A Summary of Collaborative Projects Working to Preserve Access to Government Data

Researchers of varied disciplines use federal information and data on a daily basis. Publically funded information and data are important not only to researchers, but to businesses and state and local governments as well. Recent events have resulted in concerns about the continuing accessibility of federal government information has led to several collaborative projects to preserve government data. This article is a summary of some of these projects, the types of data they collect, and how anyone can provide access to the valuable data.

The best known project is DataRefuge.1 DataRefuge focuses on identifying, assessing provenance, and creating trustworthy, research-quality copies of digital datasets of federal climate and environmental data for continued accessibility to researchers in such places as the Internet Archive.2 Volunteers can help in this effort to save information by visiting (http://www.ppehlab.org/datarefuge).

DataRefuge partners with several other climate/environmental data saving initiatives such as Climate Mirror, whose goal is to store climate change data redundantly in many locations around the world.3 The Azimuth Climate Data Backup Project also backs up climate data from NASA, NOAA, and other agencies.4, The Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI) are also either partners with DataRefuge or working on collecting and preserving the same data.5

Scientific data is not the only data being collected, social science data is also being covered as well. DataLumos is an archive within openICPSR, which is an archive created by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR).6 ICPSR has traditionally collected federal census data, criminal justice data, and educational data, but now with DataLumos, it is creating an archive specifically for federal government social science data. DataLumos accepts deposits of public data resources from the community as well as recommendations to gather public data resources. Researchers can deposit data that they believe may be at risk or hard to find in the future. ICPSR is committed to ensuring that valuable data resources remain accessible and easy to locate. For an introduction on DataLumos, you can view a recorded webinar here to learn more (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzvlJk_wbzw&feature=youtu.be).

While not truly about data, another project that was collecting government information web sites is the End of Term Presidential Harvest 2016.7 The End of Term Web Archive captures and saves U.S. Government websites at the end of presidential administrations and started in 2008. Nominations for websites to crawl run from September 2016 through March 1, 2017. The archived webpages are hosted by the California Digital Library.

So there are several ways we can help these efforts: by raising awareness and asking researchers we work with what their data needs are and what data sets they use regularly, by nominating those data sets to be archived, or by attending a data rescue event (http://www.ppehlab.org/datarescue-events/). You can also learn more at (librariesnetwork.org). Most of these initiatives also take monetary donations as well.

Laura Sare (lsare@tamu.edu), Government Information Librarian, Texas A&M University


  1. “Welcome,” accessed February 15, 2017, http://www.datarefuge.org.
  2. “Internet Archive,” accessed February 15, 2017, http://archive.org.
  3. “About Us,” accessed February 16, 2017, http://climatemirror.org/#about.
  4. “Azimuth Climate Data Backup Project,” accessed February 15, 2017, http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/azimuth_backup_project/.
  5. “DataLumos,” accessed February 15, 2017, https://www.datalumos.org/datalumos/.
  6. “openICPSR,” accessed February 15, 2017, https://www.openicpsr.org/openicpsr/.
  7. “End of Term Archive,” accessed February 13, 2017, http://eotarchive.cdlib.org/.


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