Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Government Shutdown = Cultural Shutdown

The US Government shutdown began on the 1st October 2013. This Federal shutdown of public services is having a disproportionate effect upon cultural institutions - whether in the closure of physical spaces (for example museums or National Parks), digital resources (digitalpreservation.gov) or funding streams (National Endowment for the Humanities).
http://storify.com/juliemmoos/government-shutdown-status-updates
I find it ironic that on this day in 1890 the Yosemite National Park was dedicated in California and here, on that same day, in 2013 the Government shutdown is closing that park for an indeterminate period.

This blog post is not intended as a mere rant against political expediency but rather an attempt to delineate the impact of the shutdown on all forms of cultural life in the United States of America. I would welcome comments and additions as readers become aware of further Federal closures or their knock on effects.

This blog is updated regularly whilst the shutdown continues - see the bottom of the posting for the latest updates.

http://www.loc.gov/home2/shutdown-message.html
I am motivated by a sense of distress that so many commentators have treated the closure of museums, libraries, archives and parks (for instance) as minor inconveniences compared to other closures. This purely instrumentalist view of Federal services forgets the deep digital presence of these cultural institutions or their physical significance to a very wide community.
http://storify.com/juliemmoos/government-shutdown-status-updates

Resources and Shutdown Services

THe US government shutdown is interrupting services and jeopardizing the paychecks of more than 800,000 federal workers. It is estimated it will cost $320 million per day of closure. Here are some resources that list what is closed and the effect that is having.
A list of Federal Libraries and Archives

A list of Federal and Smithsonian art and cultural museums

The Smithsonian's contingency plan (PDF) 3,514 employees furloughed.

A list of Historic Places and Preservation such as the Federal Agency Historic Preservation Offices

A list of Family History and Genealogy

National Parks - the core site is down and directs us to the DOI

The Department of the Interior's contingency plan covering the National Parks

Funding agencies such as the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and Arts (NEA), Kids Arts website, Kids Music Website, etc.



FAQ: How would a government shutdown impact federal workers?

Notes:

Thanks to     and  for getting me started.

Each day I will try to add more resources as information comes to light. If you want to add content then send me ideas or just comment below.

Update from suse cairns @shineslike 

Library Services Impacted by Government Shutdown
  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is closed and will be unable to disperse grants and funds to libraries as part of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).
  • U.S. Census websites and collection surveys will be unavailable until the government is funded.
  • The Government Printing Office (GPO) is closed. Gpo.gov will not be updated during the shutdown. Federal Register services will continue in a limited capacity.
  • The Library of Congress will be closed to the public and researchers for the duration of the shutdown.

Update from Gareth Knight 

"Many sites are displaying messages that say that they are not being updated or maintained during the government shut down, and the following sites are some who have shut their doors today.  Clicking the logos will take you to a Wayback Machine archived capture of the site."


Update 2/10/2013

Shutdown of US government websites appears bafflingly arbitrary
"We have now conducted a more thorough examination of 50-plus different .gov websites. In the chart below, we have highlighted whether they are up or down, and what, if any, notice they are giving to their visitors."

Update 3/10/2013

Some interesting stuff is coming to light from people's experiences. I wont quote names here to save folks from any issues that may arise but some thoughts expressed to me or seen on social media etc. include:

US Holocaust Memory Museum
"I can say that US HMM is closed. Last news was amusement about an 'orderly shutdown' of Holocaust memory..." (anon - but not USHMM staff)

http://www.ushmm.org/copyright-and-legal-information/closure-plan

Library of Congress, NIST NSRL, Copyright Office

"Comment 1: LC's site being down of course means digitalpreservation.gov is down. F*******. Republicans, you're making me mad!

Reply 1: And the copyright office. There was exactly one day when one could get at the small claims tribunal recommendation. Argh.


Reply 2: It's not broken, it's off on purpose. We were told to take down our web properties because there is no one to support them while we're shut down.

