PEGI's #DataValentine for #LoveDataMonth

February 14, 2018

Dear data,

It’s not you, it’s us. :-) You’ve never asked for much, but we think we’re ready for more. We’re ready for a bigger commitment, to take things to another preservation level!

Government information has always included data, but we haven’t treated you too great in the past. We know, and we’re sorry. There’s so much government information out there to explore, collect, describe, and preserve -- and so often we’ve reached beyond our grasp, seeking all that can be found and brought under traditional approaches to bibliographic control. In doing so, we’ve all-too-frequently overlooked the formats that need us the most: the fragile, hard-to-describe, oft-versioned content that embodies what government does in order to inform what it should do.

As government information librarians, we learned to love tables and graphs, printed and bound in volumes that were ready to classify and shelve alongside their unassuming cousins in the publications world. Then tangible media came along, and we had to figure out how to squash you into drawers designed for microformats or music CDs. Some of us pambound you and sent you out to the stacks, to await your fate along with the print materials. We’re sorry about that.

Then everything went on the web, and we threw our hands in the air. It’s all online! we said. What could we possibly do with data, when we can’t even manage annual reports, technical reports, and agency outreach publications?! We poured our energy into identifying digital continuations of print documents, and agonized over who’s pointing to what, and how the next government shutdown would see everything grind to a halt.

But now, we see what we should have known all along. Government data is government information -- and born-digital government information is data. To collect and preserve one, we must consider all.

Data, you bring out the passion in us, and we’re all hoping that as we learn to take better stewardship for public information in digital formats, we’ll grow toward becoming our best selves. After all, taking our relationship from a warm, longstanding friendship to something more serious isn’t a decision to be made lightly.

But we know what you mean to those who rely on you for policymaking, teaching and learning, research and advocacy, and to better understand the social and political and economic and environmental world around us. We want you to be there for them -- and so we want to be there for you.

It’s time for us to move forward, and do so together. We want you to know that we’re ready. Are you?

Data TNG Valentine image from

Data TNG Valentine image from


Government Information Librarians


The PEGI Project

Deborah Caldwell