Climatological data will be free starting Monday

I received the following e-mail this week from the National Climatic Data Center:

If you are receiving this email you are a current online subscriber to Edited Local Climatological Data (Edited LCD) publication, Climatological Data (CD) publication, Edited Local Climatological Data – ALL stations, ASCII files only, or the Edited Local Climatological Data, Annual Summary – ALL stations, PDF files only.

Major changes are in the process of being implemented to our online publications and subscriptions access systems. Beginning on Monday, February 13th, publications will no longer be available for subscription purchase. Each of the major publications available from our Imaging and Publications system will become available to all users at no charge. If you are a current subscriber, you may continue to access your data via the subscription access system, however, it is not necessary. You may simply visit the Images and Publications (IPS) web page for access – http://www7.ncdc.noaa.gov/IPS/

Online ordering of certification for the Edited LCD publication will continue to be available for purchase through the online store and a link for this will be provided via the IPS system.

These changes are part of NCDC’s ongoing effort to provide more of our online data to all users at no charge.

This is very great news (and probably about time). When I would renew our subscription every year, I would be amused by the question asking where I had heard of Climatological Data. I can’t remember not knowing about it! Every library I have worked in has had a subscription to Climatological Data for our state. It’s the basic record of weather and climate data for as long as such data have been kept.

This is especially good news when the federal government is considering not keeping or not publishing some very basic statistics that it has long provided.

As long as I’m feeling all utopian and all, maybe I can wish that a freely accessible source of authoritative data could bring some agreement to the climate change disputes. Probably not, but I can dream.

Congressional hearing on e-government

Reps. Darrell Issa and Elijah Cummings — two members of Congress who don’t agree on much — both agree that e-government web sites need to have their funding restored. They expressed their support at a hearing Tuesday.

H/T InfoDocket

In other news, the White House says the federal government has too many specialized web sites, but they weren’t talking about USASpending.gov.

Another update on government information

Census Bureau’s Statistical Compendia Branch

From Library Journal’s annual “Notable Government Documents” roundup:

Don’t count on the Census Bureau
In response to the President’s call for “an aggressive, Government-wide effort to curb non-essential administrative spending,” Census Bureau director Robert Groves eliminated the Statistical Compendia Branch (SCB) and, with it, the print and online versions of Statistical Abstract of the United States and other key reference works. Unless Congress funds the SCB, the 130th edition of Statistical Abstract—one of the most notable documents of all time—will be the last published.

This decision is troubling in part because the Census Bureau’s sole criticism of this heavily used source is invalid. In the “U.S. Census Bureau’s Budget Estimates as Presented to Congress, February 2011,” the bureau justified its decision with the following: “The availability elsewhere of much of the information in the Statistical Abstract has led the Department and Census Bureau to the difficult decision to terminate the program.” That this title’s content is available elsewhere misses the point. Statistical Abstract exists so that users can find frequently cited statistics in one source rather than hundreds. The process by which the Census Bureau reached its decision is also disconcerting. Put simply, the failure to involve librarians and users in conversation about the SCB and its publications is an affront to open government.

E-government sites

Although Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) claimed he could keep some e-government sites going after their budget was slashed by three quarters, the government’s own chief information officer, Vivek Kundra, says “No project will go unaffected.” Read his letter to Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.).