Print Page | Contact Us | Sign In | Join now
Government Information Group
Group HomeGroup Home Blog Home Group Blogs

Launch of our new blog site

Posted By Stephen Gregory, 02 January 2020

CILIP's Government Information Group is delighted to announce the launch of our new blog service - In future all blog postings will be made to the Blogger service. Please do consider bookmarking or following this new service.

Would you like to submit a posting for the GIG Blog? We welcome new content about service developments, professional matters, reviews of new publications within the scope of the Group, relevant events attended, etc. Please email with your suggestions and to find out more.

This post has not been tagged.

PermalinkComments (0)

Celebrating our GIG Award winners from 2018

Posted By Foteini Karagianni, 15 August 2019

2018 - the Government Information Group decided to make two Annual GIG Awards as follows:

Winner: Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Grenfell Fire Public Inquiry – response team: Adebola Dada; Anna Canning ; Tim Granville; Carol Homans ; Marian Leach ; Annie Parsons; David Smith; Ruth Walbrin

Award: Annual 

Reason: For their highly-efficient role as the public inquiry response team which provided KIM support to those working on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government response to the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The judging panel felt that this was a very impressive application which clearly proved the value of KIM and KIM staff in responding to a major national event. The application highlighted the power and benefit of a collaborative approach to create a "one door shop" to the full range of KIM skills within an organisation. Those involved used an impressive blend of older, more traditional KIM skills (in retrieving old files and creating search terms) with much more modern skills such as social media and maintaining metadata across different systems to impressively identify over 100,000 pieces of potentially relevant material. Overall, this application was seen as a model template for future public inquiry work and an inspiration for other Government KIM professionals.


Winner: Diane Murgatroyd (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) & Karen Ball (DSTL - Defence Science and Technology Laboratory)

Award: Annual 

Reason: For the nominees determined work on agreeing a new copyright license for HMG and their dedicated work to raise the profile of copyright within Government.

The panel felt that this application perfectly fit the criteria of a project that has wider application. The application demonstrated brilliant use of negotiating and persuading skills for wider Government benefit. The nomination clearly highlighted how much cross-government collaborative KIM work had been done in ‘extra’ time by the two nominees in addition to their day to day work which the judging panel felt was admirable and worthy of recognition.

The panel was particularly impressed that the nominees had conceptualized the idea of copyright roadshows and therefore will greatly raise awareness of copyright issues across all sectors of government for several years to come. The work of the nominees visibly facilitated improved information sharing across government and has acted to empower colleagues through better education in the complex area that is copyright.

Tags:  Annual Award  Awards  GIG Life-time Achievement Award 

PermalinkComments (0)

Announcing the GIG Award Winners 2019!!

Posted By Foteini Karagianni, 14 August 2019
Updated: 15 August 2019

The GIG Committee is delighted to announce the winners of the 2019 GIG Awards. 

This year the Annual Award has been awarded to the GKIM Knowledge Management Task & Finish Group for their collaborative work on developing a Maturity Model to support implementation of the HMG Knowledge Principles. 

The GIG Judging Panel were struck by how well a team, comprising 19 volunteers from a range of government departments and Agencies, had come together to work creatively and collaboratively to develop a robust and usable tool which will raise the profile and understanding of knowledge management in government departments and beyond. It was noted that all of the T&F Group had selflessly taken on this role in addition to their busy day jobs. 
Congratulations team on a great contribution to the GKIM profession and on winning the GIG 2019 Annual Award!! 

The Awards keep coming in for Fiona Laing who is the winner of the GIG Life-time Achievement Award for 2019. Fiona was also recently named the Scottish Library & Information Professional of the Year for 2019. Many congratulations Fiona on both of your very well-deserved awards. 

Fiona’s nomination for the GIG Life-time Achievement Award outlined her many achievements during a long career working with government information in the form of Official Publication and specifically highlighted her outreach and training work. Fiona has worked tirelessly to promote Official Publications and ensure that they are as widely available and accessible as possible. In addition, she was commended for her work with SWOP (Scottish Working Forum on Official Publications) and CILIP, demonstrating the significant and highly-valued contribution Fiona has made to the wider profession in a number of different areas. 

Congratulations to all of our winners!    

We hope to present the 2019 Awards at the Annual GKIM Conference to be held in September 2019 in Central London.

