a KLA Community of Practice

When the days of rejoicing are over,                                                                                         When the flags are stowed safely away,                                                                                      They will dream of another wild ‘War to End Wars’                                                                        And another wild Armistice day.

  But the boys who were killed in the trenches,                                                                            Who fought with no rage and no rant,                                                                                         We left them stretched out on their pallets of mud                                                                   Low down with the worm and the ant. 

– Robert Graves,  Armistice Day, 1918

On Monday, November 11th, a century will have elapsed since President Woodrow Wilson, on that first Armistice Day, called on Americans to recognize the heroism of those who fell in service to their country, express gratitude in the victory secured the previous November, and “to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.”  Twenty years later, Armistice Day (absent Wilsonian appeals to internationalism) formally became a national holiday until 1954 when President Dwight Eisenhower signed House Resolution 7786 into law, renaming the holiday Veterans Day.


Since 1954, we have set aside November 11th to honor and remember veterans, both the living and the fallen, for their service and sacrifice.

From my perspective, doing so in a meaningful, respectful fashion can sometimes prove challenging.  Per the Department of Defense’s Defense Manpower Data Center, there are just over 1.3 million people serving in the U.S. armed forces, representing .4 percent of the country’s total population.  Additionally, the most recent census data estimates that there are currently 18.2 million veterans in the U.S.  In short, this means that only 6 percent of Americans have served or are on active duty,  Much has been written about this gulf between those who serve and the general public, initially prompting this post.  In an atmosphere where the recognition of our veterans (and military service in general) can often be grossly politicized, trivialized, or otherwise reduced to performative gestures; what practices can both individuals and institutions undertake that truly honor those who served?  It strikes me that capturing the individual experiences of veterans and making them accessible to the public can foster a deeper appreciation of the former’s sacrifices and bridge the gap between civilian and military communities.           

Created by Congress in 2000, the Veterans History Project provides the framework and resources to realize this goal through the collection and  preservation of veterans’ experiences.  A project of the Library of Congress American Folklore Center, this program enables community groups, veterans organizations, academic institutions, libraries, and individuals to capture veterans’ wartime experiences through a variety of mediums by supplying interested parties with “field kits.”  The field kits provide forms for biographical information, releases for participating interviewers and veterans, sample questions and outlines for oral history interviews, guidelines for veterans wishing to submit memoirs, correspondence, and visual materials to the project, as well as other useful materials.  Upon submission, these personal accounts are cataloged and made accessible in the project’s database.


This month, consider reaching out to veterans in your family or community and ask them to share their stories with the Veterans History Project.  Through their narratives, we can come to appreciate (as best we can) the personal and shared experiences they’ve endured.

Man on the Moon

July 20, 1969.  Do you remember where you were? (please, no cracks about “wasn’t even born yet”)

I lived in Independence (KS), had just turned 16 ten days earlier, and was sitting in our living room with my parents and brother and our dog. We were nervously watching our console black and white tv, waiting to see the first person step on the moon. One of those moments in history with such impact we remember the details forever.

Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander, descends the ladder of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module on July 20, 1969 before making the first step by a human on another celestial body. This view is a black and white reproduction taken from a telecast by the Apollo 11 lunar surface camera. The black bar running through the center of the picture is an anomaly in the television ground data system.

“Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander, descends the ladder of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module on July 20, 1969 before making the first step by a human on another celestial body. This view is a black and white reproduction taken from a telecast by the Apollo 11 lunar surface camera. The black bar running through the center of the picture is an anomaly in the television ground data system.” [NASA]

Now it’s 2019 and we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of this historic event. Much of the information below is from NASA, of course, but I’ve also added links to other relevant government publications.  In addition there’s a section of links to other stories, collectibles, and items of interest connected to the anniversary…including limited edition Marshmallow Moon Oreos!

Government Documents

View of the moon with Earth on the horizon, known as the famous Earthrise photo. This image was taken before separation of the lunar module and the command module during Apollo 11 Mission in July 1969.
“This view from the moon, the famous Earthrise photo, was taken before separation of the lunar module and the command module during the Apollo 11 Mission.” [NASA]

This is the official crew portrait of the Apollo 11 astronauts. Pictured from left to right are: Neil A. Armstrong, Commander; Michael Collins, Module Pilot; Edwin E.
“This is the official crew portrait of the Apollo 11 astronauts. Pictured from left to right are: Neil A. Armstrong, Commander; Michael Collins, Module Pilot; Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, Lunar Module Pilot. Apollo 11 was the first manned lunar landing mission that placed the first humans on the surface of the moon and returned them back to Earth. Astronaut Armstrong became the first man on the lunar surface, and astronaut Aldrin became the second. Astronaut Collins piloted the Command Module in a parking orbit around the Moon. Launched aboard the Saturn V launch vehicle (SA-506), the three astronauts began their journey to the moon with liftoff from launch complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center at 8:32 am CDT, July 16, 1969.” [NASA]

July 20, 1969: One Giant Leap for Mankind
A NASA piece written in 2017; includes a moonwalk video.

Apollo 11 Mission Overview

Apollo 11 videos
Part of NASA’s Apollo series of videos

Apollo by the Numbers: a statistical reference
by Richard W. Orloff (item number 0830-I)

H.R. 2726 – Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act

S. 1694 – One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act

H. Res. 405 – Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Mission, and Supporting the Week of July 16 through July 20 as the Apollo 50 Celebration Week

Additional items of interest

Neil Armstrong’s quote when stepping on the moon’s surface for the first time
This short article discusses the “a” which may or may not have preceded the word “man” in one of history’s most famous lines.  Technology has set the record straight…or has it?  Not a govdoc but interesting all the same.

Events Celebrating Apollo’s 50th Anniversary

PBS Commemorates Apollo 11’s 50th Anniversary with 8 Days: To the Moon and Back

Apollo 11 Moon Flight Certificate
“personally viewed the launching of Apollo 11 from earth on the first flight to land men on the moon” [Illinois Digital Archives]

Commercial Collectibles

Oreo to Celebrate Moon Landing 50th with Limited Edition Cookies

Budweiser Brews Limited Lager for Moon Landing 50th Anniversary

Fisher Space Pen Marks Apollo 11 50th with Moon-Flown Material

Road to Apollo XI 50th Anniversary


“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on
incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment
among the several States, and without regard to any census or

  • U.S. Const. art. XVI

“Cause from those total wages earned
Down to that net amount that’s due
I feel the painful sense of loss between the two”

  • Johnny Cash – After Taxes

Despite my proclivity toward Cash (and country music in general), I never quite understood the genre’s general antipathy toward the graduated personal income tax.  From Paycheck to Nelson, troubadours pen song after song lamenting their tax bill (in Willie’s case life imitated art after he ran afoul of the IRS).  To my knowledge, there has yet to be a paean to Tax Day.  The closest we get is Henson Cargill’s castigation of tax cheats in 1967’s Skip a Rope.

So, with the deadline for filing individual tax returns rapidly approaching, I wanted to share some public resources that might alleviate those tax day blues.  While your friendly government documents librarian can’t offer tax advice, these resources should get you back “on the road again” before April 15.  And you don’t have to be a country music legend to use them.

Did you know that there may be IRS-certified volunteers in your community able to assist you with your filing?  Particularly for taxpayers making $55,000 or less, persons with disabilities or limited English speaking taxpayers, or retired persons, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free tax assistance and preparation (an overview of what volunteers are able to prepare and what the filer must provide can be found here).  This tool can help you find volunteers in your area.

For those brave souls filing without the assistance of a tax-preparer, Free File options are available at irs.gov.  This site even offers brand-name tax preparation-and-filing software to filers with incomes below $66,000.  The Internal Revenue Service’s website can also answer your tax questions, supply forms and filing instructions, and provide options for paying outstanding tax bills.





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.


