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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.

Train the user or get better user interfaces?

An article in The Atlantic concludes that, “So maybe our greater emphasis shouldn’t be on training users to work with bad search tools, but to improve the search tools.”

Government info in general reference and instruction

As a reference and instruction librarian, I always have my eyes open for sources that make government information accessible and relevant for general reference questions and instruction sessions. I especially like websites that provide a wide range of information, make that information browsable by topic, and that don’t require the user to navigate the administrative or publication cycle to get to the meat of these materials. I’m also partial to sources that include media, such as podcasts and video, which helps me sell these sources to undergrads at the reference desk and through online class guides. The good news is, it’s getting tough to keep track of them all! A couple of my favorites:

GAO topic collections
Feature reports and testimonies on a number of policy issues, from biofuels to terrorism, presented in a browsable topical list. Check out their podcast and videos too.

U.S. Department of State
Wide topical range of publications and background information, browsable by policy issues, countries & regions, and more.

An online archive of the Supreme Court, Oyez allows users to browse for cases by issue, such as due process, federalism, civil rights, etc. Also includes some audio of oral arguments.

Your favorites?