|Class||Business Information Sources LIS 520|
|Librarian|| Edward Herman, Government Documents Librarian
Lockwood Library (email@example.com)
|Date/Time/Place||October 3, 2012
109 Lockwood Library
Purpose of this guide: Introduce students to government information. Participants should be able to answer exercises 1-4 after completing this guide:
Exercise 1: Help k-12 teachers locate educational materials for their classes
Exercise 2-Locate government information by subject using search engines
Exercise 3-Locate government information by agencies
Exercise 4-Purchase federal government information
Exercise 5: Supplemental Exercises
Table of Contents
The handout emphasizes government information on the Internet because most librarians will not work in depository libraries. My intention is not to minimize the continued importance of documents in other formats. (i.e., paper, microfiche) All mediums ought to be considered when gathering information. However, the reality is that Web access is likely to be the most common method most librarians use to access government information in their libraries.
Play Digging for Answers at http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/students/ideaLabs/digging_for_answers.html. Select any module of your choice.
Who published this game?
Governments publish information in all formats including paper, CD-ROM, DVD, online, and multimedia. The wide array of data covers all topics from A-Z. Selected examples include:
- Ben's Guide to U.S. Government Documents for Kids
- Free Federal Resources for Educational Excellence
Popular Resources for Adults
- IRS forms and publications
- Publications.USA.gov (the former Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC))
Resources for Business People
- FedBizOpps.gov (Federal Business Opportunities)
- Reference Center and General Government
- Statistical Abstract of the United States (US Bureau of the Census)
Unfortunately, the Census Bureau will discontinue the Statistical Abstract in 2012 due to budget cuts.
- US Government Ready Reference Sources (Columbia University)
Help a local teacher locate a free resource that presents an outline of the U.S. economy, both past and present. It should be appropriate for high school students.
Depository libraries acquire government information from governments without charge. By doing so, depositories agree to make this information available to the entire community for free. Lockwood Library is a depository for US, New York State, European Union, and Canadian federal documents.
The United States Code (USC), Title 44, governs federal depository libraries. Nonlawyer's Journey through Title 44: Collected Postings at http://freegovinfo.info/title44 offers a good explanation for lay people.
Federal Depository Library Directory (FDLD)
Locating depository libraries
Locating depository libraries
Retrieve lists of federal government depository libraries that provide names of libraries, addresses, phone and fax numbers, and links to home pages.
Locating government information in the University Libraries
Most documents are cataloged in the Libraries Catalog. Retrieve US documents from the shelves by Superintendent of Document (SuDoc) classification numbers. Unlike Library of Congress numbers that follow a subject arrangement, organization of the SuDoc scheme is by agency. New York State and Canadian documents also have their own respective classification systems. European Union documents have Library of Congress call numbers and are integrated into Lockwood Library's general collection. Lockwood Library's Government Information home page is a good starting point for UB users. (http://library.buffalo.edu/gov)
Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) (U.S. Government Printing Office(GPO))
Indexes U.S. government publications in all formats published primarily since 1976. GPO intends to add earlier publications in the future. Click on titles to view full records that have links to libraries holding the materials.
MetaLib (U.S. Government Printing Office(GPO))
Searches multiple U.S. Federal government databases. The A-Z Resource List cites and links to sources covered.
Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (U.S. Government Printing Office(GPO))
Lockwood Reference Z1223 .A18 (1929-1991 with gaps)
Capen Libraries US GP3.8: (1964-1991 with gaps)
The Monthly Catalog is an index to government documents published by GPO between 1895 and 2004 . The CPG replaced the Monthly Catalog.
Federal government information portals
Business.gov (U.S. General Services Administration)
Limited data deals with Growing Your Business Accessing Financing Beginning Exporting Expanding Exporting Finding Opportunities Browse All Resources. Business.gov is a bit disappointing. Previous versions had far more detailed information.
Cross Agency Portals (U.S. General Services Administration)
Lists federal government Web sites on almost 100 popular subjects.
DATA.gov (U.S. Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council)
Provides access to electronic statistical datasets produced by the Executive branch. Metadata descriptions are well done.
FedStats (Consortium of federal agencies that offer statistical resources through one portal)
The federal government is the largest publisher of statistics in the world. Use FedStats to retrieve data by topics, states, and agencies. Special features include a directory to special access tools, reference resources, and links to children's materials. Use FedStats with caution. 1) Although it has not been updated since March 2007, FedStats is still a good statistical portal, and 2) the menus and directories work reasonably well, but its search engine is poor. See Locating federal government information by subjects below for a better choice of search engines.
Federal Digital System (FDsys) (U.S. Government Printing Office)
FDsys is the newest Government Printing Office portal that replaces GPO Access. GPO adds databases and other information to the system regularly. FDsys includes the following databases as of November 2011.
Data cover multiple agencies and topics across the federal government.