In 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War, Commander John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic designated May 30 as a day to honor those who had died in defense of their country.  Issuing General Order No. 11, Logan called upon those who survived to decorate their comrades’ graves with the “choicest flowers of springtime” and arrange “fitting services and testimonials of respect” throughout the country.

Flag photo blogAlthough local tributes had previously been held in various towns, the first large national observance of Memorial Day was held at Arlington National Cemetery May 30, 1868.  Congress would later recognize Waterloo, New York, as the official birthplace of the Memorial Day tradition, as noted by President Lyndon Johnson in his 1966 Memorial Day Proclamation.  For further details on this historical background, see Memorial Day History, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

On May 11, 1950, Congress passed a Joint Resolution “requesting the President to issue a proclamation designating May 30, Memorial Day, as a day for a Nation-wide prayer for peace.”  Public Law 512.  With the enactment of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, effective January 1, 1971, Memorial Day was recognized as a legal public holiday to be observed the last Monday in May.

36 U.S. Code § 116  provides that the President will issue a proclamation each year:

(1) calling on the people of the United States to observe Memorial Day by praying, according to their individual religious faith, for permanent peace;

(2) designating a period of time on Memorial Day during which the people may unite in prayer for a permanent peace;

. . . .

The National Moment of Remembrance Act, passed by resolution of Congress in May 2000 (Public Law 106-579), established a new Memorial Day tradition.  This Act calls upon Americans to pause for a minute of silence–beginning at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day each year–to honor those who gave their lives serving our country.  Setting out to “reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble event” intended, the Act also established the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance, charged with promoting awareness, encouraging state and local participation, and coordinating national commemorations.

In accordance with law and custom, President Barack Obama will soon issue his 2016 Memorial Day Proclamation.  In Kansas and across the nation, the National Cemeteries will observe the day with ceremony, honoring all who have died in service to this country.  As citizens gather with reverence and patriotism, they will pass on these Memorial Day traditions and so preserve the heritage of Memorial Day for future generations.



The first Earth Day in April 1970 was part of a growing movement to raise public awareness of environmental concerns such as air and water pollution, to force environmental protection on to the national Earth-Day-2016-Poster-Earth-Day-Networkpolitical agenda.  Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, Representative Pete McCloskey of California, and Denis Hayes from Harvard took the idea of a “national teach-in on the environment” and ran with it.  A date between Spring Break and final exams, April 22, was selected as the date.

When the day came, 20 million Americans coast-to-coast demonstrated in rallies to protest the use of pesticides, toxic dumps, air pollution and a myriad of other activities leading to the deterioration of the environment. The movement gained such momentum that by the end of 1970 the United States Environmental Protection Agency had been created and the Clean AirClean Water, and Endangered Species Acts had been passed.

Earth Day went global in 1990, with 200 million people in over 140 nations participating, according to the Earth Day Network (EDN), a nonprofit organization that coordinates Earth Day activities.

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Do you ever think about how your right to vote came about?  Voting rights in the United States have been a long standing battle.   The eligibility to vote is established both in the United States Constitution and its amendments.  The United States constitution did not originally define who had the right to vote.  Thus states began defining who had this right.  Social change has brought about each of the steps along the time line below.

1776   Only people who own land can vote.

1787 No federal voting standard – States could decide who can vote.

1789 We elected George Washington President (only 6% of the population can vote.)

1848 Citzenship granted but voting denied. (Mexicans living in territories conquered by the U.S.)

1856 Voting expanded to all White men. (Not just property owners)

1868 Former Slaves granted citizenship

1870 15th amendment passed! Vote cannot be denied because of race. https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/15thamendment.html

1872 Women try to vote.  Denied

1912 Women Lead voting rights marches.

1920 Right to vote extended to women.

1964 No special tax to vote.  24th amendment passed. Right to vote in federal elections cannot be denied for failure to pay any tax.                                   https://www.congress.gov/constitution-annotated/

1971 voting age lowered to 18 yr olds.

2001 Should voting rights be taken away from felons?

2002 Federal voting standards are trying to solve inconsistency.

2006 Congressional Districts are at the states discretion.

Kansas Fun Fact:

APRIL 4, 1887

Susanna Medora Salter is the first woman elected mayor of a town in the United States-Argonia, Kansas.


Register to vote:


There are ten federal holidays in the calendar, as defined by 5 USC 6103, and every November 11th is Veterans Day. This date is significant because it marks the end of fighting on the Western Front of the First World War. Fighting ended at 11AM (the local time in France) on November 11, 1918, sometimes referred to as “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” President Woodrow Wilson informed Congress of the terms of the armistice signed by Germany. As an armistice is simply a cease-fire agreement, the war did not officially end until the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919.

The carnage of World War I had a major effect on all countries involved, for a time it was referred to as “the war to end all wars.” To honor the veterans who fought, the United States Congress passed a resolution in 1926 recognizing November 11th as Armistice Day. At the time Armistice Day was already a legal holiday in 27 of the 48 states. Armistice Day became a legal federal holiday in 1938 (see the Statutes at Large 52 Stat. 351, for the full text of the act), however, it soon became clear that World War I was not the “war to end all wars.” The Second World War began the next year in 1939 with Germany’s invasion of Poland.

In 1954, Congress changed the holiday’s name to Veterans Day, expanding November 11th from a holiday honoring World War I veterans to a holiday also honoring veterans from World War II and the recently ended Korean War. President Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day Proclamation (speeches from Presidents and other officials are available from the Department of Veterans Affairs) Today, Veterans Day honors the sacrifices of veterans of all wars, including current and recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. On November 11th, if you happen to see that it is 11AM, spare a thought for the soldiers in the trenches 97 years ago, when the guns of the Western Front fell silent.

For more information on the history of Veterans Day, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website.

Congressional Baseball

It’s October and baseball is in the air. Divisional playoffs, league championship series, and the World Series are well-known staples of autumn each year.  There is a lesser-known baseball game, however, that occurs each summer – the Congressional Baseball Game. This contest between a Republican team and a Democrat team began in 1909 (organized by Representative John Tener of Pennsylvania, a former professional baseball player) and was inconsistently scheduled until 1962 when it became an annual event. That was the year Speaker John McCormack of Massachusetts revived the traditional congressional baseball game with the support of a new Capitol Hill newspaper, Roll Call, instituting a best-of-five series. Team members each wear uniforms of their home states and/or districts.

Only members of the House played from 1909 to 1949, although there’s no record of any rule prohibiting Senators from playing as well. Senator Harry Cain of Washington became the first when he joinedmizell the Republican team in 1950; since that time both senators and representatives made up both teams. Occasionally former professional baseball players were elected to Congress and would become stars of the game. For example, the Republican team won each year former pitcher Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizel took the mound. In 1971 Delegate Walter Fauntroy of the District of Columbia and Representative Ronald Dellums of California joined the Democrats team becoming the first African-American participants. The first women to break into the lineup were Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Maria Cantwell of Washington, and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas in 1993.

The popularity of the Congressional Baseball Game has helped it evolve into a fundraiser for three DC area charities: The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, the Washington Literacy Council, and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. It is also a hot topic in Congress, it seems.  A quick search of the Congressional Record on Congress.gov (since 1995) using “Congressional Baseball Game” brought up 54 hits!  (pun intended)

Read the rest of this entry »

At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, delegates were assembled for the purpose of reviewing and amending the Articles of Confederation.  What emerged was a new Constitution of the United States, which has endured as our nation’s governing document.  Thirty-nine representatives from twelve state delegations signed the final draft of the Constitution on September 17, 1787.

36 United States Code 106 designates September 17 as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, to commemorate “the formation and signing on September 17, 1787, of the Constitution and recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.”

36 United States Code 108 requests that the President of the United States issue an annual proclamation designating September 17 through September 23 as Constitution Week; and “inviting the people of the United States to observe Constitution Week, in schools, churches, and other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

For further background regarding the history of the law, see Constitution Day and Citizenship Day on the Law Library of Congress website.

