Education Statistical Resources from the Federal Government

August 19, 2014

With the start of a new school year just around the corner, Government Book Talk takes a look at two recently released publications from the Department of Education that examine the latest trends and developments in American education.

The Condition of Education 2013 and the Digest of Education Statistics 2012,which are currently available from the GPO Bookstore, provide important statistical data on the progress of education in the United States.

065-000-01438-6_2The Condition of Education 2013 focuses on 42 indicators in the subject areas of population characteristics, participation in education, elementary and secondary education, and postsecondary education. Each indicator covers important developments and key indicators such as economic outcomes, preprimary education, school characteristics and climate, and finance and resources.

The report also features easy-to-read charts and graphs to illustrate the current trends within each indicator. For example, the chart below from the book illustrates trends in employment rates by age group and education attainment for 2012. According to the chart, in 2012, the employment rate for young adults was 87 percent for those with at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 75 percent for those whose educational attainment was some college, 64 percent for high school graduates, and 48 percent for those who did not complete high school. Further analysis of the chart points out that older students that did not complete school—those aged 25-34 and 25-64 did slightly better in comparison to their younger counterparts, however, were still employed at a significantly lower rate than those with additional education. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

conditions employment chart 2012In addition to trends in employment rates by educational attainment, this year’s report focuses on kindergarten entry status, the status of rural education, and financing postsecondary education in the United States.

065-000-01439-4The Digest of Education Statistics 2012 provides a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education from pre-kindergarten through graduate school. Like the Condition of Education, the data in this annual report was drawn from government and private sources, but especially from surveys and other activities led by NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) part of the Institute for Education Sciences (IES). The digest contains information on the number of schools, students, and teachers, as well as statistics on educational attainment, finances, libraries, technology, and international comparisons. Details on population trends, education attitudes, labor force characteristics, and federal aid supplies helpful background for evaluating the education data.

In addition to updating many of the statistics that have appeared in previous years, this edition contains new material, including:

  • Percentage distribution of 6- to 18-year olds, by parent’s highest level of educational attainment, household type (either two-parent or single-parent), and child’s race/ethnicity (table 12)
  • Enrollment and percentage distribution of enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, by race/ethnicity and region (table 44)
  • Number and percentage of public school students participating in programs for English language learners, by state (table 47)
  • Children 3 to 21 years old served under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part B, by age group and race/ethnicity (table 49)
  • Percentage of 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children enrolled in preprimary programs, by attendance status, level of program, and selected child and family characteristics (table 57)
  • Number and enrollment of public elementary and secondary schools that have closed, by school level and type (table 109)
  • Number and percentage distribution of public school students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, by school level, locale, and student race/ethnicity (table 112)

This statistical reference could be helpful to parents choosing schools for their children as well as for teachers, librarians, and public administrators as it tracks enrollment, population trends and key areas of studies with student progress.

How can I get these publications on education statistics?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these and other publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for these in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.

About the author: Trudy Hawkins is a writer and marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).


Federal Resources for Food and Nutrition Planning

June 11, 2014

News concerning the debate over changes to the School Lunch Program has brought the topic of child nutrition and health to the forefront, in recent weeks. As government and school officials debate this important topic, Government Book Talk takes a look at the Food and Nutrition Information Center Resources CD-ROM currently available from the GPO Online Bookstore.

Resource Lists CD-ROMThe Food and Nutrition Information Center Resources CD-ROM from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) contains a plethora of useful information related to various food and nutrition programs, such as the National School Lunch Program. It particularly offers guidance to help nutrition professionals and consumers locate information and materials on specific food and nutrition topics, such as Child Nutrition and Health, Food and Nutrition Education, School Food Service, and much more. Compiled by Nutrition Information Specialists, these Resource Lists provide resources in a variety of formats including articles, pamphlets, books, audio-visuals, and Web links.

This resource list excerpt from 2008 for educators provides resource information on cultural and ethnic food nutrition.

This resource list excerpt from 2008 for educators provides resource information on cultural and ethnic food nutrition.

The vast information contained on this CD-ROM from the National Agriculture Library collection will prove to be a great resource for parents, educators, school food service professionals and child care providers. Child Nutrition Programs including before/after school and children’s summer municipal camp programs will also benefit from these resource lists for nutritional guidance and food planning for their summer and new school year child nutrition initiatives.

