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Happy 16th Birthday to the USDocs PLN!

The USDocs Private LOCKSS Network (PLN) was launched in 2008 as a digital repository for the U.S. Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), a network of over 1,100 participating libraries across the United States. The FDLP has for over 200 years ensured the safeguarding of documents published by the U.S. Federal Government through the same “lots of copies keep stuff safe” principle that now drives LOCKSS digital preservation networks. FDLP libraries select a basic subset of federal reports and documents, with individual libraries providing a wide range of additional specialized services and collections.

For government documents, preservation within a tamper-evident environment is essential to creating a trustworthy historical record. The USDocs PLN preserves born-digital and digitized government publications, ensuring the long-term survival of government documents in their modern form(s). Through geographically-distributed sites and replication, and peer-to-peer validation, the USDocs PLN ensures that alterations to digital publications–whether deliberate or accidental–are detected and rectified in much the same way that the FDLP has historically ensured for ink and paper publications. 

Preserving Democracy Through Ownership

At the heart of the FDLP lies the idea that libraries across the United States are not just passive repositories but active stewards of these vital materials. They dedicate themselves to preserving content for the good of society and to safeguarding democracy. FDLP libraries are driven by a mission: to provide free public access to official information, thereby empowering citizens with knowledge and fostering transparency. As the FDLP becomes increasingly digital, the GPO will print and distribute a decreasing number of titles in hard copy to just a few libraries in each of the four National Collection Service Areas (NCSAs), and the USDocs PLN will be collecting and preserving a growing percentage of the U.S. Federal Government’s output.

Stepping into the Future

We're excited to announce that as of January 17th, after working with the Government Publishing Office (GPO), each node in the USDocs network is permitted to crawl at approximately double the previous rate, ensuring more rapid and timely preservation. In 2023, the USDocs PLN released 262 new collection years. As of February 2024, USDocs has already released 227 new collection years to libraries in the network, and is on track to considerably outpace previous years’ progress. Another noteworthy development: the addition to USDocs of the GPO’s new Congressionally Mandated Reports collection, commencing with materials from 2021-2023. 

Prepare for the Future

For our library partners, with this acceleration in preservation efforts, it's a good time to evaluate your system hardware; confirm that disk sizes will be adequate to accommodate the increased addition of content in the coming year; and check that your connection to the USDocs PLN enables continuing monitoring of materials in case of hardware issues, accidental, or purposeful deletion. USDocs partners who have inactive boxes, or questions about any aspect of their participation in the network, are welcome to contact the LOCKSS Program for assistance and support. (Information about system requirements can be found under the Resources section on the USDocs PLN page.)

Join Us in Celebrating FDLP and USDocs!

The FDLP and the USDocs PLN play pivotal roles in preserving our nation's history and knowledge. It is a testament to the commitment of citizens who oversee and take responsibility for the long-term care and maintenance of this invaluable content. 

If you are an FDLP library and a member of the Global LOCKSS Network (GLN) or another LOCKSS network, consider joining the USDocs PLN and contributing to this essential, democracy-preserving work. FDLP libraries that are already members of the GLN can add a USDocs LOCKSS box for no additional fee. For more information, visit the USDocs webpage or contact Digital Federal Depository Library Program Network Coordinator James Jacobs for additional information.

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