Kansas Library Association Government Documents Roundtable

Wreaths Across America Day

Saturday, December 15, is Wreaths Across America Day.  On the third Saturday of December, thousands of volunteers will honor and remember our nation’s veterans by laying more than a million wreaths at soldiers’ cemeteries across the United States and overseas.

Wreaths 3

Leavenworth National Cemetery

The story of this tradition began in the state of Maine in 1992, when the Worcester Wreath Company first honored those who serve by donating remembrance wreaths, transporting and placing the wreaths on graves at the Arlington National Cemetery.  By 2007, the nonprofit organization Wreaths Across America had formed, expanding the outreach.  Organizing a nationwide effort, Wreaths Across America has continued to cooperate with family, friends, and volunteers to place wreaths on the graves of servicemen and servicewomen at cemeteries throughout the country during the December holiday season.

For a number of years, the U.S. Congress has recognized this undertaking.  On December 11 of this year, the U.S. senators from Maine once again introduced a resolution which was passed by the Senate.  Senate Resolution 719 designates December 15, 2018, as “Wreaths Across America Day.”  The full text of the resolution is available at this link:  S. Res. 719.  The resolution recalls the mission of Wreaths Across America to “Remember, Honor, Teach”:

(1)  remembering the fallen heroes of the United States;

(2) honoring those who serve; and

(3) teaching the next generation of children about–

(A)  the service of veterans; and

(B)  the sacrifices made by veterans and the families of veterans to preserve the freedoms enjoyed by the people of the United States;

S. Res. 719, 115th Congress (2017-2018)

Podium Photo

“The Glory of Their Deeds Lives”

Activities have been in progress to culminate with Saturday’s events.  On Monday, a wreath laying ceremony was held at the U.S. Capitol and at state capitols across the nation, including our own.  That same day, a convoy with patriotic escort set out from Maine to transport the balsam fir wreaths once again to the Arlington National Cemetery.  The story of Wreaths Across America continues on this third Saturday of December, as wreaths are delivered to cemeteries throughout the country and thousands of people gather to pay respects, lay wreaths, and speak the names of those who have sacrificed.

For additional details regarding Wreaths Across America locations and ceremonies at national and state veterans cemeteries, view these websites :

Maryland Cemetery

Maryland Veterans Cemetery at Cheltenham



August is almost upon us and in the coming weeks many will be squeezing in that last family vacation of the summer.  For most, the annual trek entails weeks of careful planning and time spent packing up the Wagon Queen Family Truckster (points if you get the film reference).  However, even the best laid schemes of mice and men can often find oneself in a hotel room in southeastern Alberta watching their vay-kay quite literally go up in smoke.  When that happens (but preferably before), resources available through the National Park Service can pull your vacation plans out of the fire.

Why all the fire-related puns?  In July 2015, I was on my way to Wood Buffalo National Park in extreme northeastern Alberta to hike and take in the park’s eponymous wood bison and whooping cranes.  Per Parks Canada, the wildfires ravaging British Columbia and western Alberta were being contained and my route unobstructed when I left Kansas.  By the time I’d reached Medicine Hat, it had become abundantly clear that it was time to make other plans.  That’s when I turned to the National Park Service’s Find A Park feature and discovered what Montana had to offer.  This feature allows users to search state-by-state for national historic sites & monuments, national parks & recreational areas, and trails all under the management of the National Park Service.  In turn, each park listing contains up-to-date park alerts & conditions, basic information, an events calendar, and maps.NPSThe NPS also provides a Trip Planning Guide that helps you identify activities appropriate for your group, learn about your destination & become aware of any potential hazards, and pack accordingly.  The NPS website also provides interactive and informative pages for children and educational materials for teachers.   Unsure where to visit or just can’t get away?  The NPS Multimedia Search provides users with a preview of our national parks by allowing them to view photos, listen to audio files, and watch videos taken by park visitors and personnel.

Without NPS Find A Park, I might have driven straight to the Yellowstone Ecosystem (and still had a grand time).  Instead, I spent a eight glorious days tooling around western Montana, getting a guided boat tour on Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park,  visiting the Great Falls Portage on the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, and enjoying all points in between before wandering into West Yellowstone and running into this guy.  YellowstoneAnd yes, the NPS can even tell you the difference between the plains bison that makeup the Yellowstone Herd and their northern cousin.

