Kansas Library Association Government Documents Roundtable

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

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