- FAQ's by Agency and Program
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) of the US Government
(A collaboration of 16 scientific and technical offices in 12 federal agencies)
A portal to federal government science and scientific research that searches over 50 databases. Topics on the home page cover:
USA.gov (U.S. General Services Administration)
Intended as a one-stop shopping guide to federal government information. Different sections cover popular topics; featured subjects; directories to the three branches of government; doing business with the government; and a search engine.
Contact Your Government by Topic (U.S. General Services Administration)
Provides data on popular subjects including benefits; children and education; consumer products and safety; law enforcement and crime; health; military and veterans; money and business; and travel and transportation.
Use Google's site: and inurl: commands to locate government information
- Site: site: limits information to specified domains. Examples of domains include .com (commercial sites), .edu (colleges and universities), .org (organizations), .gov (civilian government agencies), and .mil (military agencies). These are not hard and fast rules, as there are exceptions. For example, a commercial site attempting to sell you something might lure you into an .org domain. A search using "site:gov" or "site:mil" limits results to those domains. Be certain to include the colon (:)--site:...
Locate state government publications using the site: command as follows:
site:postal abbreviation.us (site:ny.us; site:tx.us)
site:postal abbreviation.gov (site:ny.gov; site:tx.gov)
Use both methods because states apply each inconsistently.
- Inurl: retrieves Internet addresses that include the specified terms. Internet addresses often include agency abbreviations. For example, the search "buffalo inurl:bls" includes information about Buffalo on Web sites that include bls (Bureau of Labor Statistics) in their addresses. As with site:, be certain to include the colon (:)--inurl:...
Use these commands to locate publications of state governments. In the past, many states followed a pattern in their URLs of the postal abbreviation followed by ".us." For example, the search "health insurance inurl:nj.us" retrieves information about that topic published by New Jersey. More recently, many states adopted .gov. "Site:nj.gov" also works.
Describe the following search: "education new york state site:gov"
Describe the following search: "consumer price index inurl:bls site:gov"
Help a library user locate government information about the medicaid program published by Kansas.
Attempting to determine which agency is most likely to have published the information you seek is sometimes helpful.
Federal Agencies with Statistical Programs (FedStats) (A consortium of federal agencies that offer statistical resources through one portal)
Links to home pages of agencies that publish significant amounts of statistics. Note, FedStats has not been updated in a long while. Click here to see the caution note about FedStats.
Browse lists of executive, legislative, judicial, independent, and quasi official agencies, or search for information using agency keywords or abbreviations. Hint: use parenthesis when searching for abbreviations. The search "cia" will retrieve the Social Security Administration, but the search "(cia)" limits results to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Note, Federal Agencies Directory does not always include agency abbreviations. Consult the following for abbreviations:
- DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms (U.S. Department of Defense. Joint Education and Doctrine Division)
- Find out what any acronym, abbreviation, or initialism stands for (Acronym Finder)
- GovSpeak: A Guide to U.S. Government Acronyms & Abbreviations (University of California. San Diego)
Agencies having particular importance to current events:
- Congressional Research Service (CRS) (Library of Congress)
CRS is a section of the Library of Congress that publishes background reports upon request by Senators and Congress people. This information is not distributed to depository libraries because the federal law considers these materials the property of Congress, not the general public. However, many Web sites provide good access. See CRS (Congressional Research Service) Reports (http://libweb.lib.buffalo.edu/pdp/index.asp?ID=462) for a more detailed description and a list of Web sites that offer the reports.
- General Accountability Office
GAO is an independent non-partisan agency that studies federal spending. It
Conducts audits to determine if moneys are spent efficiently, efficiently, and lawfully.
Determines if programs meet their objectives.
Conducts policy analyses and suggests options for Congressional action.
Phone numbers and/or email addresses of federal agencies
Don't overlook the telephone as a reference tool. It is an excellent one. When encountering difficulty locating or explaining information, get on the phone to the agencies experts. If you have no idea which agency is most likely to publish the information needed, do a basic Google search. The resulting URLs are likely to provide leads. Another option, search the concept or idea in an encyclopedia. Finding the right person can be frustrating, but once you succeed, it is generally usually well worth the effort.
- Contact Your Government by Agency (U.S. General Services Administration)
- US Government Telephone and E-mail Directories (U.S. General Services Administration)
Help a third grade teacher locate "fun facts" about the Hubble telescope.
Locate a recent report published by CBO that discusses income disparities. What is CBO?
US Government Online Bookstore (U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO))
GPO maintains a large sales operation. Be certain to note titles and stock numbers (S/Ns) when purchasing items from GPO. Stock numbers are warehouse identification codes.
Your library Director wants you to purchase a government document that projects education statistics through 2020. She thinks it may be called Education in 2020: A Statistical Projection but is uncertain.
What source would you use to locate this information?
What is the correct title?
How much does it cost?
What is its stock number? Why is this number important?
Is this title available online? If yes, view an Excel file that projects the number of Hispanic students attending public schools in 2020.
Are previous editions available online?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of depending upon the online edition?
Click here to access supplemental exercises.