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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Best Titles Ever! Landmark!

Aimee Slater says that the Best Titles Ever! Tumbler posted its 100th Best Title today! It is attracting dozens of followers — including some who are not in the government information librarian community, which is pretty awesome.

BTE explores non-copyright government sources, particularly ones with titles that are funny, intriguing, interesting, convoluted or clever, or any combination of the above.

Aimee sends her thanks to some of the more frequent contributors of Best Titles including Rob Lopresti from WWU and Lynda from UNCG.

Don’t forget to check it out at besttitlesever.tumblr.com (the link is always right there at the top of every FGI page!) and contribute your own Best Titles Ever!

Who is Sprocket Man? the growing mystery surrounding a prominent public domain cultural icon

[Editor’s update may 18, 2018: Sprocket Man popped up again yesterday on the Govt Documents Round Table facebook page in a discussion about favorite govt documents. Someone mentioned S-Man and gave a link to a nice writeup about his origins.]

Recently while walking to the shuttle on Stanford campus, I saw a sign with the Superhero Sprocket Man, a much loved government document comic book character (Y 3.C 76/3:2 SP 8/994) — it’s listed on FGI’s Best Titles Ever! page — at a table being jointly run by Stanford Parking and Transportation Safety (P&TS) and the Stanford Medical School out promoting bike safety as they do every friday afternoon.

As a government information librarian at Green library, I was chuffed because Sprocket Man — or so I thought — comes from a 1994 government document published by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). However, the friendly folks at the table told me that Sprocket Man was actually drawn by a Stanford pre-med student named Louis Saekow in 1975 as was reported in the Stanford Report in 2002.

So now I’m wondering how a 1975 comic book copyrighted by Stanford becomes a 1994 government document? Did Mr Saekow give the comic to the CPSC? Did CPSC simply appropriate the comic for their own use without giving Mr Saekow credit? I’m intrigued because I’ve often seen public domain government information repackaged and sold, but this is the first instance I’ve seen of copyrighted content becoming a government document.

Check out both editions of Sprocket Man and see for yourself:

If anyone has further information, please leave a comment. Otherwise, I’m on the case and will report back when I get to the bottom of this mystery!

Nominate your 2010 notable government documents now!

Please help out the government documents community. Each year the Notable Documents Panel of the Government Documents Round Table (GODORT) selects titles issued by intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and governments at all levels and highlights them in a May Library Journal article — here’s last year’s notable documents article.

If you see a government document, web site, database, or other information resource issued since January 2010 that merits attention, please take a few minutes to nominate it. Works in all formats are fair game, as are items published for governments and IGOs by private publishers.

Nominate early, nominate often!

Deadline is January 15, 2011.

Comic book rifle maintenance

In 1968, [w:Will Eisner], an acclaimed American comics writer who passed away in 2005, illustrated a US Army rifle maintenance booklet that instructs soldiers to treat their rifles like a woman. I just added it to our Best Titles Ever page, not because the title itself is particularly funny or odd, but because this was a comic book — distributed to all US military personnel in Viet Nam — whose illustrations were strange and sexist.

M16A1 rifle : operation and preventive maintenance. DA Pam 750-30.

Find in a library

[Thanks BoingBoing!]

Welcome OCLC Abstract Readers!

Welcome to any new visitor who may have gotten here as a result of the mid-August issue of OCLC Abstracts, which highlighted our Best Titles Ever/Oddly Titled Government Documents WorldCat list. By now you’ve probably visited our Best Titles Ever page and seen some of the documents not indexed on WorldCat.

We hope you’ll stick around to check out issues pages because there are significant threats to government information in the electronic age that go well beyond crude censorship.

We also hope you’ll visit our remixes/mashup page so you can see what people are currently doing with freely available US federal government information and get inspired to make your remixes.

And if you live in the United States, we’d really like you to check out our vision of the decentralized depository library system of the future and do what you can to promote that to your Congress members instead of the largely centralized model for electronic information proposed by the Government Printing Office.

For every visitor, if you like what you see here, download our browser toolbar and have access to all of FGI’s many resources plus many other government information resources whereever you go on the Internet!