You can read President Barack Obama’s Constitution Day Proclamation for 2015.

Here are a few additional resources for learning about the Constitution and for passing on the story of Constitution Day:

The anniversary of the adoption of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was August 26, 2015.  This adoption, 95 years ago, followed ratification by the legislatures of 36 states: Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Texas, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Montana, Nebraska, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Utah, California, Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Oregon, Indiana, Wyoming, Nevada, New Jersey, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Washington, with Tennessee being the last necessary state.

Here’s a look at some federal resources that can help you learn more about this historic event.

  • See the Joint Resolution that became the 19th amendment from the 100 Milestone Documents. This joint resolution is one chosen from United States history from between 1776-1965
  • From 2013, this is information from the National Archives also shows the Joint Resolution language
  • Teaching with Documents: Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment from the National Archives
  • Today’s document from the National Archives-August 18th
  • Topics to research in Chronicling America – The Nineteenth Amendment, from the Library of Congress
  • Digitized photograph collection spanning from 1875 to 1938 of the suffrage movement in the United States, from the Library of Congress
  • Recognizing the 90th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment from the Congressional Record
  • United States Senate history of landmark legislation, the 19th Amendment
  • Historical Highlights of the United States House of Representatives-19th Amendment

“A federal judge ruled…”

“Judge ____ in a recent decision….”

This month’s installment of Tricks, Tips and Challenges! takes a look at current federal court opinions as reported in the news.

Tricks, Tips and Challenges! #2

ACLU v Clapper

Trick: Finding a Federal Court Opinion

Sometimes even the best news account of a recent federal court opinion does not provide enough information. When the news is vague how do you find the primary document? Most likely, there will not be a clear citation; however, If you read the report carefully you can hopefully find enough clues to correctly identify and locate the primary document.  You will need to look for descriptive information dispersed throughout the news report such as topic of the court case, plaintiff and/or defendant name, type of federal court, court location, judge’s name and date of the decision.

Tip: Find authentic federal court reports of opinions in FDsys.gov

The United States Court Opinions collection within GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys.gov) provides a comprehensive full-text collection of opinions back to 2004 for most federal courts.  Cases deposited in the in the United States Court Opinions collection can be browsed by court or advanced searched using keyword as well as title, parties involved, court location, court type, etc. To ensure authenticity, court opinions are digitally transferred from the United States Courts to the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and will include a digital watermark.

Tip: Look for “linked” federal judge decision in the Internet version of the newspaper

Some news media sources deposit digital copies of federal court opinions and other primary documents in a repository on there own website or a consortia repository.  The online versions of major newspapers that show up in “news” results of Google, Yahoo and other search engine results often embed documents into the webpage or provide links in the article to access documents in their repository. 

Over 300 news organizations have deposited primary documents into DocumentCloud which includes: “court filings, hearing transcripts, testimony, legislation, reports, memos, meeting minutes, and correspondence.”  In additional to accessing  embedded and linked documents, you can search the DocumentCloud catalog.

Challenge: Locate a recent United States Court Opinions cited in the news

Open the news article: Timm, Trevor. “NSA reform is unavoidable. But it can be undermined if we aren’t careful.”  The Guardian May 13, 2015.  http://gu.com/p/48p24/sbl. Then:

1. Follow links in the article to access the opinion in a repository.

2. Search the DocumentCloud catalog using citation information found in the article.

3. Find for the opinion in FDsys.gov and locate the electronic watermark.

The Law Library of Congress is a unit of the Library of Congress, an agency of the legislative branch of the U.S. government. On July 14, 1832, an act was passed by Congress creating the Law Library, thereby addressing the need for a readily-accessible collection of legal materials. Beginning with a small number of legal books provided in 1832,  the collection has grown over time to become the world’s largest law library with approximately 3 million volumes covering not only the United States but virtually every legal jurisdiction around the globe.

lawlibraryartThe Law Library provides research assistance and reference services on United States federal and state legal issues.  A staff of skilled American trained attorneys and law librarians guide patrons to appropriate print and electronic resources and/or help them use efficient and effective research techniques.  The Law Library staff also produces online products including:

Foreign and comparative legal and legislative information services are provided to national and global researchers through the library’s Foreign Law Specialists. This diverse group of foreign trained attorneys provides research assistance using the Library’s foreign, international, and comparative law collections. The Specialists also offer their services through the Law Library’s website, including electronic products such as:

  • Legal Topics – provide commentary and recommended resources on issues and events; these topical reports are produced for members of Congress and others but readily available online for use by anyone
  • Global Legal Monitor – an online publication from the Law Library of Congress covering legal news and developments worldwide
  • Foreign and International Law – a general research guide covering international law research plus additional guides for individual countries offering an introduction to the legal system of that country, official sources of law, print resources, and web resources

In addition to the online products listed above, an international cooperative network was created to help control the rapidly expanding body of legal information from a growing number of jurisdictions. Indexes, abstracts and the complete text of new laws are now available over the Internet. This cooperative is the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN), which is coordinated by the Law Library of Congress.

Law Library-finIf you would like to know more about the Law Library of Congress please check out the Frequently Asked Questions or go to their main page at http://www.loc.gov/law/.  Better yet, visit in person!  The Law Library Reading Room is open to members of the public 18 years and older. Just see the website first for the Library’s policies and procedures. Whether you visit the Law Library of Congress in person or virtually, be sure to make use of its rich and unique resources.

Happy April Fool’s Day!  Prefect day to start an new blog series, Tricks, Tips and Challenges! 

Identifying and accessing primary government sources based on minimal information is confusing. Even the most experienced government information specialist can be perplexed!  This new blog series aims to help you recognize and access government information.

Each installment of “Tricks, Tips and Challenges!” will introduce a “trick” that you might face when tracking down references to government information, a tip that will help you drill down and access the primary source, and a challenge if you are interested in testing your new skills.

Without further ado, here is the first installment of Tricks,Tips and Challenges!

Tricks, Tips and Challenges! #1


Trick: Look out for Government Information Copycats!

Some organizations strive to improve and/or add value to information already openly available from the U.S. government. There is nothing wrong in doing this*, but it can be a challenge for users to evaluate resources for authenticity and reliability when anyone can legally reproduce and redistribute government information.

*In general, U.S. federal government information is not protected by copyright. While there are some exceptions most published government information resources are the in the public domain. This enables easy sharing of the information through open copying and redistribution.

17 U.S.C. § 105. Subject matter of copyright: United States Government works

Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government, but the United States Government is not precluded from receiving and holding copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise.

Tip: Reliable copycat websites are always transparent about the data sources.

Only use the unofficial websites for the government information found on .org, .us, .net and .com domains if you can determine the official sources and can trust the completeness and currency of the information on the copycat website.  Keep in mind that official government websites generally have domain address of .gov and .mil.

If a copycat website doesn’t openly explain the source of information and satisfactorily address your concerns for authenticity, currency, accuracy, and potential bias, you should question the trustworthiness of the copycat. If you can’t trust the copycat, use the official source of the information.

Challenge: Evaluate Copycat Websites

Open the following websites and determine if you can find the official government information sources for these copycat sites.   Start by reading the information found in the “about” pages. When you identify the information/data source search for official page using USA.gov.  Then critically compare the copycat’s presentation and use of the official government information source and decide if you trust these copycats.

  1. FedSpending.org
  2. FederalRegister.com
  3. govpulse.us
  4. OpenSecrets.org
  5. OpenCongress.org


 The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) was established by Congress to ensure free access to government information for the American public.  United States Code, Title 44, Chapter 19.  As far back as 1813, Congress recognized the need to keep America informed by distributing documents from the three branches of government to certain institutions and libraries.  Charged with publishing and distributing the documents, the Government Printing Office (GPO), recently renamed the Government Publishing Office, opened in 1861 on the same day President Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated.  For more on this history, see the article “Snapshots of the Federal Depository Library Program” on the FDLP site.  In Kansas, there are seventeen selective depository libraries, and our regional depository is at the University of Kansas Anschutz Library.  Click on the Federal Depository Library Directory map to find the locations within our state and across the nation, around 1250 libraries all together.