When I was a small child and would get sick, my mother called good ol’ Dr. Beahm and he made a house call.  For those of you too young to know about house calls, Dr. Beahm (as most other family doctors) actually came to our house to examine me, left instructions with my mother, and often gave me a shot of penicillin or a friendly pat on the head as he left, depending on the ailment.

These days many of us jump online to Google symptoms and see what they may (or may not) mean.  This can be useful if you discover good resources with reliable information.  However, not everything on the Internet is true (duh! as my grandson would say) so solid, verified health information is crucial.  Where to begin?  Since this is a GODORT blog we’ll begin with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While you know they are heavy into research you may not realize a large section of their website is dedicated to Health Information.  This searchable plethora of health information covers topics from handling stress and managing your cholesterol to locating local health services and how to talk with your doctor.  There are even Wellness Toolkits to find ways to improve your well-being in any area you’d like.


Another great resource is healthfinder.gov with its friendly interface, a health quiz, and even “myhealthfinder” to help you know which preventive services you may need.

These websites are the perfect way to begin locating reliable health information for yourself and those around you.  Here are just a few more you can count on:


Celebrating Inventors

Celebrating Inventors


National Inventors’ Day was made into law in 1978 (Pub.L. 95-463) and was celebrated for the first time in the United States on February 11, 1979 – the anniversary of Thomas Edison’s birth. President Jimmy Carter’s proclamation 4635 acknowledged the “important role played by inventors in promoting progress in the useful arts” and recognized “the invaluable contribution of inventors to the welfare of our people” (The American Presidency Project, 2018). However, Ronald Reagan is often credited with the first proclamation of National Inventors’ Day in 1983.

The government resources mentioned below may be helpful to government information librarians seeking resources for inventors and business owners.

Searching for Patents

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides electronic access to all U.S. patents and published patent applications at https://www.uspto.gov/. The website also provides information on the patent application process, a basic patent searching tutorial, resources for locating legal assistance, and more.

Foreign patents and published applications can be found at the European Patent Office http://www.epo.org/, the World Intellectual Property Organization http://www.wipo.int, and Google Patents https://patents.google.com/, as well as other foreign patent office websites.

Inventors and Government Contracts

Small business owners who engage in research and development for the government with the potential for commercialization may be interested in applying for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program funding or collaborate with a research institution to apply for Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program funding. More information can be found at https://www.sbir.gov/.

Patents and Trademark Document Collections

“The Patent and Trademark Resource Center [PTRC] Program began in 1871 when the federal statute (35 USC 12) first provided for the distribution of printed patents to libraries for use by the public” (USPTO.gov, 2018). Initially, these libraries were called Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries and the primary focus was providing access to printed patents to the public. Libraries with this designation today are called Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRCs) as the primary focus shifted in 2011 to providing patent and trademark information to the public, not exclusively print materials. Today’s PTRC representatives provide patent and trademark search training, help patrons navigate the USPTO website and databases and provide resources to assist pro se applicants in filing patent and trademark applications.

Patent and Trademark Resource Centers that were formerly depository libraries and select Federal Depository Libraries (FDLs) that are not PTRCs may have older print, microfiche, and/or CD formats of patent and trademark publications in their collections, such as:

  • Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office
  • Index of Patents
  • Plant Patents (printed in full color)
  • Cassis CDs for searching patents (pre-dates current patent databases online)

If you’re unsure of where to start when helping inventors or entrepreneurs, contact your local PTRC. A map of current PTRC libraries can be found at https://www.uspto.gov/.


Public law 95-463, 95 Congress, session 2, joint resolution: To designate October 7, 1979, the Sunday of “Fire Prevention Week” as “Firefighters’ Memorial Sunday”; to designate October 14, 1978, as “National Jogging Day”; and to designate and authorize the president to proclaim, February 11, 1979, as “National Inventors’ Day”. U.S. Statutes at Large 92(Main Section), 1276-1278.

The American Presidency Project. (2018). Jimmy Carter: Proclamation 4635—National Inventors’ Day, 1979. [Online] Retrieved from http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=31413

Uspto.gov. (2018). History and Background. [Online] Retrieved from https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/support-centers/patent-and-trademark-resource-centers-ptrc/history-and-0

November 22, 1963Many of us recall when and how we heard what happened that day–a motorcade through Dallas, an assassin’s bullets, the loss of a President and its impact on a Nation.  For those who are younger, the story has been recounted in various ways.  We mark another anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination amid recent news regarding the release of assassination-related documents.  What is the background regarding the release of these records now?