The FNIC website contains over 2500 links to current and reliable nutrition information.

The FNIC website contains over 2500 links to current and reliable nutrition information.

About the FNIC

According to its website, the FNIC is a leader in food and human nutrition information. Located at the National Agricultural Library (NAL) of USDA, the FNIC provides credible, accurate, and practical resources for nutrition and health professionals, educators, government personnel and consumers. To learn more about the FNIC and its various resource lists topics visit the FNIC website.

In addition to the Food and Nutrition Information Center Resources CD-ROM, the USDA has published the following print publication focusing on nutrition and diet, which is also available from the U.S. Government Bookstore.Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 offers advice regarding nutrition to promote health and to reduce risk for major chronic diseases through diet and physical activity. The publication is oriented toward policymakers, nutrition educators, nutritionists, and healthcare providers. It summarizes and synthesizes knowledge regarding individual nutrients and food components into recommendations for a pattern of eating that can be adopted by the public. Key Recommendations listed by chapter include: Balancing Calories to Manage Weight; Foods and Food Components to Reduce; Foods and Nutrients to Increase; Building Healthy Eating Patterns; and Helping Americans Make Healthy Choices. It also explains the new food plate which replaced the food pyramid.

How can I get these federal resources on Food and Nutrition Planning?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these and other publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Shop our retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.

About the author: Trudy Hawkins is a writer and marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).


Childhood Immunization: Protecting Our Children from Disease

April 29, 2014

National-Infant-Immunization-Week-2014The week of April 26-May 3 is National Infant Immunization Week and it is also the 20th anniversary of this observance. Vaccinations are becoming a more controversial topic among parents, doctors and schools. The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the recent anti-vaccination movement is leading to an outbreak of whooping cough and the measles in some states.

A couple looks at Infant Care pamphlet at GPO Bookstore: GPO Archives.

A couple looks at Infant Care pamphlet at GPO Bookstore: GPO Archives.

Before you could Google information on vaccinations and family healthcare topics and have every answer at your fingertips, government publications were the go-to source for consumer information. This former trend is evident in the fact that a pamphlet entitled Infant Care is still to this day considered GPO’s all-time best seller. Infant Care was first published in 1914 by the Children’s Bureau and provided mothers with information in a low-cost form on how to care for their babies. (Read more about the history of the Children’s Bureau in The Children’s Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood (ePub eBook) available on the U.S. Government Bookstore.) Over the course of seven decades it remained a bestseller with multiple editions published and translations in eight languages as well as Braille.

Excerpt on Vaccination from Infant Care pamphlet

100 years ago, this was the advice on vaccination of infants. Excerpt from 1914 Infant Care pamphlet.

The original Infant Care pamphlets can be seen on this archive. However, Vaccines for Children (VCF), a federally funded program handled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides no-cost vaccine services to help ensure that all children, from infancy to adolescent, have a better chance of getting their recommended vaccinations.

Image source courtesy of CDC http://www.cdc.gov/features/vfcprogram

Image source courtesy of CDC http://www.cdc.gov/features/vfcprogram

Like Infant Care, the government still has helpful publications to help parents and the public make health-related decisions. Parent’s Guide to Childhood Immunizations and Immunization Tool Kit are just two of the many government publications available on the immunization and vaccination topic.

017-022-01617-6Parent’s Guide to Childhood Immunizations is kind of like a “vaccinations for dummies.” It is a great resource that explains each disease, the vaccinations schedule, what to do before, during and after the immunization doctor visit, how vaccines work, other FAQs and additional print and electronic resources. The most helpful part of this booklet is the breakdown of each disease with information on what causes the disease, how it is spread, the signs and symptoms and complications. To brighten up what can be a scary subject, the booklet includes colorful child artwork.

immunization-tool-kitImmunization Tool Kit focuses on adult, military and childhood immunizations. This resource is made up of laminated 4X6 color coded cards held together by a ring for fast flipping making it durable and likely intended for military or health care providers, people who need a quick reference on the job. The cards are organized by immunizations for adults and the military and children with detailed information about each vaccine including a dosage, indications or who should get the vaccine, contraindications or reasons why someone should not be vaccinated and special considerations. Some of the cards have amusing caricatures of what the diseases look like. For medical personnel, there is a section on the storage and handling instructions of each vaccine. While the amount of information may seem overwhelming, the toolkit will be able to answer all or any question about vaccines.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE PUBLICATIONS ON VACCINATION?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Shop our Retail Store:Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Visit a Federal Depository Library:Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Emma Wojtowicz, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Office of Public Affairs. 