Depository libraries offer citizens free access to government information, print and online, historic and current.  As more and more government information becomes available online, key finding tools are the Catalog of Government Information and FDsys, the Federal Digital System.  Updated daily, GPO’s Catalog of Government Publications includes descriptive catalog records for publications issued since July 1976, with direct links to those available online.  FDsys provides access to our nation’s core documents and current authentic information from each branch of government, including Congressional materials, Presidential publications, and Federal agency resources.

One of the Kansas selective depositories is the Benedictine College Library in Atchison.  Benedictine Library became a depository in 1965.  The Federal Depository Library Act of 1962 (Public Law 87-579) expanded the Federal Depository system, allowing for up to two library designations per Congressional district.  The Honorable Chester L. Mize, U.S. Congressman for the Kansas 2nd Congressional district and an Atchison native, made the designation.  Librarian Father Colman J. Farrell, the first priest in the United States to earn a Master of Arts in Library Science, accepted the designation on behalf of the St. Benedict’s College/Abbey Library.  The library met the qualifications:

  • Library holdings of at least 10,000 books besides those issued by the Government;
  • Publications received would be made available for the free use of the general public; and
  • Equipped to manage and maintain the collection, which remains Government property.

U.S. Superintendent of Documents Carper W. Buckley signed the designation paperwork and officially welcomed the library on May 11, 1965.  Benedictine College Library celebrates 50 years as a depository library on May 11, 2015.


The Federal Register

The Federal Register is the official source of US federal government agency rules and policies and is a journal of record for changes within the government. Today, the Office of the Federal Register, combined with the National Archives, the Records Administration and the Government Publishing Office, oversee the printing and disseminating of the Federal Register, and the Code of Federal Regulations. The Federal Register Act, enacted in 1935, created the official daily publication, and an amendment in 1937 created the Code of Federal Regulations.

To learn more about the Federal Register, see the Law Librarians’ Society of Washington, D.C.’s (LLSDC) Research Guide,  Federal Register 101, and the National Archives tutorial.

The Federal Register is a daily publication, generally updated by 6:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. There are four main sections: presidential documents, executive orders and proclamations, rules and regulations, proposed rules, and notices. The official version of the Federal Register is on the Government Publishing Office’s (GPO) Federal Digital System from 1994 to present. Documents are available for users in Summary, PDF, ASCII text, or HTML format. To view available issues, visit the FDsys collection. Print copies may also be found by visiting a Federal Depository Library.

One other way to find information is to visit the Federal Register online. This website contains an unofficial version of the Federal Register known as Federal Register 2.0, or FR2, which was launched in 2010. To read more about the site, visit the About Us page and the User Information page.

If you still want to learn even more about the Federal Register, there is a free video of a filmed workshop available to view, which is broken into separate sections.

From overseas travel to climate change, treaties and executive agreements play an important role in policy and our individual lives.   But how do we find what current agreements are in force or are currently being considered.

First, we must understand the difference between an executive agreement and a treaty. According to Article II Section II of the Constitution, “[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.”   As the need for international agreements and the Senate’s workload increased over time, the need for advice and consent of the Senate was bypassed in the following situations:

  • Agreement pursuant to a treaty
  • Agreement pursuant to legislation
  • Agreement pursuant to the constitutional authority of the President

In these scenarios, the executive branch uses an executive agreement rather than a treaty. Since World War II, the vast majority of international agreements take the form of executive agreements.

To determine what treaties and agreements are currently observed, take a look at the Treaties in Force. The first section provides information on bilateral agreements by country and then topic. The second section provides multilateral agreements by topic.  You can then trace an entry to the original text. While Treaties in Force is updated annually, you should also visit the Texts of International Agreements to which the US is a Party (TIAS) site to see what new agreements and treaties have been agreed to in the interim.


In addition to the finding treaties currently in force, you can also find information about treaties currently being considered by the Senate for ratification.  The Library of Congress provides a search for tracing the consideration of treaties. Once you find the treaty of interest, you can view the:

  • Treaty Document – the executive branch’s communication of the treaty to the Senate for consideration. This might include a message from the President, a message from the Secretary of State, an overview of the treaty, the text of the treaty, and other information the executive branch wishes to share with the Senate.
  • Executive Report – provides information on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s consideration of the treaty, including a recommendation, background information, summary information, and the text of the committee hearing.
  • Legislative actions
  • The resolution for ratification of the treaty, which might include reservations, understandings, amendments, and other changes to the original treaty.

Since this database has entries from 1967 to the present, it is a great place to research Senate consideration of treaties.  For researchers that just want to see what treaties have been or are being considered in the current session of congress, you can also visit the Senate’s treaty website.

This entry is based on the treaty subject guide by the author, which provides additional resources and information.

Written by Nan Myers

Most of us understand the concept of intellectual property (IP), which refers to creations of the mind — inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce. These intellectual creations are legally protected in most countries so long as they have been put into fixed, tangible formats. In other words, you cannot patent an “idea,” but you can apply to patent an “invention,” which is that idea reduced to practice (drawn, prototyped, tested, and not infringing on another patent). Likewise, you could not copyright an idea for a television series, but you could copyright the scripts, story boards, costume designs, original music, and so forth. The rights of citizens to their own IP was so strongly ingrained in the thinking of the United States’ founding fathers that exclusive rights to one’s “respective writings and discoveries” are protected by the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8).

Four Types of Intellectual Property

There are four types of intellectual property: Patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Although there are some similarities and in rare cases, overlaps in protection, they are different and serve different purposes.   Patents and Trademarks are registered with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). Copyright applications are registered at the Copyright Office, Library of Congress (but are not examined, as are patent and trademark applications). While there are bodies of law that support all four areas of intellectual property, there is no government agency for the registration of trade secrets. Trade secrets are just that … secret. It is important to note, however, that while one can register copyrights and file for patents and trademarks, all enforcement of the owner’s rights is up to the owner.

The following provides some brief descriptions of the four areas of IP:

Patents are “a grant of a property right by the Government to the inventor.” Patents allow inventors to exclude others from making, using, or selling their invention. For more information about patents please see General Information Concerning Patents at the USPTO’s website.

Trademarks are “any word, name, symbol or device which is used in trade with goods and services to indicate the source or origin of the goods or services and to distinguish them from the goods or services of others.” For more information about trademarks please see the Trademark Basics page and the Basic Facts about Trademarks at the USPTO’s website.

Copyrights protect the writings of an author against copying. Literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works are included. For more information about copyrights please see Copyright Basics at the Library of Congress, Copyright Office’s website.

Trade Secrets are any valuable information that gives its owner a competitive advantage, such as a formula (Coca-Cola), a recipe (Kentucky Fried Chicken), marketing plans, customer lists and so forth.

As indicated above, two U.S. Government agencies are responsible for registering or granting protection for intellectual property: The United States Copyright Office at the Library of Congress and the United States Patent & Trademark Office. Their websites provide extensive information on the processes involved, as well as links to forms and fees.

Searching Patents

The USPTO site also provides access to search engines for both patents and trademarks, allowing users to begin the process of checking to see if their invention or business mark might infringe on one which is already granted. A useful method for searching patents has been developed by the USPTO: The Seven Step Strategy. You can search for patents from 1790 to the present by classification or patent number. Keyword searching is available from 1976-present. In addition, European and world patents may be searched at the website of the European Patent Office using Espacenet.

You will save time and search more efficiently if you first create a list of search terms and concepts that describe your invention and its components with details of each.  Consider the following when making your list:

  1. Function – what utilitarian purpose does your invention serve or is it simply an ornamental design?
    2. Use – how is your invention used?
    3. Structure – what is your invention or its components made out of?
    4. Effect –  what does your invention or its components do?