The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (JFK Act) was signed by President George H. W. Bush October 26, 1992, nearly thirty years after President Kennedy’s death.  In his statement on signing the Act, President Bush noted that, although thousands of documents had been released by the government, many Americans continued to have unresolved questions.  “Because of legitimate historical interest in this tragic event, all documents about the assassination should now be disclosed, except where the strongest possible reasons counsel otherwise.”  Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George H. W. Bush (1992-1993, Book II)

The JFK Act, Public Law 102-526, provided for the “expeditious disclosure of records relevant to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.”  The Act called for the National Archives and Records Administration to establish the JFK Assassination Records Collection and for each government agency to “identify and organize its records” relating to the assassination and “prepare them for transmission to the Archivist.”  Section 5(a)(1).  Section 5, in part, states:

Each assassination record shall be publicly disclosed in full, and available in the Collection no later than the date that is 25 years after the date of enactment of this Act, unless the President certifies, as required by this Act, that–

i) continued postponement is made necessary by an identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations; and

(ii) the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

The date “25 years after the date of enactment” of the JFK Act was October 26, 2017.  On July 24, 2017, the National Archives released the first of several groups of online documents.  The next group was released on October 26.  The press releases for these and subsequent document releases are available on the National Archives website.

On October 26, 2017, President Donald J. Trump issued his Presidential Memorandum for the Heads of Departments and Agencies, providing for a temporary six-month certification period.  During this time, President Trump has ordered agencies to re-review those documents with redactions, i.e., sensitive portions removed, before recommending further postponement of full disclosure by April 26, 2018.

Additional information on the JFK Collection, along with updates on the further release of documents, may be found at the following sites:


August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), an annual observance sponsored by the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) to highlight the importance of vaccines for people of all ages.

Having our children vaccinated according to the recommended immunization schedule is one of the most important things a parent can do to protect their child’s health. Parents of babies starting at a new child care facility, toddlers heading to preschool, and students going back to elementary school need to check their child’s vaccination records. In addition, students in middle school, high school, and even college freshmen should make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date before heading back to class. Put immunizations on your child’s back-to-school checklist!

Current immunizations are also extremely important for adults. Certain vaccines are recommended based on a person’s age, occupation, or health conditions. All adults should check with their doctor or other health care providers to make sure they’re getting the vaccinations they need. See the NIAM adult immunizations page for more details.


Vaccinations are important for all ages because they protect not only the person receiving the vaccine, but also help prevent the spread of disease.

A media outreach toolkit is one of the new resources available this year to help people publicize immunization-related topics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collaborated with the NPHIC to develop these communication toolkits to help spread the word about the importance of vaccinations. The toolkits include sample messages, media materials, social media messages, FAQs, and web links and resources; useful if you want to share this important message throughout your school, church, or workplace. The NIAM logos and banners page is where I found the graphics used in this blog post; they can be downloaded to highlight your participation in NIAM on your various social media profiles.

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Introducing . . . govinfo

govinfo-next-gen-alpha-logo-118x39  Finding authentic government information just got easier.  In February 2016, the Government Publishing Office (GPO) launched govinfo.gov–the new interface for accessing official digital government information from all three branches of  the Federal government.  Since 2009, such content has been available on FDsys.gov–the Federal Digital System.  The two sites will co-exist while govinfo continues as a work in progress; then FDsys will be phased out.

“Keeping America Informed” has been GPO’s mission since the beginning–providing free public access to the Federal government’s legislative, executive, and judicial information.  With the digital age, GPO has changed, too.  govinfo functions as repository, search engine, and gateway to content, with a new look and easier access from your mobile device.

Here are just a few examples of govinfo‘s notable features and content:

  • Timely subject features, such as Patriot Day and Constitution Day;
  • The Daily Digest from the most current Congressional Record;
  • Quick access to the very latest Presidential documents and Congressional bills–the past 24 hours;
  • Collections such as the Code of Federal Regulations, the Statutes at Large, and Public Papers of the Presidents, as well as some United States Courts opinions;
  • Browseable searching from an A to Z list of documents, from the Americans With Disabilities Act to the Warren Commission Report;
  • Searching by citation and browsing by Congressional Committee or agency Author

Updates on new developments and guidance on searching are included on the site, with links to tutorials and handouts.  Feedback to GPO is welcome during this beta stage.  So, accept the challenge offered on govinfo to “Discover U.S. Government Information.”  Begin your search now–here–with govinfo.