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Help save the Statistical Abstract

There has been a lot of discussion and suggestions for action on GOVDOC-L and various library listservs and ALA Connect about the pending demise of the Census Bureau’s Statistical Compendia Branch and along with it the elimination of the Statistical Abstract of the United States (aka Stat Abs) and all other titles produced by that branch (State and Metropolitan Area Data Book, County and City Data Book, USA Counties, Quick Facts). Here’s the US Census Bureau’s budget estimates for 2012 (PDF).

Librarians around the country are beginning to mobilize. Alesia McManus, the Library Director at Howard Community College in Columbia, MD, has created a Facebook group “Save the US Statistical Abstract” to try to help spread the word and share information. ALA Washington Office has just announced a Legislative Action Alert opposing the defunding of the Statistical Compendia Branch.

Lastly, below is a sample letter that I hope all of our readers will send/email/fax to their Senators and Congressmen — many thanks to Starr Hoffman at the University of North Texas, Hailey Mooney at Michigan State University, and Kevin McLure at Chicago-Kent College of Law for getting the letter rolling! Feel free to copy and/or edit the letter to suit and forward this post far and wide.

Here’s an easy way to find the contact information of your Congressional delegation:


TO YOUR SENATOR:
The Honorable (full name)
(Room #) (Name) Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator ___________:

TO YOUR REPRESENTATIVE:
The Honorable (full name)
(Room #) (Name) House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative __________:

Paragraph 1: Why you are writing and who you are. List your “credentials.” (If you want a response, you must include your name and address, even when using email.)

My name is __________, and I’m a librarian at INSTITUTION which has served the government information needs of the constituents of your Congressional district and state since DATE LIBRARY BECAME A DEPOSITORY. I’m writing because I and many other librarians are deeply concerned that the U.S. Census Bureau’s Budget Estimates for Fiscal Year 2012 calls for the termination of the Statistical Compendia Branch which would mean the elimination of the United States Statistical Abstract and all titles produced by that branch (State and Metropolitan Area Data Book, County and City Data Book, USA Counties, Quick Facts). The library community is deeply upset at the thought of losing access to this important program and urges you to take action to stop this program change.

Paragraph 2: more details about the situation.

The Statistical Abstract of the United States, published annually since 1878, is a key publication for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), which provides free, public access to government information. Both the print and online versions of the “Stat Abs,” as many librarians affectionately refer to it, are on the FDLP Essential Titles list. It is the first place that many librarians, researchers, students and your constituents(!) look for statistical information, because it compiles a vast amount of information, some of it unpublished and not available anywhere else. The Statistical Abstract also provides a citation for the original source for each table, acting as a guidebook to a huge array of diverse government statistics. The Stat Abs (as well as all of the titles published by the Statistical Compendia Branch!) is a staple of reference librarians and the public for its ease of use, comprehensive content, and as a guidebook to federal statistical sources.

These long published titles — and the federal depositories that distribute it to the American public — are not an earmark, but are critical to the provision of social, economic, and political indicators to the American public and greatly benefit every American in every Congressional district. Without it, librarians, the public and your constituents(!) will waste much valuable time looking for statistics in multiple places and compiling longitudinal data.

Paragraph 3: Close by requesting the action you want taken: a vote for or against a bill, or change in general policy. If a certain bill is involved, cite the correct title or number whenever possible.

Please urge the Department of Commerce to reinstate the budget for the Census Bureau’s Statistical Compendia Branch and the essential, valuable titles that the Branch provides to the public. Many thanks for your time and your service.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME
YOUR POSITION
YOUR INSTITUTION
INSTITUTION/CONTACT INFO

References:

Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP): http://fdlp.gov

FDLP Essential Titles: http://snipurl.com/essential-titles

US Census Bureau budget estimate 2012: http://snipurl.com/census-budget-estimate-2012

Update on Statistical Abstract

This just in from the Census Bureau via GPO:

Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 11:43 AM
To: Holmes, Mary A.
Subject: FW: Fw: Statistical Abstract and the Consolidated Federal
Funds Report

Dear Mr. Lansky:

The just released 2012 budget does not include funding for the
Statistical Compendia Branch which would mean the elimination of not
only the Statistical Abstract, but all titles produced by that branch
(State and Metropolitan Area Data Book, County and City Data Book, USA
Counties, Quick Facts). No new editions would be produced in print or
online. We have already started work on the Statistical Abstract 2012
edition and are still working on the local area products (highlighted
above). We will continue to work on these products and have a
contingency plan to have the Statistical Abtract 2012 out by the end
of September, due to our uncertain future.

Sincerely,

Branch Chief
Statistical Compendia Branch, ACSD
U.S. Census Bureau

The demise of the Statistical Abstract and other critical Census titles

If you’ve been on govdoc-l over the last couple of days, you’ve no doubt read about the demise of the US Census’ Statistical Abstract of the United States, published every year since 1878 and one of the most heavily used items in libraries across the US. According to the Department of Commerce’s 2012 Congressional Budget Justification document (see pp 82-92), the entire Statistical Compendia Branch as well as the Federal Financial Statistics Program of the US Census is slated to be defunded. Not only will the Statistical Abstract no longer be published, but it also means the elimination of ALL titles produced by that branch (State and Metropolitan Area Data Book, County and City Data Book, Consolidated Federal Funds Report (CFFR), Federal Aid to States (FAS) etc.).

Please write/phone/email/fax your representatives NOW and let them know how critical these publications are to an informed citizenry and to your daily library work. Congress.org has a handy page that will allow you to write all of your representatives at once. Please also forward this message to any library listservs to which you subscribe and send to your friends and family.

UPDATE 3/15/11: In reading further, this looks to be a decision by Census to shift funds to a new program that will use new ways to collect and disseminate data. But Census still seems to be putting the StatAb cart before the new data dissemination horse here. Census Bureau will first kill StatAb etc and *then* initiate a pilot project to see how this new method of disseminating data will work. The new program will not be in place for 1-2 years and in the meantime the American public will not have access to the easy to use and handy Statistical Abstract.

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