While patent searching is possible on the Internet, the searcher must be aware that Internet searching may be complicated for novice searchers. Also, keyword searching is not recommended as many potentially relevant patents may be missed using this method. Searchers should visit a Patent and Trademark Resource Center for information regarding the USPTO’s recommended search steps.

What is a Patent and Trademark Resource Center?

A Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTRC) is a library designated by the US Patent and Trademark Office to receive and house copies of US patents and patent and trademark materials, to make them freely available to the public, and to disseminate actively both patent and trademark information.

Trained staff is available to assist anyone who needs to research the novelty of an invention or of a trademark. Staff will be glad to help with the use of any materials provided to the library by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; however, staff will not perform patent or trademark searches, nor offer advice, interpretation, or opinion regarding the patentability of an invention or the registrability of a mark.

PTRCs are located in nearly all 50 states and in Puerto Rico, including one in the state of Kansas, at Wichita State University Libraries. Because hours of operation and scope of collections may vary, please call in advance before visiting a PTRC. Click here for a complete listing of Patent and Trademark Resource Centers nationwide. 




Today, there are many different government agencies that share information for senior citizens. In 1965, the Older Americans Act was passed, in response to a lack of information available. The 1965 Act was amended in 2006, P.L. 109-365, which can be viewed through the Government Printing Office (GPO). The Administration on Aging (AOA) also explains the act and provides links for further material.

Below is a list of different information needs and topics for senior citizens, along with links to resources from different government agencies. Please click on those if you have questions.

However, this is not an exhaustive list of either topics or resources. If you have an information need that was not addressed, please see if these additional links from government agencies can help you, Disability.gov, Eldercare.gov, USA.gov, and the Administration on Aging.

While congressional hearings are often seen as the “goldmine of information for all the public problems of the United States,” (Galloway 26)  some researchers forget the value of the Congressional Research Service. The first research service for Congress was established in July of 1914. While the name of the service and the format of providing information have changed over the last century, the general goal remains to provide legislative research support to the committees and members of Congress. In the service’s 2012 annual report, the director describes their work as follows:

“CRS analysts work in a collaborative, multidisciplinary environment to prepare detailed explanations of complex policy issues, identify and assess policy approaches, develop and analyze legislative options, conduct legal analysis of pending legislation and administrative actions, provide in-person consultations on public policy issues, and assist with legislative procedures as well as processes relating to the federal budget and appropriations. Analysts also deliver expert testimony before congressional committees, support hearings and investigations, identify prospective witnesses, prepare products on current legislative issues, and respond to specific requests with confidential memoranda. Information professionals provide comprehensive background material on topics of legislative interest and identify and offer authoritative source materials and factual information, including government documents, media articles, and scientific and technical reports, using both print and online resources.”

If you head to the CRS website, you will be disappointed that you can’t actually search for their reports there. Since the CRS does not publish their reports for the public, you will need to rely on collections gathered by universities, government entities, non-profit organizations, watchdog organizations, and other groups. A few good places to start include:

Zfacts CRS Report Finder – conduct a custom Google search across various CRS collections on the web.

Open CRS – a centralized collection of CRS reports that have become public and uploaded to the collection by outside sources. Add your search term within the Google search box following what is already in the box.

University of North Texas Digital Library – “aims to provide integrated, searchable access to many of the full-text CRS reports that have been available at a variety of different web sites since 1990.” In addition to storing over 15,000 reports, researchers can utilize the metadata to fine tune their searching and browsing on the platform.

Homeland Security Digital Library – Provides access to a variety of reports and research on homeland security issues (including CRS, GAO, Federal Academic Institutions, and much more).  There are nearly 16,700 CRS reports within the collection.



Galloway, George G. “Development of the Committee System in the House of Representatives.” American Historical Review 65.1 (1959): 17-30.  Web.  31 Aug 2014.

Independence Day or 4th of July is our nation’s most patriotic holiday. It is the day Americans celebrate the birth of their independence and freedom as a nation. After4th of july months and in the midst of a war with Great Britain for unjust treatment, the leaders of the thirteen colonies declared their independence from the British government in 1776.

Thomas Jefferson, a member of the Continental Congress from Virginia and later the 3rd President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson is credited with authoring the Declaration of Independence. This document is one of our country’s most cherished possessions and viewed by millions of Americans each year at the National Archives.

Although Americans celebrated the 4th of July since 1776, it did not become a federal holiday until June 29,1938 when Congress passed a joint resolution (HJ resolution No. 551; pub. res. no. 127):

Resolved by the Senate and House of representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that hereafter whenever regular employees of the Federal Government whose compensation is fixed at a rate per day, per hour, or on a piece-work basis are relieved or prevented from working solely because of the occurrence of a holiday such as New Year’s Day, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, or any other day declared a holiday by Federal statute or Executive order, or any day on which the departments and establishments of the Government are closed by Executive order, they shall receive the same pay for such days as for other days on which an ordinary day’s work is performed. Section 2. The joint resolution of January 6, 1885 (U.S.C., title 5, sec. 86), and all other laws inconsistent or ion conflict with the provision of this Act are hereby repealed to the extent of such inconsistency or conflict. Approved, June 29, 1938.

States and cities throughout the country celebrate Independence Day with parades, festivals, BBQs, and, of course, fireworks displays. Although each state sets its own holiday observance dates, many places choose to observe it on the actual day of the week. Washington D.C., the nation’s capital, has one of the biggest celebrations each year. Thousands of people line Constitution Avenue to watch the parade and then gather at the National Mall, to attend the

Smithsonian 4th of July DCLife Festival, tour the monuments, hear the U.S. Navy Band,  attend the  “A Capitol Fourth Concert” and finally watch the spectacular fireworks display at the end of the day.

No Independence Day celebration is complete without the flag flagand music. The U.S. flag can be seen flying from porches and street poles, hanging in store windows, covering parade floats and just about anywhere imaginable. Red, white and blue images of the flag are seen on clothing, billboards, posters and events throughout the country. Those flags are flying while Americans are singing proudly the Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, God Bless America and listening to John Phillip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever.

Independence Day is truly the opportunity for Americans to celebrate, reflect and enjoy the freedoms we have in this great country. It’s a time to celebrate!

June 14 is Flag Day.  36 U.S. Code 110(a).  Flag Day commemorates a resolution by the Second Continental Congress adopting the Stars and Stripes as our new nation’s official flag on June 14, 1777:

Resolved, That the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white: that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.  (Continental Congress 1777, 8:464.)

Through the years, citizens and communities have marked the day officially and unofficially.  On May 30, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson was the first President to issue a proclamation recognizing the anniversary, suggesting that June 14 “this year and in the years to come be given special significance as a day of renewal and reminder” of our nation’s ideals and founding principles.  Proclamation 1335 – Flag Day.

On August 3, 1949, President Harry S. Truman approved a Joint Resolution of Congress which called for an annual Flag Day proclamation by the President (Public Law 203).  36 U.S. Code 110(b).  In his 1950 proclamation, President Truman asked for citizens to display the flag on all public buildings, as well as at home.  Proclamation 2894.

During the 89th Congress, a Joint Resolution was passed authorizing the President to proclaim the entire week during which June 14 falls “National Flag Week,” Public Law 89-443 (June 9, 1966).  Then on June 13, 1975, Congress went on to pass a Joint Resolution designating the twenty-one days from Flag Day through Independence Day days “to honor America,” Public Law 94-33.

So, in keeping with tradition and in accordance with law, on June 6, 2014, President Barack Obama issued his 2014 Flag Day and National Flag Week Proclamation.  In the spirit of our early nation, the President urges Americans to display the flag in observance of Flag Day and National Flag Week (the week beginning June 8, 2014) and “to observe with pride and all due ceremony those days from Flag Day through Independence Day” to honor and celebrate America.

