Month of June, 2009
By now, most FGI readers should know about the coup in Honduras.
You may not know that the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange has some resources to help people learn more about Honduras:
- Honduras Country Guide from the University of Colorado at Boulder Government Publications Library
- State Department microfilm documents on Latin America from the University of California at Berkeley.
While not a handout nor in the Exchange, people interested in historic interactions between the United States and Honduras should check out the cross-agency Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Search put together by Stanford University's Social Sciences Research Group and hosted by Archive-It.
Librarians - If you want to use library/govdoc resources in highlighting news stories or themes important to your audience, you don't need to work alone. The Handout Exchange is there to help.
Treaties exist between many nations on many subjects. From mutual defense to copyright to exchanging meteorological data, chances are there is at least one treaty between at least two nations on almost any subject you can think of. This week's Guide of the Week will help you navigate this crowded field:
Treaty Research: Sources and Tips (Debbi Schaubman, Michigan State University, 1999) Last updated 10/27/2006 by Terri Miller.
This guide aims to be a starting point for the most important sources to treaty finding. It is divided into five sections:
- General Bibliographies and Indexes: World Coverage
- General Bibliographies and Indexes: Regional/National Coverage
- Treaty Texts
- Treaties between Native Americans and the United States or Canada
- Tips for Tracking Recent Treaties and Treaty Actions
Some of the resources include:
- Treaties and Alliances of the World
- Canado-American Treaties
- United States Treaties and Other International Agreements
- Avalon Project: Treaties between the U.S. and Native Americans
- Texts of Recently Deposited Multilateral Treaties
In addition to Terri's guide, there are currently at least six other guides on international treaties. Explore them all at http://wikis.ala.org/godort/index.php/Exchange_Subject_T#Treaties.
There is also an RSS for all articles in the Global Legal Monitor too.
Tip o' the hate to Resource Shelf.
If anyone's going to be in Chicago July 9-13, you might consider heading over to the American Library Association's Annual Conference '09 for their grassroots program. All of the FGI gang will be there. Jim Jacobs, Shinjoung Yeo, and friend of FGI Gabriela Schneider will be on a panel called "Libraries and Obama’s Information Policy" on Saturday, 3:30–5 p.m. Hope you can make it!!
Libraries and Obama’s Information Policy
Saturday, July 11, 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.
Hilton, Lake Ontario room
The nation’s information policy is a major concern for the library community. We are facing a critical historical juncture, where libraries can raise our voices and provide a vision of information policy. This panel will provide an opportunity to identify key issues in the new administration’s information policies and discuss ways the library community can participate in forming that policy.
Moderator: Caroline Nappo, Doctoral Student, Information in Society Fellow, University of Illinois, Graduate School of Library & Information Science
Panelists: Jim Jacobs, Data Services Librarian Emeritus, University of California San Diego, Co-creator of FreeGovInfo.info; Gabriela Schneider, Communications Director, Sunlight Foundation; ShinJoung Yeo, Information in Society Fellow Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
There's also a panel on Monday July 13 from 8-10am called "From Legacy Data to Linked Data: Preparing Libraries for Web 3.0." None of the FGIers are on the panel, but we're sure to be there as data is very important!!
I just read Tim Berners-Lee's notes on putting government data online. I must say, when TBL describes it, it sounds like a piece of cake :-) The key seems to be the use of linked data. It's a snap; let's do it! RAW DATA NOW!!
Footnote: Do's and Don'ts
* Do pick URIs which are likely to be persistent
* Do put RDF metadata giving the license.
* Do use the RDF and SPARQL standards
* Make sure your human readable pages are accessible.
* Do NOT hide data files inside zip files unless they are also available directly.
* Do NOT put data up in proprietary formats.
* Do NOT wait until you have a complete schema or ontology to publish data.
* Do NOT seek to replace existing data systems.
The University of Toronto Libraries are a network of 30 collections with over 15 million holdings, forming the largest academic library in Canada, and ranking third among research libraries in North America. With an average of 12,000 visits per day, and a rapidly expanding online information system, the collections meet the research, teaching and learning needs of scholars in an exceptionally broad range of disciplines. Serving researchers in Canada's largest university, across the country, and around the world, UTL is an internationally recognized cultural resource.
The University of Toronto has used Archive-it to create a comprehensive collection on Canadian Political Parties and Political Interest Groups. The collection archives the websites of all of the national Canadian political parties, and a number of special interest groups across the political spectrum. The University of Toronto has been archiving these sites several times a year since 2005. You can find the University’s portal to their Archive-it collections here.