Tags:  Annual Award  Awards  GIG Life-time Achievement Award 

PermalinkComments (0)

GIG Visit to Search Engine, National Railway Museum Library & Archive, 16th July 2019: report by Jo McCrossan

Posted By Foteini Karagianni, 07 August 2019
Updated: 07 August 2019

Jo McCrossan is the Senior Library Assistant at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. Following an ill-fated stint as a translator, she tripped and fell into a school library, a corporate library, and a public library, before landing her current role despite being too squeamish to actually look at most of the stock. She recently completed an MA in Library and Information Services Management at the University of Sheffield, and would like to be the librarian at the All England Lawn Tennis Club when she grows up.



When I was ten I decided to turn my bedroom into a railway station. I made signs. I made posters. I made tickets and I bought a blue card index box to keep them in. I sat behind a little table in the doorway and made my relatives “buy” a “ticket” from me before they could “travel” on my “train line” (or, in common parlance, “go upstairs”). This went on for about a year longer than it should have.

Of course, I still have my card index box (a fondness for filing stuff in alphabetical order proving to be just one of many early indications of my future career in libraryland) and, of course, I was going to be all over the opportunity to visit the National Railway Museum’s library and archive.

It’s called Search Engine – let us pause for a moment to appreciate that inspired level of punnery – and it is home to a mahoosive collection of railway-themed resources. Our group was lucky enough to be given the full guided tour by two members of staff, Karen and Peter. Their enthusiasm for their work was infectious and the depth of their knowledge of the collection was particularly astounding given the scale of the enterprise.

The main public area of the library is stuffed with books (fiction as well as non-fiction – yes, there is a copy of Murder on the Orient Express), audio-visual material,and more railway magazines than I even knew existed. Its study space also offers the best vantage point from which to view actual trains (including a replica of Stephenson’s Rocket) in the museum’s Great Hall – unsurprisingly, the glass-walled meeting room is always a hit with visitors.

The archive collections live in a labyrinthine network of climate-controlled rooms and feature engineering drawings, records, and photographs (both official and amateur). I was particularly charmed by a drawing of a planned railway bridge in which the artist had depicted tiny camels (and fez-wearing riders) trotting alongside the trains. There is a huge amount of railway ephemera – publicity material, maps, tickets (none of this app malarkey – the Edmondson tickets are THE BEST and I will hear no other opinion) and every Bradshaw’s Guide ever produced (you know, in case you ever fancied channelling your inner Michael Portillo). It was also very interesting to see the stash of letters written by and to members of key “railway families” many of which date back to the early days of the railways and hint at a not insignificant amount of drama between competing engineers and proponents of the railway…

Lots of the original, specially-commissioned artwork that inspired all the old-school tourism posters is held in the archive, too. Actually being able to see the original painting of Scarborough that is on the print that my aunties have had hanging in their hallway since I was tiny was a proper highlight.

Obviously, I now want to live and work at Search Engine and everyone I have told about it has been wildly jealous. Thank you to Amy and the Government Information Group for organising such an interesting and fun library visit!

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  GIG visits  Libraries  National Railway  York 

PermalinkComments (0)

Government publications at risk: Gaps in the collection and preservation of Ontario government publications, by Simone O'Byrne

Posted By Foteini Karagianni, 24 July 2019
Updated: 26 July 2019

Simone O'Byrne is a Library and Information Specialist at the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. She serves as a Director on the Ontario Government Libraries Council, and is Chair of that organisation's Working Group on Ontario Government Publications. Simone can be contacted by email at


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Ontario government.




Digital publishing has proved to be game changing in jurisdictions around the world. Online publications are hard to track, can change without notice, disappear, and often lack adequate metadata. Collecting government publications is challenging; in Ontario, there are concerns that many documents will either be lost or become inaccessible over time.


Canada comprises ten provinces and three territories, each with a sub-national government. Ontario is the most populous province, with around 13 ½ million people. The Ontario Public Service numbers around 60,000 full time employees, with 20 libraries or information centres. Not every Ministry, Agency, Board or Commission has a library.


Until 2012, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) maintained a legal deposit program that included publications from all levels of government.  In 2012 provincial and territorial government publications were specifically exempted from LAC’s legal deposit mandate. 


Only six sub-national jurisdictions within Canada have a legislated mandate to collect and provide long term access to their own publications:  one is a Provincial Library; one a Provincial Archives and four are Legislative Libraries.  Ontario is not one of the six; left with no legal deposit, and with “published works” specifically excluded under Ontario’s Archives and Recordkeeping Act [1], our publications are clearly at risk.