The National Trails System (NTS) offers nearly 60,000 miles of trails linking wildlife refuges, historic sites, national forests and wilderness areas. If you think trails are just for hiking, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. The NTS also includeChesapeake photos water trails, equestrian paths and biking trails, just to name a few.

When you’re ready to look at what the trails have to offer, the National Park Service “Visit the Trails” page is a great place to start. The page provides links to each trail’s website where you’ll find a “plan your visit” section with photos, maps, and all the other information you’ll need. You can download brochures or email to ask that a copy be mailed. There are also sections on the history and culture of the trail.

For an example of a trail website check out the Pony Express National Historic Trail site.  This trail goes through California, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.  Or the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail that winds through Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania and New York.  For one that is in just one state look at the Selma to Montgomery  National Historic Trail.  Selma to Montgomery

Background of the National Trails System

At one time, the building and maintenance of trails on Federal lands were the Federal government’s only involvement in trails. In 1968, however, the National Trails System Act was enacted. This began the government’s recognition and promotion of trails, financial assistance and volunteer support. Eleven national scenic trails (NSTs) and nineteen national historic trails (NHTs) have been established by law, administered by the National Park Service, the USDA Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. Over 1,250 national recreation trails have been recognized by the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior.

In addition, Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program and Transportation Enhancements  programPonyExpressTrail photos, HUD block grants, and the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program are supported and funded through additional statutes.

So whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, an historical trip or just a beautiful drive, you’re sure to find a National Trails System location to suit you.  Have a great time!



We recently began the 2014 Daylight Saving Time (DST), losing a precious hour of sleep on March 9th to ultimately gain an extra hour of daylight every evening until November 2nd when it changes back.  The idea of manipulating time (and people’s lives) in this way was conceived centuries ago but has only been practiced the last hundred years or so.

Benjamin Franklin published an essay in 1784 suggesting people get up an hour earlier (and go to bed an hour earlier) between the 20th of March and the 20th of September in order to go about their business in the daylight hours.  He pointed out this would also result in less candles or other lighting being used in the evenings.  This approach wasn’t popular enough to take hold.

In 1895, George Vernon Hudson, an entomologist from New Zealand, presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society that proposed a two-hour shift forward in October and a two-hour shift back in March. There was some interest in the idea, but it was never carried out.

William Willett, a British builder, came up with the idea of moving the clocks forward in 1905. His proposal was to move clocks 20 minutes forward each of four Sundays in April and turning them back by the same amount on four Sundays in September.  And you think changing them one hour twice a year is confusing!

World War I drove the change to DST in Germany in April of 1916.  The idea quickly caught on in Great Britain, the United States, and many other countries.  After the war many countries gave up DST until World War II, again to save energy resources for the war effort.

In the United States, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began  DST, known as “War Time,” during World War II from February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945. The time zones were called “Eastern War Time”, “Central War Time”, and “Pacific War Time”.  After the surrender of Japan in 1945, the time zones were renamed “Peace Time.”

Following WWII there was a lot of confusion in the United States due to the fact that each state could decide when to start and end DST.  In 1966 Congress decided to end the confusion with the Uniform Time Act of 1966 setting the last Sunday of April and the last Sunday of October as the beginning and end of DST each year.

Since 1966 the DST schedule in the U.S. has changed several times:  extended during the mid-1970’s energy crisis, shortened following the crisis, and in 2007 to the current schedule of the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November.

With the Uniform Time Act of 1966 I remember my 13-year-old self thinking Daylight Saving Time was the strangest thing I’d ever heard!  Now it’s just part of our lives and a sign that Spring is near…but I still grumble about that lost hour of sleep.

Still Washington’s Birthday

Although commonly referred to as “Presidents’ Day,” the federal legal public holiday observed the third Monday in February still officially observes and is designated as “Washington’s Birthday.”  5 U.S. Code § 6103(a)

The February 22 birthday of our first President has long been recognized as a holiday, beginning first in the District of Columbia (1879) and then continuing throughout the country (1885).  When the Uniform Monday Holiday Law took effect in 1971, the observance date was set as the third Monday of February. (Public Law 90-363)

An attempt to officially name the legal public holiday as “Presidents’ Day” was made during the 106th Congress (1999) when Senate Bill 429 was introduced to change both the honorees and the official name:

To redesignate the legal public holiday of ‘‘Washington’s Birthday’’ as ‘‘Presidents’ Day’’ in honor of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt and in recognition of the importance of the institution of the Presidency and the contributions that Presidents have made to the development of our Nation and the principles of freedom and democracy.

That bill was referred to Committee, but never passed.

In recent years, Representative Frank Wolf of Virginia has introduced legislation to restore observance of Washington’s Birthday holiday back to February 22 as a tribute to the President; the most recent effort being H.R. 681, 113th Cong. (2013).

An ongoing tradition in the United States Senate is the annual reading of Washington’s Farewell Address to honor George Washington’s birthday.  Who will read the address this year?

To find out more about George Washington and Washington’s Birthday:

While video, audio, and transcripts of this week’s ImageState of the Union (SOTU) message are widely available online, you might be surprised how many places the message is published in official government documents.  Below are some of the main publications of the federal government that have traditionally published the message (some do not yet include the 2014 message):

Congressional Record – as “the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress,” the Congressional Record provides details of the pre-message procedures and the speech itself.  Prior to the Congressional Record, congressional happenings were recorded in The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (1789-1824), the Register of Debates in Congress (1824-1837), and the Congressional Globe (1833-1873).

House Documents – “may include reports of executive departments and independent organizations, reports of special investigations made for Congress,…annual reports of non-governmental organizations,” committee prints, and other committee materials.  As a report of the executive branch, the SOTU message is printed as its own document.

Journal of the House of Representatives – “The Journal is the official record of proceedings of each legislative day in the House of Representatives. The Journal records the result of every vote, and state in general terms the subject of it; therefore, the recorded votes on amendments occurring in the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union are recorded in the Journal, but not the proceedings. The Journal contains no verbatim debate, but instead a rendition of all the official actions of the House, including every motion made and every vote taken.”

Compilation of Presidential Documents – includes “proclamations, executive order, speeches, press conferences, communications to Congress and federal agencies, statements regarding bill signings and vetoes, appointments, nominations, reorganization plans, resignations, retirements, acts approved by the President, nominations submitted to the Senate, White House announcements, and press releases.”

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States – includes “addresses to the nation, addresses and remarks, appointments and nominations, bill signings, bill vetoes, communications to Congress, communications to federal agencies, executive orders, interviews with the news media, joint statements, letters and messages, meetings with foreign leaders and international officials, proclamations, resignations and retirements, and statements by the President.” 

All of the resources above can be found using FDSys.  When looking for presidential resources, don’t forget to visit the White House website and the American Presidency Project.

(Quoted text taken from resource descriptions on FDSys website)

The legislative branch of the federal government passes legislation, and is made up of Senators and Representatives from all the states to form Congress.  The Senate is made up of 100 members, two from each of the 50 states.  The House of Representatives is made up of 435 members, each state being represented based on the population of that state.

Kansas has two Senators who represent everyone in the state. Each person has one Representative who represents their district, with a total of four Representative districts in the state. To find your US Senators, go to the Senate’s website, and search for Kansas. For information regarding the US House of Representatives, click on the House website, and type in your zip code. This will tell you what district your zip code is in, and which Representative represents that district. Since zip codes can be split into different districts, it is always a good idea to expand the map provided to see the street names, especially if your pinpoint is on the border of the district.

Once you know your district, statistical information can be found through the Census, covering age, employment, education, and more, if you are interested.

There are multiple ways to contact your Congress person, including using the links provided above.  However, to find legislative information, including legislation that has been sponsored, or co-sponsored, by your Congress person, Congress.gov is a great resource. Once you are at the website, use the drop down tabs in the left hand column to select the current Congress (in this case 113th), and narrow down the results even further by choosing Kansas from the Members by US State or Territory tab. This should provide you with the two Senators and four Representatives from Kansas. From there, just click on their name to find contact information and other legislative material.

