By Rosalie Lack, CDL Digital Special Collections Director
Counting California, an award-wining, innovative site, was created in 2001 by the California Digital Library’s Patricia Cruse, with Margaret Low, Claudia Woo, Juri Stratford (UC Davis), Ilona Einowski (UC Berkeley) and Fred Gey (UC Berkeley). The current project team, led by Rosalie Lack, includes Michael Russell and Brian Tingle. The project received initial funding from the California State Library, the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), and the CDL. At its launch, Counting California counted a number of “firsts”:
- It was among the first web sites providing aggregated statistics.
- It provided users with a single interface for accessing a variety of data and statistics about California from local, state, and federal government agencies.
- The site’s innovative use of DDI (Data Documentation Initiative), a metadata standard for social science data resources, resulted in a consistent display of data from different data producers.
- The site brought to light the preservation risk facing online statistical information.
Since 2001, the Internet has transformed the way data, statistics, and other information is disseminated. As increasing numbers of trusted sites have begun making statistics available online, the content is no longer uniquely available from Counting California. Although this was a compelling reason behind the decision to decommission the site, we also considered these other factors:
- Many new sites have been created using newer technologies that provide more robust search and display.
- According to a survey, most of our users were looking for population information, which is now widely available on the web.
- Usage statistics indicate that usage has been consistently decreasing over the last three years.
- No new datasets have been added to the site since 2006, because significant resources were needed to upgrade the interface and backend architecture to stay current.
When the site is removed, it will be replaced by a Referral Page that points users to online versions of the Counting California content.