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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.

Book lists…

I think it fascinating that government agencies create “reading lists” of recommended books. The Ninth Circuit Library of the United States Courts has a list called Understanding Freedom’s Heritage: How to Keep and Defend Liberty by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy(!). It is described as being prepared for young people and “includes some acknowledged classics and some idiosyncratic choices.”

The military is big on reading lists. There is the Chief of Staff of The Air Force Reading List and the Coast Guard Reading List, for example.

The State Department has its Suggested Reading List for Foreign Service Officers.

The newest list I have found is the U.S. Department of Labor’s list of Books that Shaped Work in America. There have been more than a dozen stories about this project in the media. The DOL describes the project this way:

In honor of its Centennial in 2013, DOL, in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is developing a list of Books that Shaped Work in America. To get started, we’ve asked members of the DOL family, as well as many other esteemed individuals, for suggestions. That includes you! Suggest a book to add to the list.

Of course, this list is a work in progress, and essentially always will be, since — like America itself — work is constantly changing and evolving.

Read more about this initiative.

Each book has its own page at dol.gov, too.

Here is a short essay about the list by Kathy M. Newman, who is a professor of Literary and Cultural Studies at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh:

Don’t forget to make your own suggestions for the list!

Purpose of 1969 Nuclear Alert Remains a Mystery in new FRUS volume

Steven Aftergood says that State Department historians are still, in a new volume of the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), unable to provide a definitive account of an event in October 1969 when the Nixon Administration secretly placed U.S. nuclear forces on alert.


New & Free: USGS Releases More than 200,000 Historical Maps From 1884-2006

Via INFOdocket:

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Historical Quadrangle Scanning Project (HQSP) is in the process of releasing all editions and all scales of more than 200,000 historic topographic maps of the United States dating from 1884-2006.


The historical topographic map collection includes all States and U.S. territories mapped by the USGS. The HQSP creates a master catalogue and digital archive for all topographic maps and provides easy access to the public to download this historical data to accompany topographic maps that are no longer available for distribution as lithographic prints.

Historical maps are available to the public at no cost in GeoPDF format from the USGS Store. These maps are georeferenced and can be used in conjunction with the new USGS digital topographic map, the US Topo.

News Release and Links

Historically Relevant Links

The American Historical Association blog, AHA Today, has a wonderful weekly feature called “What we are reading.” This week’s edition has several entries that I think you will find interesting:

There is more. Be sure to check out the complete list.

Then and Now: Economic Information from the Government

As Jim mentioned, GPO has posted presentation materials from the recently concluded Depository Library Conference.

One of the files worthy of your attention is the presentation slides from:

A Tale of Two Economies: Government Information from the New Deal and Now by Marianne Ryan, Associate University Librarian for Public Services, Northwestern University Library and Catherine Jervey, Director, Market Planning Legislative and Historical Services, LexisNexis Academic and Library Solutions

The slides give a govdocs powered, side by side comparison of the reactions of FDR and President Obama to their respective economic crises. It makes for interesting reading and puts today’s economic troubles in perspective.

It’s not touched on in the presentation slides, but I’m interested in a big difference between the 1930s and today. For the most part, regular people didn’t have access to the New Deal legislation before it was passed. Today, whether or not it’s taken advantage of, people around the country have access to proposed legislation in their own homes.

Would the wide-ranging legislation of the New Deal have been passed if there had been wide public access to the proposed legislation? It’s an interesting “What If” scenario.