There are also multiple ways to contact the White House, and they can be found on the White House website. The formats range from submitting questions online, writing, or calling.  You can also sign up for email updates through the White House’s website.

To submit a petition to the White House, there is a website for that now, too. Petitioning your government has been a right for every citizen since the First Amendment, but the online version is new.

Regarding state government, Kansas has 40 Senate districts, and 125 Representative districts. Each Kansas resident has one senator, and one representative, who attend the legislative session. Kansas has a 90 day session, which goes from the second week in January through roughly the end of May.  For help finding  who your legislators are, you can call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-432-3924. The Hotline is a service provided by the State Library of Kansas, located in the Kansas Capitol building, and is operational 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday.

Once you know who your legislators are, the Kansas Legislature’s website is an excellent resource to use for contacting your legislators. The Senate roster, and the House of Representative’s roster, have the names of legislators linked. By clicking on their name, one can see what committees the legislator is on, what bills they sponsored and co-sponsored, and their contact information for in session, and out of session.

Platforms to contact the Kansas Governor can be found through the Office of the Governor’s website. Currently, contact information is provided for mail, phone, and email via four different online forms, each dealing with a specific subject. Also, there is an option for requesting open records.

These are just some of the resources you can find to contact your state and federal government to voice your concerns, and to ask questions. However, these sources are directly from government websites, and are excellent ways to learn more about your government also.

This post is based on the information shared during the WebJunction presentation titled “Federal Depository Libraries and the Affordable Care Act” on Monday, September 23, 2013.

Why should libraries be aware of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?

  1. The American Library Association has consistently championed the role of libraries in the disseminating government information.
  2. Over 28 million patrons receive health care information in libraries (Opportunity for All, 2010).
  3. The Pew Internet and & American Life Project has confirmed that a significant portion of library patrons are from low income and/or minority groups.  These groups often rely on the library to provide access to information and, specifically, the internet.
  4. Over 13% of Kansans are uninsured (Kansas Health Institute, 2013)

What should my library do?

  1. Identify the option(s) in your state and the associated websites for the option(s) (https://www.healthcare.gov/what-is-the-marketplace-in-my-state/).
  2. Assess the needs of the community
  3. Define the library staff’s role
  4. Learn the resources that are available for both people that provide assistance and the general public.
  5. Review library policies regarding privacy guidelines
  6. Consider partnering with outside organizations that are provide assistance to the public, these might include non-profits, trade unions, community based organizations, faith based organizations, 24 hour call centers, community clinics, etc.
  7. If your library is taking an active role in informing the general public, consider joining the Champions for Coverage program.  Participants will have the option to be listed or unlisted in the program directory.

Who can provide guidance in the application and enrollment process and where are their resources?

A group of “navigators” have been given grants to provide unbiased assistance to the general public in applying, choosing, and enrolling in health care plans. These public and private individuals and organizations have at least 30 hours of training on program details, cultural sensitivity, privacy & security standards, etc.  There are also certified application counselors, agents, and brokers that can provide assistance to the general public.

  1. See a list of navigators
  2. View training materials used for training navigators and others who will be providing assistance to the general public with ACA provisions
  3. Learn more about navigators, certified application counselors, and agents & brokers

Where can the public go to learn more about health insurance in their state?

First, you need to determine which type of marketplace your state has decided to go with, which you can learn by going to https://www.healthcare.gov/what-is-the-marketplace-in-my-state/.   States that aren’t using the federal marketplace will have special links available from the link above.  For states that have decided to use the federal government marketplace, such as Kansas, you can visit healthcare.gov to look at and compare plans.

How can people enroll in the program?

People who do not have coverage from their employers can enroll via phone, mail, or online.   Online enrollment is the best option for the following reasons:

  1. Applicants can use one application to apply to multiple government services (for instance applying for both ACA coverage and Medicaid).
  2. Applicants receive electronic verification that their application was received.  This means that applicants must have an email address to apply electronically.
  3. Applicants will be able to view their eligibility immediately if they apply online.

How can I receive publications about the ACA implementation?

You can create an account on the Product Ordering page of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  Most publications will be available electronically in the system, so it will be up to the library to print materials they desire.

Where can I get the actual text of the ACA?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act is available online in the Federal Digital System (FDSys) and for purchase through the Government Printing Office Bookstore.

How can I stay up to speed on new developments?

  1. Facebook Page
  2. Twitter Feed

What have other libraries done for their communities?

A presenter from Tulsa City & County Public Library talked about some approaches that her library and colleagues at other libraries have implemented, including:

  1. Creating A LibGuide
  2. Holding Public Info Sessions
  3. Okie.gov – a project of the government documents librarians in Oklahoma

The 2012 list of Notable Government Documents is available. The list of federal notable documents and how to get a copy is listed below. Some entries have additional information on the topic as well as information about how to access the document. If a document is not available in Forsyth Library or online it may be available through interlibrary loan. To see a brief summary of these documents and the complete list of Notable books see Library Journal at http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/06/publishing/notable-government-documents-of-2012/

A recent patron interaction inspired this blog post reflecting on the importance of “color” for organizing and categorizing information and wondering if this will someday be lost in the online environment. The patron asked for assistance to locate the more recent issues of a serial title only to realize the issues were correctly shelved by call number; however, the binding color had changed.

This situation illustrates the importance of color as a very effective information organizational tool. Color, in addition to being helpful for quickly identifying a volume on the shelf, is equally effective in providing descriptive naming in tandem with symbolic meaning to evoke the content’s subject. There are many examples: Yellow Book [business phone page]; the Little Black Book [for noting personal contact information]; the Blue Book [used for college essay exams]; a white paper [policy/position statement]; grey literature [unpublished research]; just to name a few.

There are at least two important Federal publications that, so far, continue to really on a color to promote content and easy recognition:

The Plum Book

Published every four years soon after a presidential election, this publication lists appointed positions in the legislative and executive branch, i.e. “plum jobs”. The title was published for a while before an edition was actually bound in the “plum” color. The color continues to be part of the icon for the mobile app.
2012 online edition:
Mobile app:
http://www.gpo.gov/mobile/popups/plumbook_popup.html .

Green Book: Background Material and Data on the Programs within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means

As the title suggests, this publication  US dollars spent  federal programs.  In the online environment, the background color for the search page continues to be green.
2012 online edition:
http://greenbook.waysandmeans.house.gov/ .

As more information is available in the electronic form it will be interesting to see if these references to paper or binding color will continue as part of our collective information organizational schema. For now, you can recognize some information by its color.

The Dag Hammarskjold Library (DHL) recently launched a new guide to improve access to the documentation of United Nations activities:

UN Documentation: Overview

URL: http://research.un.org/en/docs

In the Introduction the guide states:

The UN Documentation Research Guide presents an overview of selected UN documents, publications, databases and websites. It provides details on the patterns of documentation of the active principal UN organs. It presents documentation of the organs and subsidiary bodies involved in areas of interest to many researchers.

The key to the guide’s success is that “It provides details on the patterns of documentation of the active principal UN organs.”

Helping interested users understand and navigate “the patterns of documentation” is a primary challenge for libraries and one that the DHL met with great success.  Whether you are a novice or well informed follower of the United Nations activities this guide will help you navigate the plethora of information resources documenting the United Nations activities. 

 The University of Kansas Libraries services as a United Nations Depository Library, providing access to paper and electronic UN resources.  We are provide research assistance.  The UN Documentation: Overview guide has been added to the list of resources highlighted in the KU Libraries Guide, United Nations, http://guides.lib.ku.edu/unitednations.

Recently the Government Printing Office (GPO) announced they have signed up for a Pinterest account. This is just a recent step in their effort to respond to changing technologies and the consumer’s use of social media, as evidenced by the below.

