Donna Ravenhill, Dandy Booksellers
Dandy’s have been library suppliers for the past 22 years and have specialised in the supply of official information. During this time we have seen many changes that have made the information more difficult to manage. Now that the Public Library Subsidy, supporting the purchase of print government materials, is under threat libraries will have more difficulty finding this content so that much official information will just disappear from stock.
Take ONS as an example. Since approx 2005/06 ONS decided to put many of their publications up electronically via their website. If we look at the following:
To begin with nice user friendly (library friendly) pdfs appeared; then from 2012 a statistical bulletin appeared with data tables.; 2014 appears to have 22 tables however once opened, these contain multiple tables. In total there are 83 separate data tables for 2014.
We spend our day downloading this information, formatting and checking, printing and binding. We have a team of 10 people working on this.
Titles like, Annual Abstract of Statistics (477 tables 4 months work), The Civil Service Yearbook (4 months work) and The Army List take us many months to compile using numerous government websites.
Please also note this amalgamating of data also refers to Oral and Written evidence of Parliamentary Material (all formerly printed as House of Commons/Lords papers).
If you look at the recent report:
Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education and Sex and Relationships Education in schools HC 145:
4 oral evidence PDFs and 431 written evidence PDFs, over 435 separate PDFs were used to make the book.
House Building Statistics and Planning Application Statistics now only have “live tables”. Prior to 2011 a statistical bulletin and corresponding tables were released every quarter. After 2011 DCLG moved to “Live” tables meaning the data is constantly changing and updated. If you were to look today, you would not be able to see the 2012 as it would have been when the statistical bulletin was released. This is difficult as you may look at a figure today and it might be totally different in 3 months time.
We like to offer our customers both hard copy and soft copy. Many of our customers have now stopped taking hard copy and subscribe to our database www.publicinformationonline.com where we put everything up in PDF format. However, we do still get a lot of hard copy orders and believe the demand is still there and libraries should have the choice of how they wish to get official information.
Refer 31 (2) Summer 2015