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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.

Map of Vaccine-Preventable Outbreaks

la-fi-mh This time-series animated map of vaccine-preventable outbreaks world-wide from the Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations plots global outbreaks of measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio, rubella, and other diseases that are easily preventable by inexpensive and effective vaccines. The data behind the map are downloadable as a comma-separated-value (.csv) file.

Statistical Yearbook for Latin America and the Caribbean


Document of the day: the Statistical Yearbook for Latin America and the Caribbean by The Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA). The yearbook is available as a free PDF download and free Excel files. See also Statistical databases and indicators of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Statistical Yearbook for Latin America and the Caribbean of ECLAC presents a set of basic statistics on the economic, sociodemographic and environmental situation of the region during a specific time period. This information is part of the statistics available in CEPALSTAT, the statistical databases and publications portal of ECLAC.

This edition of the Yearbook includes information available up to mid-December 2013. A new feature this year is the inclusion of regional profiles giving an overview of each area. These offer the reader a thematic regional snapshot with a selected set of indicators.

The extension of the data series that can be downloaded in Excel format varies depending on the thematic area on each indicator or statistic. The document can also be fully downloaded in PDF format.

International List of Transparency Organizations

The Sunlight Foundation is compiling a list of “transparency advocates” (CSOs, groups, networks, government projects) from all around the world. They are making their findings public as a spreadsheet available as a google doc ( https://docs.google.com/a/sunlightfoundation.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AoQuErjcV2a0dF85QTRRSEFtR3pfcjN4VHdwLVYzSXc#gid=0 ). In addition to name and URL, the list includes focus areas and social media links and much more.

So far they have a list of over 500 opengov groups across the globe. If you don’t see your transparency organization in the list, submit information about it to Sunlight Foundation here: http://snlg.ht/19tUoCS

Have you looked at the World Factbook… Lately?

The CIA World Factbook is adding new categories of societal data.

  • The World Factbook Is Changing, Central Intelligence Agency (Nov 18, 2011).

    [T]he Factbook is adding new categories of societal data, which–along with other demographic and economic entries–offer additional insight into a country’s economic strength, internal stability, and impact on the environment. After a comprehensive search for datasets that are current and regularly updated, nine new fields have been added, with the World Health Organization and the World Bank providing most of the information. Eight of these fields appear in the renamed “People and Society” category: Health expenditures (as percent of GDP), Physicians density (per 1,000 people), Hospital bed density (per 1,000 people), Maternal mortality rate (deaths per 100,000 live births), Drinking water source, Sanitation facility access, Children under the age of five underweight (percent), and Obesity – adult prevalence rate. The ninth new field appears in the Economy category: Unemployment, youth ages 15-24.

Hat tip to INFOdocket!

Government Information in Guatemala

First I’d like to express my gratitude to James Jacobs and Debbie Rabina for providing us with this opportunity. I’m looking forward to guest blogging this month.

This past summer, I lived and worked at Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala City, Guatemala. I didn’t work closely with government info sources during my time there, so for this post, I spent some time with the presidential website looking at the availability of digital publications and what kinds of e-gov tools are on offer. I also checked in with coordinator of access to collections, circulation and technical processes at Biblioteca Ludwig Von Mises, Regina De La Vega, to get her perspective on government resources in Guatemala.

The presidential site of Guatemala, The Government of Alvaro Colom, serves, in some ways as a publicity site for the first family. There is a slide show of news items relevant to presidential goals, photo albums of the first lady and presidential activities, videos describing various initiatives and biographies of the president and first lady. While top navigation features a tab entitled “press room” in some ways, the whole site feels like a press site. Almost at the very bottom of the page are links to presidential programs many of which are entirely accessible online and provide useful tools and services for Guatemalans. Sites such as “Governing with the People” (a compilation of governmental decisions from all departments and states) and the Public Information Office (a mix of everything from contact information to leases to audits) provide a high level of access to government information.

So how do actual librarians make use of these tools and resources? I was fascinated to hear my opinions about the publicity elements of the site echoed in Mrs. De La Vegas assessment “In Guatemala I think (a very personal opinion) the government publications are more oriented to advertise the work of the current government” She finds the most useful items to be those published by the ministry of education. They produce materials primarily in print but some are available online and are indispensable for distance education particularly in rural areas of the country. Mrs. De La Vega tells me that, at the reference desk students do not often request information the government releases and that typically they approach the institutions that publish them directly. Biblioteca Ludwig Von Mises does collect and catalogue some governmental publications, however. Mrs. De La Vega said the most commonly requested governmental materials are various statistical resources, as Economics is a huge department at UFM.

So, however free the government information may be, perhaps the real trick for librarians is getting students to actually use them!

Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out for a post from one of my classmates on Thursday.

Sara Medlicott