Additional content, images and editing provided by Trudy Hawkins, a writer and marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).


Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One… a Top Ten List of Funny Federal Titles

April 1, 2014

A few weeks ago, Jennifer Davis’ supervisor delivered a challenge to her via email: write a story about humorous government document titles for April Fool’s Day. (Read various stories about the origins of April Fool’s Day here, here and here.) April Fool’s humor has had a long history with American Government, dating back to Founding Father Benjamin Franklin (read caption below).

Benjamin Franklin wearing an ostentatious fake moustache for April Fool's Day

According to news humor site “Weekly World News”, the American founding father of April Fool’s Day was Benjamin Franklin. Since Franklin, April 1st has been synonymous in America for a day of practical jokes and general mischief. Tales of his exploits were published in the Philadelphia Gazette on the 1st of April every year. For example, says the site, he was known to give entire public speeches on April 1 wearing an ostentatious fake moustache. ;-) Can you believe it? (Image courtesy of Weekly World News.)- M. Bartram

Says Jennifer: “I love reading government documents for their data and their fascinating stories, but I usually wouldn’t consider them to be laugh-out-loud funny. Or as a colleague said, “They’re not Abbott and Costello funny”. But everyone’s got to laugh some time, right? And when I searched GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), and picked my colleagues’ brains, I found that Uncle Sam sometimes gets his chuckles, too. I found more titles than these ten—but I want to save some for another occasion. There have been a few other lists of humorous government documents, not all of them Federal titles, circulating around the Internet, and so I’ve tried to keep this list as unique as possible.”

(If you like the topic of this column, you should visit the Washington State University’s exhibit, The Lighter Side of…. The Government Printing Office, which runs through June 28, 2014.)

[Michele Bartram Editor's Note: Over the years, Government Book Talk has also highlighted some funny Federal publication titles within previous blog posts including: Society through a Comic Lens, The Nuttall Tick CatalogueDr. Seuss, U.S. Army, Sprocket Man!War Games, and Ponzimonium. You'll chuckle over the odd, quirky, ironic or inadvertently funny titles of the books mentioned!]

All of these titles in this blog post have records in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, and you might be able to find a copy in your local Federal depository library, or find one at your regional library. Click here for a list of Federal Depository Libraries (the Federal Depository Library Directory or FDLD). Since many of these Government documents —books, posters, pamphlets and PDFs— are older than five years, you might have to search a bit to find a copy. When available, we have provided links for the electronic version of these titles.

Below is the list of Top 10 funniest titles that Jennifer provided, along with additional details about each.

TOP 10 FUNNIEST TITLES

Gobbledygook_has-gotta-go_green-cover1) Gobbledygook has Gotta Go. This Bureau of Land Management title about the problems with Government writing is a classic, and a precursor to the “Plain Language” initiative today to simplify the wording in communications. It has been cited in several collected lists of funny titles, and it’s the only time I cheated and included it in my list anyway.  Gobbledygook is just such a great word to say, and the alliteration makes the title even funnier. You can read a scanned copy of this book here.

2) Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic. All of our GPO office mates agree: this comic has got to be the most fun Federal government document to date.  The CDC was smart and exploited the current interest in zombies, and made an emergency preparedness checklist into a comic on preparing for the “zombie pandemic”. In this comic, the scientists of the CDC are the superheroes, isolating the virus “Z5N1” and developing a vaccine in record time, while the locals develop a checklist of emergency supplies so they can stay inside their home. Just the title alone is enough to make you smile—and it gets its point across. You can read the entire publication online here.

cdc-preparedness-101-zombie-pandemic

3) This is a Dumb Bunny. I love the idea of the Federal government calling someone a “dumb bunny”. Even if the document it is quite literally the image of a rabbit, which spoils some of the fun, I am still tickled by the idea of a snarky Uncle Sam. The poster’s actually about smoking cessation.