2012 was a pivotal year in yet other ways. The Ontario government launched a policy of moving away from print towards digital-only publishing. Individual ministry web sites began to be consolidated into a single site ( with an emphasis on providing “current” information in plain English and a requirement to fully comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act [2]. Cabinet Office designated HTML as the accessible format of choice, and alternate non-compliant file formats were no longer permitted. This resulted in hundreds of non-compliant PDF files not migrating to the new site and many simply disappeared. Support for remediating existing files (usually PDF) or creating new files to comply with the accessibility legislation was not available. 

The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, where I work, published an average of 400 reports annually from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s. By the early 2000s print and electronic numbers had dropped dramatically; 2013 saw only 57 electronic (PDF) publications, with just one title produced in print. For librarians, using the PDF file format as a short cut to collection was no longer effective.

HTML-only publishing introduces a new set of challenges. It is virtually impossible to download an HTML page as a digital object or to print it with format integrity [see sidebar case study]. It is also increasingly difficult to define what constitutes a publication. Annual reports tend to retain their publication type in their title and remain easily identifiable, but things like guidance documents, fact sheets, research or scientific reports, are now web pages undifferentiated from splash pages and ephemera. Insufficient metadata makes discovery difficult, and content is increasingly generated on the fly. Publication is now a relatively obsolete term for describing what our libraries wish to collect, but for now we persist in using it. New descriptive terms such as artifacts, ‘content pieces’, ‘content objects’ and ‘content objects meaningfully rendered’ are somehow inadequate.

Government publications should be easy to find, easy to use, easy to share and available for the long term. Government publications are primary source material and preserving point-in-time information is critical to ensure accountability and to maintain the historical record.

What is being done in Ontario?


The Ontario Government Libraries Council membership includes librarians and information professionals working in Ministries, Agencies, Boards, Commissions, the Archives

of Ontario, and the Ontario Legislative Library.  The Council formed a Working Group on Ontario Government Publications including representatives from the Queen’s Printer and Open Government offices to explore how policy and logistical issues might be addressed.


The Working Group established a broader community of practice by holding roundtable events with representatives from government, university and public libraries, and academic and not-for-profit government document repositories.  Just over a year ago Ontario’s then Secretary of the Cabinet, Steve Orsini, spoke at one of the Roundtables. Following an animated discussion he requested a full briefing on the gaps in the collection and preservation of Ontario government publications.


The briefing materials opened with a quote from Adam Farquhar, Head of Digital Scholarship at The British Library:


If we’re not careful, we will know more about the beginning of the 20th century than the beginning of the 21st century [3]            


During the briefing we discussed four main gaps and challenges:


  1. No public or private organization has a mandate to collect and provide long-term access to Ontario’s print and digital publications
  2. Downloadable and printable file formats are rarely available
  3. Many scientific, technical and older publications lack an online home
  4. University libraries face significant licensing and copyright hurdles to collecting and sharing digital content


The briefing was well received with notable support from the Secretary. As a result, a committee was formed with senior executives from the Ontario Archives, Open Government, Queen’s Printer and Digital offices.  


The internal guidance document Government of Ontario websites - Recordkeeping and Archival Requirements [4] was issued by the Archivist of Ontario shortly thereafter, confirming government websites would now be treated as records. The document outlines the triggers that dictate when web archives should be captured, such as prior to a change in government (as happened a few months later).  Informally, we have been assured that archives of public facing sites will be fully indexed and posted publicly over the long term.


The promise of web archiving is a welcome step in addressing the need for comprehensive collecting and provision of access to Ontario government publications. With time, we may be able to rely on a robust web archive similar to the UK Government Web Archive (  However, the technology and business practices for web archiving in Ontario are still under development with no clear implementation date, and publications are still being lost.  Also, web archiving captures web sites, not web pages, so following a collection development policy is not practicable. 


Compliance with accessibility legislation remains a considerable hurdle. Curated collection is thwarted by the absence of downloadable, printable file formats that maintain the integrity of the original formatting. The Working Group’s focus is now on advocating for additional file formats to complement the accessible HTML content. 