Department of State Office of the Historian has just released the redesign of its site: www.history.state.gov. They've done a really nice job with the redesign including new and easier access to my favorite Foreign Relations of the United States. Users can now browse FRUS by themes like decolonization, instability in Latin America, US-China trade etc (though I'm surprised that there's no theme for Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, SALT etc. Perhaps they'll add those additional themes). Users can also browse by country to find history of US diplomatic relations and links to other key publications like Department of State Background Notes, Department of State Country Information, CIA World Factbook, and Library of Congress Country Studies.
The new website boasts greater accessibility and searching within the Foreign Relations of the United States documentary series. It currently offers both textual and facsimile copies of Foreign Relations volumes from the Kennedy Administration through the Nixon-Ford administration. The Office plans to continue to digitize older volumes and eventually house all of the Foreign Relations volumes on its website. The website also contains updated sections on the history of the Department of State, biographies of notable diplomats, and an in-depth timeline of United States diplomatic milestones. The Office’s educational curriculum guides are also downloadable from the website. The Office hopes that through its enhanced presentation and organization, the new website will become the preeminent online resource for U.S. diplomatic history.
--Source: U.S. Department of State
[Thanks Resource Shelf!]
Anecdotes are not data. If you want data, you should turn to today's Guide of the Week from the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange Wiki:
Finding Statistical Resources (Sherry Engle Moeller, Ohio State University, 2005) CC Last updated 9/6/2006
I especially like this guide because it is more than a list of statistical resources. Sherry Moeller has a whole set of questions to help guide people to the right resource. She starts out with:
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the subject of interest? (Topic)
Examples: Crime, Economics, Education, Health
- Who or what is being counted? (Unit of Analysis)
Examples: Individuals, Families, Households, Businesses, Farms, States, Countries
- What level of geography is desired?
Examples: World, Country, State, County, City, Census Tract, MSA, Zip Code
- Do you want data for a single location or multiple locations?
Examples: Ohio, Great Lakes Region by State, All U.S. States
- What time period should the data cover?
Examples: Most recent available, 1870, 1900-1950
- What frequency of data do you need? (Are you looking for figures for a specific point in time or are you comparing data over a period of time?)
Examples: One time, decennially, annually, monthly, daily
- What variables are of interest?
Examples: Race, Sex, Acreage, Gross National Product
Sherry also gives this practical suggestion:
If you don't know who collected or produced the data, can you make an educated guess? (Who would need this kind of information?)
Examples: Number of airplane crashes in the U.S. - U.S. Department of Transportation?; Number of AIDS cases by country - World Health Organization?
Once she has given you some focus, Sherry's guide moves into the following sections: General Sources, International Resources, Foreign Government Resources, U.S. Government Resources, State and Local Government Resources and Other Resources. Among the many annotated resources listed are:
- Statistical Abstract of the United States
- World Development Indicators (World Bank)
- Statistical Agencies [By Country]
- Energy Information Administration (DOE)
- Statistics at the State and Local Level
The full guide is well worth your time if you have any interest in statistics whatsoever.
Aside from this guide, there are about three dozen other guides to various kinds of statistics available from the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange. Go check them out at http://wikis.ala.org/godort/index.php/Exchange_Subject_S#Statistics
Legistalker - The latest online activity of Congress Members.
Legistalker makes it easy for you to stay on top of what your elected officials say and how they vote.
Legistalker was created by Forum One Communications as an entry for the Apps for America competition. The ever-growing database is updated every 20 seconds, and relies on data from Twitter, YouTube, Capitol Words, literally hundreds of different news sources, and others.
John Gilmore is an open software proponent, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and perhaps most importantly an Archive-It partner (as an independent researcher). His Archive-It collections focus on open access to government information and policy as well as free and open source software.
John has been archiving sites related to wiretapping and the National Security Agency since 2007. Describing the reasons for creating this collection, John says:
"I'm trying to record and make searchable some documents related to the controversy over NSA wiretapping domestically without warrants, or with general warrants, which the Fourth Amendment outlaws. "
This collection demonstrates how the recent change in administration has opened up further crawler access to the National Security Agency (NSA) website. Previously, most NSA web content was blocked to the Archive-It crawler (as well as other crawlers) using the robots.txt exclusion protocol. Looking at their old exclusion list, for example this one from 2008 you can just how much of their website was blocked from crawler access. (all the directories listed could not be accessed).
Since January 17, 2009 however crawlers have access to much more content.
Its exciting to know that moving forward John and other Archive-It partners will be able to collect more complete snapshots of government websites.
-Molly and Lori