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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.

National Atlas: Another Victim of Austerity

Crossposted from the Writer’s Guide to Government Information blog.

The National Atlas from the US Geological Survey has so much of possible interest to fiction writers that it actually has FOUR entries in the Writer’s Guide to Government Information:

All this is going away on September 30, 2014 the end of the Federal fiscal year, courtesy of budget cuts. From the National Atlas web site:

Announcement – The National Atlas Will Be Removed from Service September 30, 2014

This year we are combining the National Atlas of the United States with The National Map to provide a single source for geospatial and cartographic information. This transformation is taking place to streamline access to information from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Geospatial Program. USGS budget austerity has compelled our organization to prioritize its civilian mapping role and to consolidate its core investments.

Our organization will continue its long history of providing topographic maps and other geographic information by offering a range of scales and layers of geospatial information on its National Map Viewer and through the US Topo product. As a result of the conversion to an integrated single source for geospatial and cartographic information, nationalatlas.gov will be removed from service on September 30, 2014.

We recognize that not having the same access to information about the population, economy, infrastructure, natural resources, environment, government, and history of the Nation, organized for display on national and regional maps, may place a burden on USGS customers. Please take advantage of the remaining eight months to browse and download anything you need from the National Atlas.

We value National Atlas customers and want to make this transition as easy as possible. We have posted more information on the future availability of National Atlas products and services.

Another page provides questions and answers about the future of the National Atlas.

Here are some of the questions that will likely be harder to answer from government information resources after September 30th:

  • What time zone is Dallas located in?
  • Where can I find a map of Indian reservations?
  • What did the Electoral vote map look like in 1860 for Lincoln’s first election?
  • Where are bats found in the United States?
  • Are there forests in Northern Alaska?
  • What is the average rainfall for Los Angeles, California?
  • Where did a major tornado hit in 1955?
  • What was the path of Hurricane ___________?
  • Is there more than one continental divide?
  • Outside of Appalachia, where are America’s coal fields?
  • Where are potentially active volcanoes in California?

Stay tuned for an entry on the National Map and whether it is as useful a tool for writers as the National Atlas is. If you want to complain about the deletion of theNational Atlas, I’d go straight to your Senators and Representatives. Only they can put back the money to restore the National Atlas.

USGS and Tribes Work Together to Gain Water Knowledge


Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey are working closely with Tribal leaders around the country to address water availability and water quality issues on Tribal lands. Beyond the practical use of water data, the article below describes how water on Tribal lands often has a significant place in a Tribe’s cultural heritage. Some information on work in Washington, Oklahoma, Arizona and lots of useful links in this news story on the USGS site:

Links to USGS Publications Changing

Richard Huffine, Director of USGS Libraries Program, announced on govdoc-l this week that direct links to USGS publications will be changing by September 1, 2011.

  • Direct Links to USGS Publications Changing by September 1, 2011, Richard L Huffine, Discussion of Government Document Issues, (11 Aug 2011).

    The U.S. Geological Survey’s Publications Warehouse (pubs.usgs.gov) will complete a process to migrate all of its’ on-line publications into Portable Document Format (PDF) files by September 1, 2011. At that time, the USGS will no longer support the previous DJVU format for its on-line publications. Libraries and Web site managers should link to the publications citation page for USGS publications. At sometime after September 1, 2011, direct links to DJVU files will stop working and there will be no automatic redirect to the PDF version of those materials.

    A direct link to a USGS DVJU file currently looks like:
    Once loaded in PDF, individual publications will have a link like this:

    Click to access report.pdf

    However, the preferred link to this publication is:

    The citation link is the preferred link because it may include links to plates, maps, appendices, etc. as well as links to the USGS Store to purchase paper copies if they are available. This migration has been sought by members of the research community for some time. The DJVU format offered many benefits at a time when bandwidth was a challenge. The PDF format offers a consistent format for both historical and current publications and it allows users to download and use information from USGS publications in the same way that they use research journal articles and other scientific research products.

    Over 70% of all USGS-published reports are available in an on-line format from the USGS Publications Warehouse. The system currently includes citations to over 100,000 research articles, reports, and products produced by the USGS over the last 130 years. The system also offers an RSS feed to keep users of earth and natural science research informed about the products of the USGS.

    Richard Huffine, Director
    USGS Libraries Program

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

USGS Launches Land Cover Data Web Tool

USGS Launches Land Cover Data Web Tool

San Francisco, Calif. – On April 12th the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced the launch of the new USGS Land Cover Visualization and Analysis Tool, which allows users to analyze, in specific detail, how land cover has changed over time.

Designed for both novice and expert users, the web-based system provides an intuitive interface able to selectively view and analyze land cover data from any web browser. The USGS is soliciting users to evaluate the preview release of the application. For more information, go to http://emmma.usgs.gov/landcover

“Land cover data has been a largely untapped information resource. With increasing population and the challenging prospect of climate change, comprehensive information about the condition of our land, and how it is changing, becomes more and more vital,” said Barbara Ryan, USGS Associate Director for Geography. “An easy-to-use Web-based application that delivers national land information assets to a wider audience and clearly demonstrates how our environment is changing broadens opportunities to incorporate land cover data in decision making.”

Visit this link for the complete announcement.