Magazine article American Libraries

Technically Speaking: Making a Federal Case out of Access. (Information Technology)

Magazine article American Libraries

Technically Speaking: Making a Federal Case out of Access. (Information Technology)

Article excerpt

For science to rapidly advance at the frontier, it must be open. And shared knowledge is the enabler of scientific progress." These words were spoken on October 12, 1999, by then-Secretary of Energy William Richardson on the occasion of the debut of PubScience, an initiative of the federal government's Office of Scientific and Technical Information. PubSci-ence offered one-stop Web access to articles published by peer-reviewed scientific and technical journals.

After President Bush took office in 2001, the relatively few companies that earn their revenues as collectors at the citation-information tollbooths gained more political clout than those relatively more numerous organizations that profit from the free flow of citation information. As a result, in the fall of 2002 PubScience was discontinued--three years after it began.

But even as the prevailing political winds were buffeting one government information access initiative, another one was conceived by the efforts of senior information managers in 10 federal agencies. In April 2001, a workshop titled "Strengthening the Public Information Infrastructure for Science" was developed jointly by the Center for Information Policy at the University of Maryland at College Park and the CENDI group.

CENDI (Commerce; Energy; EPA; NASA; National Libraries of Agriculture, Education, and Medicine; Defense; and Interior) is a working group of information managers who, on their own initiative, are trying to increase the public's access to science-related information created by the federal government. The 60 workshop participants endorsed the concept of an interagency science portal or gateway whereby the participating agencies would collectively serve the "science-attentive" public. The effort to launch was born.

In December 2002, after eight months of testing, the Alliance officially launched its first product: a portal that supports drilling down through a subject guide to science-related Web pages of participating agencies, as well as keyword broadcast searching against multiple government-sponsored scientific databases and Web pages. The portal can be found at

Each participating agency has a content manager who selects the sites and databases to be included in The agencies collectively decide on the subject taxonomy used to browse the Science. …

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