Reply 3: METS, MODS, etc., schema definitions are not available, and id.loc.gov ... the list goes on... The digital library I work on isn't entirely broken but certain things don't work right now... very sorry for the people who are furloughed -- I'm so grateful to you when you are keeping these sites and their data up and running -- we really depend on you. Hoping this furlough ends very soon.

Reply 4: Same is true of NIST NSRL, so our project is basically at a standstill."



One Nation Under Shutdown by Sam Stein & Jason Cherkis
You can get details of the State by State situation. But I highlight here a few culturally related items:

  • The Clinton Presidential Center closed permanent exhibits to walk-in visitors.
  • The George W. Bush Library and Lyndon B. Johnson's presidential libraries were closed.
  • Movie production was suspended in Angeles National Forest, the L.A. River, the Sepulveda Dam and the West Lost Angeles Veterans Administration Medical Center
  • Hoosier National Forest closed campgrounds and furloughed 45 staffers.
  • The Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site was closed
  • The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge center closed its sites and locked its gates.
  • The Columbia Environmental Research Center -- a U.S. Geological Survey research facility -- was closed.
  • Glacier and Yellowstone national parks were closed to visitors. Those already at the parks were told to leave by Thursday.
  • The Gettysburg National Military Park was closed, including the historic battlefield.

More on Digital Preservation
Barbara Sierman, Manager Digital Preservation Research at Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands made this comment to the blog and I have pulled it into the core text as it is worth repeating here:
"It would be interesting to see which information on the US government related part of the web the digital preservation community needed and was not able to see during this shutdown. I’m thinking of small, daily activities like a Signal issue you wanted to read back, just look up the 5 preservation levels that NDSA has started or looking up the information about a certain file format in the LoC registry. As digital preservationists we are trying to mitigate the risks related to our own digital collections. Does not the current event show that we, as a digital preservation community, have not thought enough about mitigating the risk of unavailable resources that are vital for our work? Do we need more mirror sites of vital information in different places of the world?"

About Barbara:


Illtud Daniel, Head of ICT at the National Library of Wales sent this very helpful tweet  and comment also:

it's also going to break a whole lot of automated workflows etc in library/digihum. Check these schemas

"10 years ago the Digital Preservation community worried about formats. Since then I haven't had a single format go bad, but the schemas that we've relied upon to describe and structure the resources and hold preservation metadata have broken more than once. These are now the weak links in our digital preservation."

About Illtud:

The Government Shutdown and Libraries by George M. Eberhart

The American Libraries Magazine gives great coverage of the shutdown.
Thanks to    for bringing this to my attention.
  • The Library of Congress buildings are closed to the public, and its website is inaccessible, except for THOMASCongress.gov, and Cataloger’s Desktop. However, the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine still offers access to LC and other agencies before their websites went dark.
  • The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is closed.
  • All federally funded presidential libraries and all National Archives facilities are closed (except for the Federal Records Centers and the Federal Register).
  • The Smithsonian and other federal museums and galleries are closed.
  • Federal agencies are not engaging in social media, and federal workers are barred from reading their email during the shutdown. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) cautioned that online filing and receipt of surface mail is suspended and that filing deadlines are extended until the day after the shutdown ends.
  • ERIC is searchable on EBSCO, but links pointing to eric.ed.gov are inaccessible. However, G5, the Education Department’s grants management system, is up and running.
  • The Universal Service Administrative Corporation, which manages the e-rate program is not a federal agency and is not directly impacted by the shutdown. But, since the FCC hears e-rate appeals by applicants, this activity will be suspended until the shutdown ends, Wisconsin State E-rate Support Manager Bob Bocher toldAmerican Libraries. Also, a major e-rate program review by the FCC has halted for the time being. 
  • District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray declared (PDF file) all municipal departments in the District to be essential, including the District of Columbia public libraries, thus evading the shutdown crisis there.
  • A decision in the Authors Guild v. Google Books lawsuit, where fair-use principles in the digital world hang in the balance, could be delayed if the shutdown lasts for more than 14 days, after which the federal court system is expected to close for lack of operating funds.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education described September 30 how a prolonged shutdown would affect academe.