"This is a dumb bunny!" anti-smoking 1970s poster from the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare

4) Safety is as Stupid Does!!  I know what the goal was with this title. The poster (seen on the University of Iowa Digital Library) makes it clear to the intended audience of military personnel that not thinking hurts safety on the job. However, I think the title missed the mark. It’s funny in its own right.

Safety-is-as-stupid-does_DOD-poster

5) Do Mandrakes Really Scream?  A colleague of mine is a huge Harry Potter fan. She said cataloging this title was the pinnacle of her career. It’s the online exhibition catalog of an National Library of Medicine (NLM) History of Medicine exhibit relating NLM’s historical holdings and the magic and medicine of Harry Potter.

If you read the Harry Potter series, you’ll know what the title is referring to. If you haven’t read the series, check out this free exhibit first; you might find yourself diving into the book series afterwards.

National Library of Medicine NLM "Do Mandrakes Really Scream? Magic and Medicine in Harry Potter" website

6) USDA Saves French Donkey.  The title of this mid-1980s US Department of Agriculture publication just speaks for itself.

[Editor's note: Probably the publication refers to this 1985 story reported in the Los Angeles Times about a rare 7-month-old curly haired French Poitou donkey named Sonette at the San Diego Zoo: "Rare Donkey Passes Test, Can Stay Here"]

French Poitou donkey has dreadlocks that need a haircut

The rare French Baudet du Poitou donkey breed is born with curly hair that naturally grows into long dreadlocks as an adult. This one hasn’t had a haircut in 17 years! (Source: The Telegraph – UK)

7) Self-Motion Perception and Motion Sickness: Final Report for the Project  NASA’s report on a motion sickness project makes me want to just… stop… moving! Read about it on NASA’s website.

NASA-astronauts-with-motion-sicknessAbove: NASA astronauts in zero gravity try to fend off the effects of motion sickness.  To learn more about motion sickness, watch this 3-minute TED Talk animated video about “The Mystery of Motion Sickness.”

America the Beautiful: A Collection of the Nation's Trashiest Humor with comic strips about solid waste or trash8) America the Beautiful: Collection of the Nation’s Trashiest Humor. Not only is the title funny, but the book’s content promises humor as well. This is publication number 2048 of The U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, originally published in 1970. The book consists of thirty comics, from the funny pages like B.C., and some from the editorial pages of publications from the New Yorker to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, all focusing on the problem of waste disposal. You can read the publication in its entirety online at the EPA’s website.

9) French Meadows: Hell Hole Recreation Areas. Although the area is really quite lovely, there’s a problem with image marketing in this U.S. Forest Service tourism brochure.

French-Meadows-Hell-Hole-Reservoir

Poster for The Vampire Bat movie starring Fay Wray10) Controlling Vampire Bats.  This serious US Agency for International Development publication about controlling the spread of rabies through these creatures nevertheless evokes shades of Tippi Hedren… Don’t you get a mental picture of people running down the street away from the bats, waving their arms over their heads and screaming, à la The Birds? Or Fay Wray being controlled by an evil vampire in bat form in the movie “The Vampire Bat” (movie poster image at the right)? Maybe I’ve read too many zombie comics.

How can I find these funny-titled Federal publications?

In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find these publications from the following:

  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library.
  • Visit a Public Library: Ask your local public librarian about Federal Government books available to check out as well as Federal eBooks that may be available for library patrons to digitally download through the library’s Overdrive subscription.

And to find popular current Federal publications, you may:

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks as well as print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov
  • Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling GPO’s  Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the author: Adapted and expanded by Michele Bartram, Government Book Talk Editor and Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, from an original post by Jennifer K. Davis, formerly from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP).

Have a fun and funny April Fool’s Day!


The All-in-One Guide to All Federal Assistance Programs

March 27, 2014

Catalog-of-Federal-Domestic-Assistance_2013_cover imageDid you know that the U.S. Government offers more than 2,200 Federal assistance programs to the American public? It does, and these programs serve a variety of purposes and provide a range of benefits to state and local governments, non-profit organizations, institutions, and individuals.

The one characteristic shared by these Federal assistance programs is their goal of supporting the American public. The benefits available through these programs include, but are not limited to, financial assistance and the exchange of property or services.

