  We not only collect and post receipts, but we also analyze and produce reports based on those receipts received; and this is an ongoing project.  Thanks to all those who assist with this endeavor.

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Stay Tuned – New Blogging Team Coming Onboard

It’s been a very quiet month here at the Lost Docs Blog, but not for lack of reports. A number of personal and professional circumstances have prevented me (Daniel Cornwall) from giving the Lost Docs blog the attention it deserves. But reinforcements have arrived.

On behalf of Free Government Information (FGI), I am pleased to announce that a three member team of volunteers is taking over the posting and management of the Lost Docs Blog at Your new maintainers are:

Meredith Johnston – Self described independent scholar with an MLIS and a MA. GODORT member since 2007.

Jeffrey Hartsell-Gundy – Government Information & Law Librarian of the Miami University Libraries. He blogs documents for the University at

John Cash – Catalog specialist at Wells Library, Indiana University with over 10 years worth of documents experience.

We at FGI are pleased that these three documents community members are stepping forward to continue the process of illuminating the fugitive document submissions to GPO. How the blog works will remain the same. Keep sending your fugitive documents receipts from GPO to

I am still in the process of training the new team in posting, tagging and reporting on new fugitive reports. Thanks in advance for your continuing patience during this transition time.

Fugitives Cataloged by GPO Spreadsheet Now Available.

In the past year or so we have been tracking lost docs/document discovery reports, we’ve been made aware of 67 publications that appear to have been cataloged by the Government Printing Office in response to a lost docs report. We’ve created a spreadsheet of documents with the date reported and the date of the CGP catalog record. We have now made this spreadsheet public at and will keep it up to date.

A few cautions in using data from this spreadsheet:

1) This is probably not the full list of items cataloged in response to lost docs reports. We check the cataloging status of documents the month after they are posted. This catches some, but not all items eventually cataloged. Ideally we’d have someone run the entire list of fugitive and pending documents through the CGP once a aweek, but we don’t have staffing for that. If you’d like like to volunteer, send a note to dnlcornwall AT alaska DOT net.

2) We have no way of knowing for sure that a given item was cataloged in response to a specific report.

3) Although the spreadsheet offers an average and median number of days to catalog a document, those figures are only for the publications on the spreadsheet. Since we don’t get notified of all the documents reported as fugitive to GPO nor all of our reports that eventually get cataloged, we can’t come up with an actual solid figure for how long it takes GPO to acquire and catalog items. Our sample of 67 as of 12/4/2010 may or may not be representative.

But at least it’s a place to start until GPO starts publishing their own fugitive document/document discovery statistics.

New Category: Pending

Now that more lostdocs/document discovery reporting is being done through AskGPO, we’re receiving reports that include some variation of the following from GPO staff:

We have begun the process of putting this publication into the FDLP program. Thank you for using ask GPO and for your continued support of the Federal Depository Library Program.

Sometimes a record is available in the Catalog of Government Publications (CGP) right away and sometimes not. So we’ve decided to assign a new status, “pending” when we receive a report that GPO intends to put something into CGP and/or FDLP. When we become aware of a CGP record, we’ll change the status to “found.”

This status of “pending” replaces our recent practice of labeling something both “found” and “fugitive” and we hope will be less confusing.

GPO Plea – Give them as much info as possible

At the recent Six-State Virtual Conference, there was a Q&A Session from GPO at At 60:30, Joe McClane, Manager of Content Acquisitions for GPO, asked people making lost documents/document discovery reports to include as much information as they have on the document. The more the better.

It’s especially important that you give GPO an OCLC number if you have it as this can save GPO staff days of searching. Many of the reports we receive here at the Lost Docs blog seem to come with OCLC numbers, but an extra reminder doesn’t seem out of order.

Regular Posting to Resume July 1st

Just a quick note to let you know that the Lost Docs blog isn’t dead. I didn’t get any submissions the first half of June when I had time to post. I got a bundle of submissions the second half of June when life got a bit crazy around here. Posts will be restarted on July 1st and there will not be a June 2010 Report and Appeal published at Free Government Information.

If you’ve got receipts of fugitive documents you’ve reported to GPO, we still want to hear from you. Please try and forward them to lostdocs AT freegovinfo DOT info the same day you get them from GPO. But if you can’t do that, we understand.