Page capture tools like WebCite (, ( and the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and Archive-It tools ( were investigated but each had limitations. Webrecorder ( and ( come the closest to meeting our requirements. is a service built by Harvard’s Library Innovation Lab. It is simple to use, captures a date and time stamped, unalterable copy of a web page, and hosts it permanently. The copy maintains formatting and compliance with our accessibility requirements, but the banner it imposes at the top does not (see a test page at  

The WARC (Web ARChive) format merits further research, however the need for a WARC viewer/player is an extra hurdle to overcome. Archivematica (, an open source application is also under review. If suitable, it would depend on the involvement of developers for customization, and funding would need to be approved.

I’m still optimistic that there is a relatively simple solution. I would appreciate any comments, suggestions or questions. Please contact me at



Sidebar / case study


For many years Ontario’s Chief Drinking Water Inspector’s annual reports were published both in print and as Adobe PDF files. From 2015 onward, the report was only published as HTML.


[figure 1 caption]  The 2017-2018 Chief Drinking Water Inspector Annual Report[5] in HTML


The report was published as an HTML page that meets all of Ontario’s accessibility legislation requirements.



[figure 2 caption]  The same page “printed to PDF”


Printing to PDF or saving as PDF ignores the contents/navigation section, and results in loss of formatting. In addition, the file is no longer accessible.



[figure 3 caption] “Save page as” Webpage, Complete


“Save page as” Webpage, Complete (*.htm; *.html) results in an HTML file that cannot be displayed without the associated folder of 28 files. Different browsers or versions of browsers will render the page differently, and sometimes not at all.

[1] Archives and Recordkeeping Act, SO 2006, c 34, s A.

[2] Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, SO 2005, c 11

[3] History flushed: Digital archiving”, Economist, 28 April 2012,

[4] Ontario, Information, Privacy and Archives Portfolio Management Office, Government of Ontario websites - Recordkeeping and Archival Requirements (Toronto, ON: Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, 2018), unpublished internal document.  

[5] Ontario, Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, 2017-2018 Chief Drinking Water Inspector Annual Report (Toronto, ON: Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, 2018).



 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Canada  Digital publishing  Government publications  Internet  Metadata  Web archiving 

PermalinkComments (0)

CILIP Conference 2018 - Report by Tina Reynolds

Posted By Foteini Karagianni, 07 March 2019
Updated: 07 March 2019

Tina Reynolds is a chartered librarian and knowledge manager, with experience in a variety of roles within professional services firms. She currently works for a law firm. Her interests include vendor management, contract negotiation, value and impact of special libraries, and organisation and workload management. She has previously written for a number of publications including an article in "Performance Measurement and Metrics" and is a contributor to the "Handbook for Corporate Information Professionals" published by Facet. She can be contacted on Twitter at: @tinamreynolds or by email. She also blogs on an infrequent basis at:


In July I attended my first CILIP conference in a number of years (since it was Umbrella, in fact). Over the two days I found myself torn in many directions as in almost every slot at least two and sometimes more sessions, which I wanted to attend.

The keynote session on the House of Commons library covered how the library supports MPs in some depth and was a brilliant insight into the work that they do. A recording was made of this session and can be found on YouTube. The keynote from Samira Ahmed covering the Windrush scandal was genuinely shocking but also of wide interest to all attendees.

A particular highlight for me was the 'Your Career' stream which covered so many points of value to the entire profession. Starting with networking (a session which I was particularly disappointed to miss) moving through growing within the profession and onto the profession itself, I found the concept interesting and the sessions I attended valuable.

The seminar which was of most interest to me and, I imagine of significant interest to many in government, was on Knowledge and Information Management. Whilst initially pitched at a relatively introductory level, in running through the purpose of the CILIP K&IM group at the beginning, I still found the discussion of AI and the KM ISO insightful and was inspired to return to my workplace and make much more effort in the area of knowledge sharing between K&I staff.

On a personal note, as I am working towards Fellowship, the Professional Registration Café was a wonderful opportunity to share experiences with other candidates and to ask questions about the process. If this session or something like it is run again, I would strongly recommend anyone looking at any level of professional registration to attend.

Another session which gave food for thought was a talk by Katharine Schopflin titled "The Secret Librarian", which covered the challenges of being a librarian within a larger organisation. I felt that it was very cathartic to see that some problems are shared by the profession as a whole.