Update from Ellice Engdahl  

"With the Library of Congress website down, The Henry Ford has lost access to LOC's name authorities, which we use for cataloging our collections. We've transferred previously used terms to our collections management system, so have easy access to terms we've previously used, but we're having to use fairly ancient print volumes to find new subject terms--and the print volumes don't even cover person and organization names. We're trying to find alternatives, but I imagine this is causing difficulties for many folks--a West Coast public librarian friend told me she was also feeling the absence of the site. (The Wayback Machine doesn't help here, as the site wasn't fully crawled, so the bits we need aren't available.)
If this goes on for a while, this could impact the collections items we make public through our digitization project...."

The Cost of the Shutdown

Link here to the New York Times
"The two most recent shutdowns, in 1995 and 1996, cost the Treasury $1.4 billion over 26 days, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget, the equivalent of $2.1 billion in today’s dollars."
"The research firm IHS Inc. estimates that the shutdown will cost the country $300 million a day in lost economic output. That average will probably grow if the impasse continues, as more agencies run out of saved funds and receive no new appropriations.Moody’s Analytics estimated that a shutdown of three or four weeks would cut 1.4 percentage points from fourth-quarter economic growth and raise the unemployment rate."

The shutdown hits the West harder

Link here to the High Country News
"Every Western state has a higher percentage of federal employees than the nation as a whole, many of whom have now been furloughed... Like it or not, Westerners are dependent on the federal government, and our economies depend on federal spending."

Limited Services Provided by Indian Affairs During Government Shutdown

Link here
Patty Dean, Director of Community Preservation at Montana Preservation Alliance brought to my attention the important issue of the effect the shutdown will have on "Indian Country", an already impoverished peoples.

About Patty Deanhttp://www.preservemontana.org/board.html
Patty gave me permission to repeat her message that gave me the above content:
"Your statement about the shutdown's impact on the US' cultural life is correct but the American West is being particularly affected, see http://www.hcn.org/blogs/goat/the-shutdown-hits-the-west-harder given how many national parks & federal public lands there are out here & how many small businesses in the gateway communities to these national treasures will experience financial hardships--esp those near Yosemite who were already suffering due to the Rim wildfire that curtailed visitation. At my own statewide nonprofit preservation alliance this morning we were to have a phone conference with Bureau of Land Mgmt (US Dept of Interior) & US Forest Service colleagues to do more planning for a May 2014 regional tour/conference in central Montana. Due to the shutdown, we most likely will be missing the vital input of these two colleagues...& who knows how long the shutdown will last? But perhaps more importantly however, is the effect the shutdown will have on "Indian Country" out here, an already impoverished peoples, http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/10/02/limited-services-provided-indian-affairs-during-government-shutdown-151558"


Update 5/10/2013

Library of Congress re-opens loc.gov

The text from the LoC news site states:

"News from the Library of Congress
October 1, 2013 (REVISED October 3, 2013)
Federal Government Shutdown
Due to the temporary shutdown of the federal government, all Library buildings are closed, all public events are canceled, and all inquiries and requests to the Library of Congress web-based services will not be received or responded to until the shutdown ends.

Information on loc.gov is not being updated.


Copyright.gov, THOMAS.gov and Congress.gov are all available.


A Note to loc.gov Users

Ahead of the temporary shutdown of the federal government, the Library alerted patrons that Library websites, except the legislative information sites THOMAS.gov and beta.congress.gov, would be inaccessible in the event of a shutdown.
The Library has restored access to all sites in addition to our legislative information sites. Other legislative branch agencies, and many executive branch agencies with information functions similar to the Library, are granting public access as well."


T. rex is shutdown's latest victim

From Jennifer Howard @JenHoward
Latest victim of the #shutdown: the T. Rex that was supposed to come to DC.

More information on the closed war memorials

Interesting article in the Washington Post about closed war memorials and veterans.


Update 7/10/2013

The National Park Service web catalog is up. http://museum.nps.gov

Save our preservation tool kit!


