Guest blogger Kelly Seifert, Lead Planning Specialist for GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division, writes about the final switchover from GPO Access to FDsys, GPO’s state-of-the-art digital database of Federal information.
Farewell, GPO Access! GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) is here to stay and is better than ever.
Today, March 16, 2012, marks a momentous occasion for the Government Printing Office and its groundbreaking service, GPO Access. After 16 years of keeping America informed, the GPO Access website is shutting down and been replaced by its successor, GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys).
Image: Switchover notice from GPO Access to FDsys
All of the information the public had access to on GPO Access and more is available through FDsys (pronounced by “those in the know” as “F – D – sis”).
While not the traditional “Government book” discussed on this blog, we at GPO thought it only appropriate to blog about a service that provides free access to a vast number of Federal Government publications. FDsys provides the American public with free online access to about 50 different collections of U.S. Government information ranging from the Code of Federal Regulations to the U.S. Government Manual to the U.S. Budget.
Image: GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) home page, www.FDsys.gov
GPO Access introduced electronic access to Government information
In 1993, Congress passed the U.S. Government Printing Office Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act (Public Law 103-40), which expanded GPO’s mission to provide access to Federal Government information not only in print, but also electronically. In June 1994, in response to that legislation, GPO launched GPO Access.
FDsys takes electronic access to new levels
Even the best of information systems have to evolve. Thus it was in January 2009 that GPO unveiled the next generation of Government information online with FDsys. The countdown to the shut-down of GPO Access began on December 20, 2010, when FDsys became GPO’s official system of record for free access to information and publications from all three branches of the Federal Government. In November 2011, GPO Access entered its “archive only” state and transitioned its status to historical reference archive. From that point forward, FDsys was GPO’s only resource for access to current, updated information, and now, GPO Access has shut down for good.
Image: FDSys Advanced Search results page
FDsys offers new, improved features to find Government publications
FDsys boasts key enhancements to GPO Access that allow users from librarians to scholars, researchers, lawyers and the public to:
- Easily search across multiple Government publications;
- Perform advanced searches against robust metadata about each publication;
- Construct complex search queries;
- Refine and narrow searches;
- Retrieve individual Government documents and publications in seconds directly from each search result;
- View more information about a publication and access multiple file formats for each search result;
- Access metadata in standard XML formats;
- Download content and metadata packaged together as a single ZIP file;
- Browse FDsys alphabetically by collection, by Congressional committee, by date, and by Government author; and
- Utilize extensive help tools and tutorials.
Image: List of collections of Federal Government publications available on FDSys
Links to printed versions of Government publications
In addition to providing free access to almost 50 different Government publications online, FDsys also directs you to GPO’s Online Bookstore, where you can buy those same publications, if you wish to have a bound and printed official copy.
As a GPO employee who has worked extensively with FDsys, I think you will really enjoy it and the new, enhanced features that are provided by FDsys for navigating Government information.
How do I find Federal Government publications?
- Search GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) at www.FDsys.gov.
- Search GPO’s Catalog of Government Publications (CGP) at http://catalog.gpo.gov.
- Shop GPO’s Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
- Visit GPO’s Retail Bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday through Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays. Call (202) 512-0132 for more information.
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what is the difference between FDsys and GPO’s Catalog of Government Publications?
Great question! This is a good opportunity to clarify not only the differences between FDsys and the CGP (the Catalog of Government Publications), but also between FDsys and its predecessor, GPO Access.
FDSys vs. GPO Access
FDsys is GPO’s own collection that includes millions of Government documents that can be downloaded directly for free from the FDsys database, vs. merely pointing to where these documents can be found in libraries or other Federal websites, as is done in the CGP. FDsys has full-text PDF, XML, and Text files for about 50 legislative and judicial publications from the Federal Government, so you can search all Congressional Bills from many Congresses right here in one spot.
FDsys replaced GPO Access. The two web sites were comparable in that they provided free public access to the same materials. However, GPO Access was older technology that only had a very basic search engine with limited capabilities. Here are some key differences with the new FDsys database:
FDsys at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/ provides key enhancements to GPO Access, including the ability to:
• Easily search across multiple publications or collections of Government publications from a single search box
• Perform an advanced search against robust metadata about each publication from a single advanced search page
• Construct complex search queries using advanced Boolean and field operators
• Refine and narrow searches by applying filters, sorting search results, and searching within search results
• Retrieve individual Government documents and publications in seconds directly from each search result
• View more information about a publication and access multiple file formats from a “More Information” Web page that is available from each search result
• Access metadata or information about Government publications in standard formats such as MODS and PREMIS
• Download content and metadata packaged together as a single ZIP file
• Browse for a specific Government publication, and browse within the publication using its table of contents
• Utilize enhanced help options including context specific field level help and a searchable online help system.
FDsys vs. the Catalog of Government Publications (CGP)
The Catalog of Government Publications or CGP is a totally different tool than FDsys.
The CGP is a database of records, and a great finding tool, for all electronic and print publications produced by Federal agencies, not just those printed or produced at GPO. Documents of all sorts, from brochures and pamphlets to books, magazines and electronic publications are submitted to GPO by Federal agencies for cataloging. Like the online catalog (or OPAC) at your local library that contains titles held by that institution, the CGP is the online catalog for the Nation’s Federal Government publications.
As the authoritative national source for descriptive and subject cataloging for Federal Government documents, GPO then creates full bibliographic records for the Catalog. These descriptive records for both historical and current Federal publications include information about the publications, like the title, agency publisher, the GPO Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) reference number, and how to find it in a library near you. If that same publication is accessible online from a Federal agency, the CGP will also give you a link to that.
Formerly the Catalog of Government Publications was available as a print catalog, but now is offered online only through the CGP website, http://catalog.gpo.gov, that is maintained by GPO and is searchable by both the public and libraries. GPO also uploads its records into Worldcat.org, a worldwide bibliographic database accessible from http://www.worldcat.org.
The CGP functions as a catalog and index and searches GPO-created records. FDsys, on the other hand, is a content management and preservation system that is searchable. Content files (and their associated metadata records) reside in FDsys. When one searches FDsys, metadata records as well as the full text of the content are searched.
The CGP and FDsys can be searched simultaneously by using MetaLib, an associated service of the CGP. You can search MetaLib from: http://metalib.gpo.gov/.
Questions and Contact Information
For more questions about any of these services, please contact our Library Services and Content Management Division (LSCM) via the askGPO Service.
Wow I’m frustrated. I’m not pointing fingers at you though, personally I think that its those that aren’t motivated to change.
Thanks again for the post.Much thanks again. Really Cool.
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Can you tell us more about this? I’d love to find out some additional information.
To find more about FDSys, you can visit its home page at
GPO AXES: I saw your birth, but I am still not sure who your father is. Enjoy your early retirement, most of us have work at least 30 years before they let us go.
Welcome FDsys, Thank you for The Father of Constitution., and now, GPO Access has moved on to greener pastures.