Reports about GPO’s Digital Initiatives:

To see the impact of changing technologies on the GPO, one only has to look at this 2012 Annual Report from the GPO, which talks extensively about the change from paper to digital information. It discussed the technology transformation at GPO, cutting costs, new use of apps, XML, social media, financial results and other items for 2012.

Also,this article by GCN, Digital Payoff at GPO, gives some numbers according to the above annual report, and talks about further digital initiatives relating to government transparency.

Another interesting report, Rebooting the Government Printing Office: Keeping America Informed in the Digital Age, examines GPO’s current and future operations and development to become part of the digital age. It was based on the findings of a ten month study done by a panel formed by the National Academy of Public Administration.

News About Rebranding GPO:

This article from the Washington Post, Government Printing Office has New Strategies to Keep Presses Rolling, offers a look at new strategies GPO is employing to keep from becoming obsolete.

This 2010 GPO News Release shows how GPO is looking for new and creative ways to adapt to a changing technology environment to promote digital production and distribution of our important government information.

Some Examples of Social Media and Digital Initiatives from GPO:

Apps:  There are now apps from GPO Mobile that are free to the public and can be downloaded from an app store for iOS, Android, and Blackberry devices.  The four that are currently available are the Budget of the U.S. Government, the Plum Book, Presidential Documents, and the Member Guide for the 112th Congress.  To learn more, visit http://www.gpo.gov/mobile/.

eBooks:  GPO has teamed up with Apple, Barnes and Noble, and Google to convert government publications into eBook format. More information can be found at FDLP Desktop, http://www.fdlp.gov/component/content/article/341-featuredarticles/1257-gpoebooks.

Online Bookstore:  The online GPO Bookstore was launched to provide government publications available to readers. The titles available can be found at their website, http://bookstore.gpo.gov/, where you can find both print books and ebooks.  There is also a physical retail bookstore available at 710 North Capitol Street NW in Washington, DC.

GPO Blog:  Government Book Talk is a blog ran by two GPO staff members, but also features others as guest bloggers. The blog serves to highlight interesting books and other publications that GPO has produced over the years for the Federal Government, and can be found at http://govbooktalk.gpo.gov/.

Pinterest:  GPO has acquired a Pinterest account for all of those interested in keep up to date with information, products, and services, such as historic photos, videos, productions and government publications, using the online pinboard. Click here to access their pins, http://pinterest.com/usgpo/.

Facebook:  GPO launched a Facebook page in 2011, www.facebook.com/USGPO, which features different aspects of the agency and uses it to interact with other agencies, libraries across the United States, and the general public.

Twitter:  For news from the GPO, follow along on Twitter at https://twitter.com/USGPO. In a circular letter from 2009, GPO details their social media integration using Twitter as one point of access.

YouTube:  YouTube is also a way to follow along with the GPO, which can be found at http://www.youtube.com/user/gpoprinter. Here is a feed that lists the videos available to watch through YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/user/gpoprinter/feed.

These social media and digital initiatives correspond with GPO’s core mission of keeping America informed, and making information accessible and available to all users, in all forms. Feel free to check some of the links out, if you haven’t already.

IRS Tax Map


The National Technical Information Service (NTIS) sells a 2012 Tax form cd from the IRS for $30.  This same information is available free if you use the online 2012 Tax Map.  It’s a useful tool that helps you locate tax forms and publications by subject instead of by form number.  The Tax Map index is arranged alphabetically.  If you want tax forms or publications about investments click on the “I” for a listing.  Some forms and publications forms are shown for informational purposes and may not be used when filing taxes.  These forms carry notices on them when they are listed only for informational purposes but may not be used when filing taxes.

Of course, tax forms and publications are also available on the IRS website.



Importance: With the sunset of GPO Access in 2010, FDsys has become the central tool to provide access to, management of, and preservation of many core government resources.  In fact, over half of the Basic Collection that GPO requires all depository libraries to acquire is included within the database.  Some of the featured collections include:

    Code of Federal Regulations

    Compilation of Presidential Documents

    Congressional Bills

    Congressional Documents

    Congressional Hearings

    Congressional Record

    Congressional Reports

    Economic Indicators

    Federal Register

    Public and Private Laws

    United States Code

    United States Courts Opinions

In addition to core resources, the database also includes a few special collections, such as the Records of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, President Kennedy’s Assassination Records, and the Challenger Space Shuttle Accident Selected Congressional Hearings and Reports.

Tutorial Page: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsysinfo/instructional_video.htm (GPO)

American FactFinder 2

Importance: While electronic versions of the decennial census are available elsewhere on the Census Bureau website, American FactFinder 2 attempts to simplify the research experience for the general public.  In addition to Decennial Census information, the platform is also used to access:

The American Community Survey

The American Housing Survey

Annual Survey of Manufactures

Business Patterns

Nonemployer Statistics

The Decennial Census of the Island Areas

The Economic Census

The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Tabulation

The Population Estimates Program

The Puerto Rico Community Survey

Fresh off another update in January (following a complete overhaul in 2011), its worth re-familiarizing yourself with the altered interface.

Tutorial Page: http://factfinder2.census.gov/help/en/american_factfinder_help.htm# (Census Bureau – click on Tutorials in the Table of Contents and choose where to begin)


Importance: Since 1995, Thomas has served as the main access point for federal legislation.   In addition to text of legislation, the database includes a wealth of data about the legislative process of each bill and documentation that accompanies that process.

Tutorial Page:  http://www.bakeru.edu/library/InfoLit/Thomas/Thomas.htm (Baker University)

Catalog of Government Publications

Importance: The Catalog of Government Publications remains the most comprehensive tool to search the publications of GPO since 1976, including permanent links to electronic access points.

Tutorial Page: http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS93651 (GPO)

A Feb. 5th AP article, Conn. Congressman Sees Factual Flaw in ‘Lincoln‘ reported that Representative Joe Courtney questioned the accuracy of the scene in the recent Steven Spielberg film, Lincoln, which depicted “two Connecticut Congressmen vote against the 13th Amendment, outlawing slavery.” As an individual he first searched the Internet for information and later as a member of Congress he turned to the information professionals and authoritative resources at his disposal, specifically Representative Joe Courtney “asked the Congressional Research Service (CRS) to investigate”.

 The CRS was definitely able to provide an authoritative answer; however, he could have accessed the primary information via a library, including a Federal Depository Library (FDL).  As noted on the FDLP information page,

 Since 1813, depository libraries have safeguarded the public’s right to know by collecting, organizing, maintaining, preserving, and assisting users with information from the Federal Government. Depository libraries provide local, no-fee access to Government information in an impartial environment with professional assistance.

 There a few different primary sources that could be consulted to better understand the events of the day, one of which is the Journal of the House of Representative of the United States.    This publication, summarizing the actions taken by the House actions, is required by the Constitution and was among the first federal document publication distributed in depository libraries. 

 Using the House Journal for the 38th Congress, 2nd Session you can determine the names of the four representatives from Connecticut, which were recorded at the beginning of the session: Henry C. Deming, James E. English, Augustus Brandegee, and John H. Hubbard. The summary minutes of Tuesday, January 31, 1865, (pages 167-171) provide the voting record.  There were three recorded votes on January 31, 1865 to decide the fate of Senate Resolution 16, which had earlier passed the U.S. Senate on April 8, 1864.   The first motion, to table the resolution, “was decided in the negative”.  Representative James E. English did not vote while the others voted the negative.   The second motion, to reconsider the resolution (i.e. shall we have a vote) “was decided in the affirmative” with all Representatives from Connecticut voting for the reconsideration of the resolution.  The final vote asked if the resolution “shall pass?”  All Representatives from Connecticut joined the affirmative vote of 119 yeas, thus sending the motion for consideration by the states and later ratified as the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

 So the answer to the title question, “Who has ‘no-fee access to Government information in an impartial environment with professional assistance?’” The answer is YOU!

 To learn more about the resources available contact your nearest Federal Depository Library.

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