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Guide of the Week: Statistical Resources

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:

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

Guide of the Week: Space and Astronomy

Did you know that today (June 6, 2009), asteroid Asteroid 2004 FY15 is flying by the earth at 35 times the distance to the Moon? Or that the 52nd Session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space is going on this week? You would have if you had spent some time exploring this week’s Guide of the Week from the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange Wiki:

Space and Astronomy (University of Colorado at Boulder Government Publications Library, 2008)

The events above came from the Space Calendar listed in the “US Government Information” section of the guide. This is also the section to pay close attention to if you’re at all interested in highlighting Apollo Program resources in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing.

Other sections in UCB’s guide include: International Information, Nongovernmental Sources, Resources in the Catalog and Related Topics. Some of the resources highlighted in these sections include:

There is a lot to explore. I hope you will boldly go and explore the rest of this guide. And if you are a documents librarians with a handout or guide, I urge you to confidently go and link it to the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange Wiki.

Guide of the Week: North Korea

With North Korea once again pushing its way to the front of the headlines, this is a good time to show off a librarian produced resource guide from the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange Wiki on this pariah nation:

North Korea Country Guide (University of Colorado at Boulder Government Publications Library, 2008)

Like the other excellent country guides produced by the UCB govpubs library, this guide is broken into the following sections:

The Government Information section indicates that the main official page for North Korea is a dot com and appears to be linked to an organization called the Korea Friendship Association. In addition there are two unlabeled portraits on the North Korea home page. I suppose they are current leader Kim Jon Il and his father Kim Il Sung. But I guess the North Korea web authors feel that only people who know that for sure will be visiting the North Korea web site.

As mentioned in other highlights of UCB country guides, the Country Profiles section features profiles of North Korea from many international organizations and a number of individual countries. If you question the impartiality of US assessments of North Korea, this section may give you a more well rounded view.

One of the resources featured under “articles and databases” is the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Declassified Documents database at http://www.foia.ucia.gov/. Typing in North Korea yields 1,154 results. Some of them serious and some of them light-hearted like “Agency hosts movie premier and sneak preview” which talked about a showing of the movie In the Company of Spies at CIA headquarters. This particular document also shows the ridiculous secrecy practice by the CIA as this movie press release has a number of redactions, including this bizarre one in the following paragraph:

No visit to the agency would be complete without a trip to the [REDACTED] reports that between 9:30 and 10:55pm, guests spent 2/3 of an average day’s sales, carting away cart-loads of t-shirts, caps, and infants/children’s outfits.

The secret’s out. The CIA has a gift shop. The redaction would look somewhat less silly and pointless if they had just redacted the gift shop manager’s name.

But I digress. The good librarians at the University of Colorado at Boulder have provided a wealth of resources for anyone who wants to take a peak behind the screaming headlines of this deeply insular and often confusion producing country.

Are you a librarian with a handout or guide to an issue in the news? Then link it to the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange Wiki.

Guide of the Week: Administrative Law

A fair amount of news coverage has revolved around the regulatory activity of the Obama Administration — whether it is to keep Bush era regulations or to propose new regulatory schemes. Today’s Guide of the Week from the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange Wiki will help you keep the process straight and help you find regulations past and present:

Administrative Law: The Federal Register and Code of Federal Regulations (Hui Hua Chua, Michigan State University, 2008)

Hui Hua’s excellent guide starts out at the beginning, by explaining what a regulation is. Then she links people to four separate places that explain the complex federal regulatory process. Chances are at least one will make sense to you. Then she moves on to provide tips on searching for regulations online (1996-present) and in print.

I’ve worked with documents for well over a decade, but this guide taught me something new (or helped me to remember). You can get from the US Code to the Code of Federal Regulations(CFR) by using the index volume of the CFR, labeled “CFR Index and Finding Aids.” The “Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules” to link a US Code Section to a section of the CFR. She also tells us what I did know, that sections of the CFR will state their statutory authority, linking us back to the US Code.

Hui Hua concludes her guide with ways to keep with proposed regulations. If your work or study touches on federal regulation in any way, you’ll want to take a close look at this guide. And if you’re a librarian with a guide or handout of your own, please link it to the Handout Exchange.

Guide of the Week: Public Policy Matrix

This week’s Guide of the Week from the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange Wiki will be useful in stimulating critical thinking about public policy:

Public Policy Matrix (Grace York, University of Michigan, 1999) CC Last updated 5/12/2008 – Noncommercial copying and adaptation of this guide is permitted if the original author is cited as stipulated under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License

This guide is structured differently than many of the librarian produced guides we have highlighted before. Instead of the usual list of resources with or without annotations, we have a guide that this broken down by types of questions:

Legislative Process | Influences on Legislators
Executive Branch Options | Influences on Executive Branch

For each question or type of solution, subsets of the session are offered along with resources that might answer that question. For example, for “Who is influencing Congress?” We have:

  • Journal and Newspaper articles
  • Political Parties
  • Committee Chairmen
  • Colleagues
  • Congressional Hearings for Lobby Group and Executive Branch Testimony
  • Executive Branch
  • Interest Groups
  • Campaign Finances
  • Public

Along with resources that help people document these influences. At the end of the guide is an alphabetical listing of resources and an annotated list of related University of Michigan guides.

All in all, it looks like a good citizen resource despite its understandable reliance on some propriety resources. The questions and pointers are great in their own right and many free resources are included. If you have someone trying to wrap their brain around a policy problem, Grace’s guide would get them asking good questions. Good questions are the first step to good answers.

Next Saturday (May 2nd) is my 17th wedding anniversary, so there will be no “Guide of the Week” next week! So you’ll want to take part of your morning next Saturday to explore the Handout Exchange on your own.