With so many Federal assistance programs and services available, it can be understandably difficult to keep track of them all or know where to start when looking for assistance. That’s where the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance — known fondly as the CFDA– comes into play! The General Services Administration maintains a database of all of these programs and publishes a comprehensive guide to the programs annually.

The 2013 Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance assists users in identifying programs that meet their needs and obtaining general information about the program-such as how to apply for assistance, the approval process, related programs, and contact information.

What categories of U.S. Government Federal Assistance Programs are there and what information is provided on each?

Some types of Federal Assistance funding are issued via grants. To search for and track all Federal Government grants, visit Grants.gov.

Some types of Federal Assistance funding are issued via grants. To search for, apply to, and track all sorts of Federal Government grants, visit the Grants.gov website.

Each program is detailed in the CFDA, and potential users can review the details including each program’s Objectives, Types of Assistance, and the rules for applying for and using this program, including Uses and Use Restriction and Eligibility Requirements for both the grant applicant and beneficiary(ies).

Each entry also includes any Credentials/Documentation required and the Application and Award Process that must be followed to apply for , from Preapplication Coordination and Application Procedures to Award Procedure and Deadlines for submitting your application (if required).

Types of Federal assistance programs run the gamut from Formula or Project Grants to Cooperative Agreements; Direct Payments for either a specified or unrestricted use; Direct Loans or Guaranteed / Insured Loans; Insurance; Sale, exchange, or donation of Federal property or goods; Use of Federal property, facilities, or equipment; even Investigation of complaints and Advisory Services and Counseling; plus many more.

Sampling of some of the Federal Assistance Programs available

Image: Break-down of CFDA program distribution for the top five issuing agencies by dollars provided. Source: CFDA Website

Image: Break-down of CFDA program distribution for the top five issuing agencies by dollars provided. Source: CFDA.gov Website

In order to demonstrate the broad scope of these Federal assistance programs a bit more, here’s a look at some of the more interesting programs offered by these top 5 agencies that provide the most program offerings:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

  • Nutrition Services Incentive Program
  • Mental Health Research Grants
  • Grants to Increase Organ Donations
  • Poison Center Support and Enhancement Grant Program

U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI)

  • Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program
  • American Battlefield Protection Grants
  • Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act Grants
  • Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

  • Collaborative Forest Restoration Project
  • Farmers’ Market Promotion Program
  • Animal Health and Disease Research Grants
  • Emergency Community Water Assistance Grants

U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)

  • Missing Children’s Assistance Grants
  • Community-Based Violence Prevention Program
  • Juvenile Mentoring Program
  • Economic High-Tech and Cyber Crime Prevention Grants

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

  • Housing Counseling Assistance Program
  • Appalachia Economic Development Initiative
  • Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Grants
  • Veterans Homelessness Prevention Program
Veterans-Homelessness-Prevention-Program
This last program, for example, the Veterans Homelessness Prevention Demonstration Program, or VHPD, is a Project Grant type assistance program which has the following stated objective:
“The purpose of the Veterans Homelessness Prevention Demonstration Program (VHPD) is to explore ways for the Federal Government to offer early intervention homelessness prevention, primarily to veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The authorizing statutory language for the VHPD acknowledges the increasing number of female veterans, veterans with families especially with a single head of household, as well as those from the National Guard and Reserve who are being discharged from the military and whose unique needs should be more closely examined.”

The VHPD grant money funding is to be…

“used for short-term housing assistance, including security deposits, up to 18 months of rent assistance, rental and/or utility arrearages, or related housing assistance. Grantees may also use funding for appropriate services for veterans and their families, including, but not limited to, child care, family services and case management.”

As you can see, Federal assistance programs exist to benefit the American public in many different arenas and through a variety of methods. Whether the goal is to reduce veterans’ homelessness, to mitigate the impact of earthquakes, or to provide mentorship for young people, the 2013 Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance is the ultimate resource and all-in-one guide for learning about the programs that are available from the U.S. Government.

After all, the public needs to be aware of these programs in order to take advantage of what they have to offer!

How can I get these and other Federal Government publications on Federal Benefits?

In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find other benefits publications from the following:

About the Authors: Guest blogger Stephanie Jaeger is Sales & Marketing Coordinator for GPO’s Sales & Marketing Division that markets GPO’s publishing services to the Federal sector.

Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.

 


Spring forward into the garden

March 20, 2014

Baby chick hides among yellow daffodils

Image: Chick with daffodils (Source: Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy

Ah, spring: the season of rebirth, renewal, and growth. Breathe in the air full of the fresh blossoms of flowers, feel the first warm breezes, gaze at the profusion of color, and listen to the birds chirping and insects buzzing.

Most of the United States just went into daylight saving time on March 9 with instructions to “spring forward” with our clocks. On Thursday, March 20, 2014, we spring forward for real as it is the Spring or Vernal Equinox, fondly known as the official first day of spring. After a brutal winter and the first full month of spring and National Garden Month—April– just around the corner, many minds turn toward planting and gardening with their promise of getting back in touch with nature.

Play the Zone

Before you pull on the mud boots and pick up your gloves and tools, you’ll want to determine where you are in the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for the United States. The climate where you garden affects the fruits and vegetables that you can grow successfully. Local nurseries and garden centers will typically stock plants that perform well in your climate, but it’s important to know your planting zone if you are ordering seeds, bulbs, or plants from non-local establishments.

USDA-Plant-Hardiness-Zones-Map across the U.S.

Image: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map (Source: USDA)

How does your garden grow?

If you pore over seed catalogs, browse gardening Web sites, stroll the store aisles of soil, pots, and plants, and read gardening books in the dark winter months, then you probably have the gardening bug. You can also learn to recognize the real insects that you have in your garden with The Bug Book: A Garden Field Guide from the EPA. Gardeners can toil away only to find that someone else is enticed by the new plants; that’s when some choose to control pests by using chemicals. Be extra safe and learn about the effects of pest control, especially if you have children. Greenscaping (see this EPA guide) is an alternative method of dealing with those tiny invaders in your garden.

Lady bugs clustered on an oak branch

Image: Lady bugs gathering on an oak branch (Source: NPS)

Practice safe gardening

EPA's Mission: Sunwise Activity Book for sun safety ISBN  9780160917097In any outdoor activity, you want to be safe and healthy in the garden. While you are digging away and pulling weeds, you can get quite a sunburn or get dehydrated. The EPA’s Mission: Sunwise Activity Book helps educate kids on how to be safe in the sun and to use sunscreen. Check out these health and safety tips so that you can continue to enjoy the time spent outdoors.

How to Prune Trees by the U.S. Forest Service ISBN: 9780160913761How-to-Recognize-Hazardous Defects-in-Trees ISBN: 9780160913778When it comes to tackling bigger projects, read up first to learn what to look for in your own backyard, starting with those stately trees. How to Prune Trees is a best-selling quick guide to smart practices on trimming branches for optimum tree health. How to Recognize Hazardous Defects in Trees is an overview of common issues with trees.

Removing a tree altogether is sometimes the only safe option; Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down? is a book for children that explains how taking away an unhealthy tree can benefit the overall environment of the garden.Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down? U.S. Forest Service ISBN: 9780160916267

As always, with any larger gardening issues, you’ll want to consult a professional arborist for concerns with your trees.

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow

Gardening is an ideal activity for children. Not only are they out in nature and physically active, but they also learn about where healthy food comes from while observing the weather, biology, zoology, and conservation. The First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, has been teaching the message of healthy living through nutritious, locally grown food in her White House Kitchen Garden. Plants grown right outside the White House in Washington, DC, end up on the dining table of the President’s family. Whether you are building a kitchen garden, a school garden, or a community garden, Let’s Move has more information for you, including a diagram of the White House Kitchen Garden if you want to recreate it in your own backyard.

The Little Acorn - USDA children's book ISBN: 9780160817014Schools are well aware of the educational benefits of gardening; it begins as early as pre-school. (Download the free “Grow It, Try It, Like It! Preschool Fun with Fruits and Vegetables” garden-themed nutrition education kit.) Teachers can find resources and lesson plans from the EPA to incorporate gardening into their school curriculum. And if April showers are in the forecast, little ones can still learn about nature by curling up with a delightful illustrated book about The Little Acorn, which tells of the cycle of growth and change in the garden that starts with just one seed.

Watch the video below as First Lady Michelle Obama and White House chef Sam Kass tell the story of the first garden on White House grounds since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden during World War II.