I found the conference to be a really valuable experience, not just in terms of learning but also in meeting and discussing issues with the whole profession rather than just a cross-section. On a less professional note my favourite freebie was a tin London bus from Sue Hill and TFPL. I also very much enjoyed the iced coffee – definitely something to keep up for next year! I'm very grateful to GIG for giving me the opportunity to attend the CILIP conference. I'm often only able to attend very specialist events and the ability to step back and look at the wider library, information and knowledge profession has been really valuable.

Tags:  CILIP; Conferences 

PermalinkComments (0)

Wellcome Trust Library visit write up

Posted By Amy Carroll, 17 January 2019
In November, we visited the Wellcome Trust Library. Cassie Bowman has written this report about our tour.

Download File (DOCX)

This post has not been tagged.

PermalinkComments (0)

CILIP Conference 2018 - Louise Ashton's report

Posted By Administration, 01 January 2019

I'm delighted to re-publish Louise Ashton's report  from her attendance at the CILIP Conference 2018 in Brighton in July. Louise successfully applied for a GIG Bursary to attend the conference. Keep your eyes peeled for information about future bursaries from the Government Information Group.

CILIP Conference 2018

I had wanted to attend the CILIP conference because I was looking for an experience that would provide a comprehensive overview of the whole profession as it currently stands.  In my day job I have become increasingly specialised and as a Chartership mentor I feel it is particularly important to keep abreast of LIS developments.  So I was looking for breadth and breadth was certainly delivered!  The major speeches ranged from the personal and uplifting (e.g. Orkney Children’s Librarian Sally Walker describing the innovative range of activities she has developed to better engage with her communities – side note: I am still trying to work out how I can shoehorn teddy bear sleep-overs in to the copyright department at the British Library!); to invigorating calls to arms for public library activism and standing up to austerity measures (e.g. EveryLibrary who outlined the seriously focused library campaigning underway in the US and Samira Ahmed who gave an alarming account of the impact and erosion of cultural heritage collections due to austerity); and finally to the practical and useful (e.g. Helen Dodd who spoke about her management of GDPR at Cancer Research UK and their decision to view GDPR as an opportunity to be exploited rather than a hurdle to be overcome.

One of the things that really struck me was the overwhelming evidence of the long-arm of libraries; this was demonstrated time and again in nearly all the sessions I attended.  This point was most clearly spelled out by Penny Young from the House of Commons Library who demonstrated that a high-quality library service and the ability to search for and evaluate information is integral to the House of Commons work…and therefore democracy.  I found Nick Barratt’s (Senate House Library) heartfelt talk on embedding academic research into local communities captivating; he discussed compelling research concerning re-offender rates which demonstrates how lives can be transformed by proximity to and connecting with library collections.  Nick also warned us not to forget that library spaces can often be as important as the collections; given much of my own work concerns the digitisation of library collections this has given me much food for thought.

However, the most eye-opening session for me came from Suzanna Joy who spoke about the work of UK Blue Shield.  The UK Blue Shield is an NGO who promote cultural property protection, working in partnership with the armed forces to protect cultural heritage collections in times of conflict/natural disaster.  I was particularly impressed to learn that work is also being undertaken to protect against the possibility of cyber warfare being used for the destruction of digitised heritage documents.

I would like to thank the GIG Bursary Panel for awarding me a CILIP funded bursary to attend the conference and I strongly encourage other GIG members to apply in the future.  The beauty of the conference is indeed its breadth and two weeks on I am still reflecting and drawing on my experiences.  The conference also provided the opportunity to connect with the wider LIS profession and has really helped me to see where my role, my work, and my institution fit into the bigger picture. 

Louise Ashton
British Library

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  bursary report  cilipconf18 

PermalinkComments (0)

New online learning for information asset owners in government

Posted By Stephen Gregory, 14 December 2018
Catty Bennett from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has been working with Matt Beavis and Philip Humphries from the Department for Education (DfE) on a new learning offering for information asset owners on Civil Service Learning. Catty tells us more in this report.

Download File (PDF)

This post has not been tagged.

PermalinkComments (0)

Visit to the National Assembly for Wales Library

Posted By Stephen Gregory, 15 November 2018
Sarah Merton, a public librarian in South Wales, considers the similarities and differences in a parliamentary / legislative library service, and in her day to day work, after a recent visit to the National Assembly for Wales Library. This was a recently organised visit by GIG and we are very grateful to colleagues at the National Assembly for generously sharing their time, expertise and experiences.

Download File (PDF)

This post has not been tagged.

PermalinkComments (0)
Page 1 of 2
1  |  2
Contact us