"On Oct. 16, the museum is set to receive a rare, nearly intact Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, which is on loan for 50 years from a museum in Montana. If the shutdown drags on for weeks, as it did in 1995 and 1996, the 38-foot-long, seven-ton T-Rex may have to stay out West a little longer before making the trip."

"National Portrait Gallery, museum executives fret that a shutdown will interrupt the rollout of their newest exhibition, “Dancing the Dream.”"

"A bit of shutdown fatigue is already visible among people who work at the national museums and institutions. “Oh God, the shutdown,” Linda St. Thomas, the chief spokeswoman for the Smithsonian Institution, sighed when told that the subject of this article was how Washington’s museums would cope."

Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects (PDF)
Clinton T. Brass, Coordinator, Congressional Research Service, September 25, 2013

Seeking Alternate Venue for the Kepler Science Conference

Catholic religious services suspended at some US military bases during government shutdown


Shutdowns latest casualties: Chinese tourists at Jing Daily

EU-US negotiations fall victim to shutdown
"This delay is not fatal, but if the US shutdown drags on and you are taking things off the table like culture and financial services, it is not a good way to start," said Stuart Eizenstat, a former US ambassador to the EU."

Privately Funded Museums Stay Open in D.C.

Mural Arts Project 'What We Sow' dinner event transplanted to Center City due to U.S. shutdown

A Native American Perspective on the Government Shutdown

Government Shutdown Impact to Naval Historical Foundation Photo Reproductions and Museum Store

Shop impacted by museum being closed
"The owners of Reid’s Coffee Shop in West Branch met with the Congressman Sunday afternoon. They said they have seen more than a 50 percent decrease in business since the shutdown. The shop said it gets most of their business from tourists who come to visit the Herbert Hoover Library and Museum.  With the library and museum closed from the shutdown, the coffee shop is seeing the effects.
“We work for ourselves, but now we’re going to have to spend our savings,” said shop owner Laura Rierson."

US Antarctic research season is in jeopardy in Nature

Shutdown hits geospatial industry
"The government shutdown on Tuesday has limited online access to maps and other geospatial data and services used for assessing U.S. infrastructure, among other applications. Websites for the U.S. Geological Survey and other federal agencies serving the geospatial professionals have gone dark."

During Government Shutdown, EBSCO is Offering Complimentary Access to ERIC Database










17 comments:

  1. Simon, thanks for writing this. It is incredible to watch this situation from across the seas, and see the social media posts of friends and colleagues who are directly impacted by these closures. I am glad you are cultivating a record of the event.

    I agree that it is distressing that the closures of cultural organisations are treated as almost an inconvenience, rather than a critical or essential service, but I wonder if that is because it is how such organisations are thought of politically in general? As wonderful to have, but nonessential? What do you think?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey museumgeek - pleased to have your comment. I have stated before that there is a sense of the Cinderella (without the Prince) about the cultural sector and museums/libraries/archives in particular. They are essential but often ignored politically. The amount of digital content that is held and supplied through Federal services like those listed above is immense - freedom to access this information has become an essential service in peoples lives just like gas and water.

    It is a case of instrumentalist thinking - the only value is in a direct and immediate Return on Investment. Memory organisations do have an immediate intrinsic value but are slow burn investments, where the return is paid back over decades - the kicker is that the returns are not limited and have a very wide and deep scope. All my 20 years of research suggests that we need these organisations more than ever - the worlds recorded knowledge doubled every century or so until the 19th Century, now it doubles every 1-2 years by our best estimates. Where will we be without our memory organisations?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suspect a goodly portion of politicians would be very happy indeed if we stopped funding things like the NEA.

      Delete
  3. Not only is the Library of Congress closed, but also this and other like web sites are down for the duration. "Due to the temporary shutdown of the federal government, the Library of Congress is closed to the public and researchers beginning October 1, 2013 until further notice. All public events are cancelled and web sites are inaccessible except the legislative information sites THOMAS.gov and beta.congress.gov." I'm having a hard time explaining any of this to non-American family, friends, colleagues. In fact, we can't even explain it to ourselves very well.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It would be interesting to see which information on the US government related part of the web the digital preservation community needed and was not able to see during this shutdown. I’m thinking of small, daily activities like a Signal issue you wanted to read back, just look up the 5 preservation levels that NDSA has started or looking up the information about a certain file format in the LoC registry. As digital preservationists we are trying to mitigate the risks related to our own digital collections. Does not the current event show that we, as a digital preservation community, have not thought enough about mitigating the risk of unavailable resources that are vital for our work? Do we need more mirror sites of vital information in different places of the world?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Barbara - I think this is such a significant comment I have brought it up into the core of the blog post and highlight workflow issues identified around this also with links.