Thanks GPO! Hard Stats on Lost Docs/Document Discovery

I’ve been going through documents from the Spring 2010 Depository Library Council meeting from last month and was giddy at finding the following section in the Spring 2010 Library Services & Content Management Update (Statistical findings not bolded in original).


Locating all content that falls within scope of the FDLP that has not yet been incorporated into the FDLP is an important initiative. For about a year now, GPO staff have been examining how these documents are brought into the Program in order to track, measure, and improve our business processes.

In quantity, the monthly lost/fugitive submissions continue to rise. Last year, GPO was receiving an average of about 80 lost/fugitive document submissions per month. This year, so far the average is about 125 per month, an increase of more than 50 percent.

The number of submissions undercounts the titles, because some single submissions for documents can represent multiple publications—it is not unusual to receive an entire web page listing or a bibliography in one lost/fugitive request. GPO staff work to unitize the submissions, research them, and consider each title for possible addition to the CGP.

GPO staff are analyzing the current lost/fugitive document workflow, to better understand where a title may get stalled. To establish a baseline for how long it takes for a typical lost/fugitive document request to get through technical processing from beginning to end (with current methods) staff took a sample of records that were cataloged in the last three months. The entire technical process includes scope determination, research, brief preliminary record, classification, cataloging for the CGP, and creation of OCLC record.

Results from the study included:
• It can take as little as two days for the entire process, but there is a wide variation, depending upon the title, the agency, and other factors such as additional required research with the agency, requiring a new class, requiring management review, and identifying a title based on partial submissions, to name a few.
20% were completed within 20 working days.
40% were cataloged within 40 working days.
Within 60 working days, about half went through the process, most within 40 working days.
• The other half took much longer, up to 100 to 120 working days (see 1st bullet).

GPO anticipates that this processing time can be reduced with new procedures. Staff will continue to monitor and track the lost/fugitive documents through the workflow to verify whether the new procedures are helping to move titles through the technical processing steps more quickly.

For some time, GPO staff have been looking at making a number of technical processing improvements including utilizing tracking and management reporting tools. We are

• Mapping the workflow;
• Creating new forms to more precisely identify these titles and to elicit more information that will reduce research time; and
• Identifying key points in the process when FDLP librarians may want status reports.

The goal is to generate management reports for GPO to be able to identify where in the workflow lost/fugitive requests are at any time, and how many requests may be waiting for some specific action in the technical processing workflow.

As a future step, GPO is looking at ways to utilize the askGPO system to track and report on all lost/fugitive submissions and serve as one point of submission.

As we undertake improving the LostDocs processes, we also want to improve communications with FDLP librarians and with federal agencies that help us locate content not yet incorporated into the FDLP system.

The input form for submissions from librarians will be revised. Clear definitions for what is considered lost/fugitive documents will be provided. The process for handling submissions will also be clarified. Additionally, GPO will identify key points in the workflow when librarians would like to receive feedback in the form of emailed status reports. GPO will also develop improved methods of outreach and documentation of agency information for staff to use.

As part of this revitalization, GPO will be changing the name of the LostDocs Program to “Document Discovery Program.”

To me, this is terrific news for a number of reasons:

  • GPO has gone public about what has happened to a number of “document discovery” submissions.
  • They’ve admitted that the current workflow is a problem and that about half of reported documents are taking many months to catalog.
  • They”ve outlined steps that, if followed, will probably result in better document discovery.
  • They seem to have committed to better public reporting of what happens to documents submitted to them.

We at FGI will be watching with eager anticipation to see how these steps are carried out and will encourage our readers and submission heroes to go by new guidance issued by GPO when it becomes available. We also await the new Document Discovery reports with anticipation and may have a few suggestions about them in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we just want to say THANKS GPO for taking a hard look at this problem, admitting the problem to the community and starting the process to make things better.

We’d also like to encourage people submitting links to publications pages to GPO to instead try to submit one askGPO report per document. At least identify your top 3-5 for cataloging and then make note of where GPO can find the other publications. There are more of us documents librarians and document enthusiasts than there are GPO acquisitions staff. We should do some of the title level separation work. Perhaps dividing huge publication pages into manageable amounts could be a multilibrary or library school project.

Do you have any reactions to this news? What kind of statistics do you want to see? What points in GPO’s process should trigger and e-mail notice? Should titles submitted be posted publicly as soon as they’re received. Leave a comment or drop a line to lostdocs AT freegovinfo DOT info.

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