Information Produced by the Government
Most of the information produced in the United States is either done or funded by federal, state, or local government agencies. Elected officials need information about society in order to make economic, social, and political policy decisions. As a result government agencies at all levels collect information about society and perform research. Because information and knowledge generated by the government is produced with public tax dollars, the government is under an obligation to provide citizens with access to the information at little or no additional cost. Historically this has been done through the Federal Depository Library System.
In the depository system federal, state, and local governments identify specific libraries as depositories. Individual government agencies then submit copies of their publications to be placed in the depository libraries. The documents are in print, microform, or electronic format. In the past few years with the rise of the Internet, many government agencies are publishing more information online. As a result citizens can access useful government information at their local library or at home via an Internet connection.
Online access to government information is convenient but it also presents problems. Chief among these is the long-term preservation of information. As computer systems change there is no guarantee that the information will be compatible with future computer technology. Consequently, much of the information could be lost. As a result of the instability of electronic storage mediums, librarians and other professional groups argue for the continuation of the library depository system which guarantees continued access to print copies of information.
Take a look at the following government web site to see the variety of information available to you.
When you are finished click on the "Continue" button and go to the next lesson.