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Part 18: Nonlawyer’s journey through Title 44: Catalog of Government publications

This post, all earlier postings in this series, and my “not a lawyer” disclaimer can be found at http://freegovinfo.info/title44 or through our library under Nonlawyer’s Journey through Title 44.

Sec. 1711



Sec. 1711. Catalog of Government publications

On the first day of each month the Superintendent of Documents shall prepare a catalog of Government publications which shall show the documents printed during the preceding month, where obtainable, and the price. Two thousand copies of the catalog shall be printed in pamphlet form for distribution.

(Pub. L. 90-620, Oct. 22, 1968, 82 Stat. 1280.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on 44 U.S. Code, 1964 ed., Sec. 77 (Jan. 12 1895, ch. 23, Sec. 69, 28 Stat. 612).

A short section of Title 44 with a major purpose. This section, along with Sec. 1710′ which we discussed last time;.designates the Government Printing Office (GPO) as the primary cataloger/describer of government publications, whether or not they fall within the Federal Depository Library catalog. Historically this was done through the Monthly Catalog, which is the direct subject of section 1711. In 1976, GPO began cataloging government publications into OCLC, making them easily machine searchable.

Still more recently, the statutory authorities used to justify the Monthly Catalog are being used to plan for a comprehensive National Bibliography. Here is a description of the National Bibliography from GPO’s 2005/2006 Information Dissemination Plan:

GPO’s National Bibliography of U.S. Government Publications (NB) is a collaborative, comprehensive catalog containing descriptions and locations of U.S. Government unclassified publications in all formats. It is not a traditional national bibliography in the sense of Canadiana , the national bibliography of Canada.

Functionally, the NB will be a principal output of the Integrated Library System (ILS), Ex Libris’ Aleph 500. GPO will develop one or more relational databases of library cataloging and other metadata records that describe and link to U.S. Government publications in a variety of formats and locations. The NB will utilize metadata resources created by GPO, by other agencies, and by partner institutions. The ILS’ metasearch function will provide the capability to search across a distributed set of metadata resources from other institutions and display a combined result set. The public face of the ILS will be GPO’s Online Public Access Catalog. Initially the NB database will consist of GPO-produced bibliographic records representing titles cataloged from 1976 to the present. Once the ILS initial implementation is completed in spring 2005, GPO plans to expand the NB database by adding pre-1976 records, records created by cooperative cataloging partners and other institutions, as well as records converted from other bibliographic or metadata formats. Enhancing the NB database with records for historical publications is a project that will span multiple fiscal years, while adding records for new publications is an ongoing effort.

The Online Public Access Catalog mentioned in the plan is now available at http://catalog.gpo.gov. A search of the catalog reveals some pre-1976 records, and more are probably being added all the time. I wish them well in their work.

Be sure to thank Congress for giving the job of describing government documents to somebody, or we’d be more lost than we are today.

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