      Delete
  5. 10 years ago the Digital Preservation community worried about formats. Since then I haven't had a single format go bad, but the schemas that we've relied upon to describe and structure the resources and hold preservation metadata have broken more than once. These are now the weak links in our digital preservation.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Simon-- To follow up on my earlier tweet....

    With the Library of Congress website down, The Henry Ford has lost access to LOC's name authorities, which we use for cataloging our collections. We've transferred previously used terms to our collections management system, so have easy access to terms we've previously used, but we're having to use fairly ancient print volumes to find new subject terms--and the print volumes don't even cover person and organization names. We're trying to find alternatives, but I imagine this is causing difficulties for many folks--a West Coast public librarian friend told me she was also feeling the absence of the site. (The Wayback Machine doesn't help here, as the site wasn't fully crawled, so the bits we need aren't available.)

    If this goes on for a while, this could impact the collections items we make public through our digitization project....

    ReplyDelete
  7. As part of the shutdown, not only is the Library of Congress itself closed, but Chronicling America, its database of historical newspapers is offline. The ERIC database is also down. Both of these make it difficult for both researchers and students to do their work.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Standards hosted by the Library of Congress, e.g. MARC and VRC Core, are available now on mirror sites, e.g. http://stuff.coffeecode.net/www.loc.gov/standards/index.html. A few of the links do go to Internet Archive versions of the LOC site.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The National Park Service web catalog is up. http://museum.nps.gov
    (But I not allowed to work on it!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many thanks Mark - have updated the blog!

      Delete
  10. "National Park Rangers shut down a family-owned and fully-booked inn along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina on Saturday, driving customers away during the peak tourist season.

    Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/07/feds-shut-down-isolated-inn-render-employees-homeless-and-jobless-in-one-fell-swoop/#ixzz2h3b0I01c

    ReplyDelete
  11. "Not satisfied shutting the monument even though the State offered to pay to keep it open, the feds placed cones to block viewing areas in the distance."
    http://legalinsurrection.com/2013/10/now-govt-trying-to-block-people-from-looking-at-mt-rushmore-seriously/

    So what really happens when the government is shuttered? Not much. During the 21-day shutdown, less than 15 percent of the federal workforce was actually idled.

    National-security and public-safety operations continue. So do benefit payments, medical care, tax collection, border protection, prison patrol, crime investigation, and air traffic control. The Postal Service and the Federal Reserve will both be open for business because they generate their own revenues.

    Government museums close; people can’t apply for passports; tourism takes a hit. But the Office of Management and Budget, which set the basic rules for shutdowns back in 1981, stipulates that agencies continue to conduct essential activities “to protect life and property.”
    http://www.nationaljournal.com/budget/shutdown-shenanigans-20110405

    ReplyDelete
  12. " The memo also says that non-excepted sites are to shut down even if the cost of shutting them down is higher than maintaining them."
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/09/30/a-bunch-of-federal-web-sites-will-shut-down-with-the-government/

    "In another brilliant move, the National Park Service closed off the parking lot to Mt. Vernon, the home of the country’s first president George Washington. Since Mt. Vernon is privately owned, the NPS can’t shut down the park, so they instead opted to shut down the parking lot at the popular tourist attraction.

    Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/02/seven-stupid-things-the-govt-spent-money-on-during-the-shutdown/#ixzz2h3e5drZU

    ReplyDelete
  13. This a valuable survey and will be a great record of the impact of this shutdown, especially considering the last shutdown was before the first dot-com boom. Thanks Simon!

    ReplyDelete