First Lady and White House chef explain history of the first White House kitchen garden since WW2

Inside the White House: The Kitchen Garden” video of First Lady Michelle Obama and White House chef Sam Kass telling the story of the first garden on White House grounds since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden during World War II. This new garden was planted in the Spring of 2009 with the help of local elementary school children and has yielded a constant supply fresh produce for the First Family and White House events. Published May 10, 2012. (Source: White House Let’s Move YouTube Channel)

You can find more White House garden videos and gardening ideas for kids on the Let’s Move Gardening Guide web page.

Look for inspiration in public spaces

A Botanic Garden for the Nation: The United States Botanic Garden (ePub eBook) ISBN: 9780160869129 for out-of-print ISBN: 9780160767722Some folks are lucky enough to own a big garden plot; others grow plants in containers on a balcony or place herb pots by a sunny window. No matter how you garden, you can always look for inspiration for your gardening pursuits. There are a number of places to visit in spring to see the variety of plants. It’s especially helpful to visit places where plants are labeled so that you know what to look for at a local nursery or plant sale.

Cymbidium ‘Hearts of Gold’ orchid in bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden

Image: Cymbidium ‘Hearts of Gold’ orchid in bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden

In the nation’s capital, Washington, DC you can go to the United States Botanic Garden and see what’s in bloom or learn how to attract butterflies to your garden.

You can also purchase A Botanic Garden for the Nation: the United States Botanic Garden (ePub eBook), a GPO Online Bookstore perennial favorite (pun intended).

Girl's face peeking out from pink azaleas at National Arboretum in Washington, DC

Peeking out from among the azaleas at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC.

While in the DC area, don’t miss the United States National Arboretum. You can see every single plant contained there, search for individual plants and see exactly where they are located on this interactive map.

Find out what’s in bloom during the month of your visit. (If visiting in April, don’t miss their world-famous display of azaleas / rhododendrons which bloom sometime in April. Check their Azalea page for current bloom conditions.)

The arboretum also has full color posters to help you identify crape myrtles, shrubs, and trees.

U.S. National Arboretum Crape Myrtles Guide

Image: Guide to Lagerstroemia, commonly known as crape myrtle or crepe myrtle, from the National Arboretum. (Source: U.S. National Arboretum)

Learn about gardening by joining others

Restorative Commons: Creating Health and Well-Being Through Urban Landscapes ISBN: 9780160864162You can learn so much about gardening by meeting other like-minded folks. If you don’t have your own garden, you might want to join a community garden or find a local gardening group or volunteer at a gardening club. Urban soils have their own unique characteristics and benefits; find out how to grow gardens in urban soil, then enjoy the benefits that come from gardening in urban landscapes in Restorative Commons: Creating Health and Well-Being Through Urban Landscapes, available from GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore.

Urban gardeners at work planting new seedlings

Image: Urban gardeners at work planting new seedlings (Source: NIH)

It’s food for thought

Fruitful Legacy: A Historic Context of Orchards in the United States, with Technical Information for Registering Orchards in the National Register of Historic Places ISBN: 9780160821271The first presidents were known not only for their political endeavors, but also for their farms, gardens and orchards. If planted and maintained well, gardens and orchards can last for decades, even centuries.

Learn more about the legacy and preservation of historic orchards in the U.S. with these two publications available from GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore:

Happy gardening!

Image: Uncle Sam promoting gardening during wartimeSource: National Archives

Image: World War II USDA poster promoting Victory gardens: “Uncle Sam says GARDEN to Cut Food Costs” (Source: National Archives)

How can I get these and other Federal Government publications on Gardening?

In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find gardening publications from the following:

About the author: Kristina Bobe is a Senior Planning and Development Specialist for the U.S. Government Printing Office’s Library Services & Content Management (LSCM) Division. Additional content, images and editing provided by Michele Bartram, Government Book Talk Editor and Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC.


Get to the Olympics with Help from these Free U.S. Government Resources

February 21, 2014

Guest blogger and GPO Supervisory Librarian Valerie Furino writes about U.S. Government publications that can help you achieve your Olympic ambitions.

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics are wrapping up, and they have been entertaining and full of surprises.  Many people watch the Olympics and dream of the magical moment of being awarded a medal (preferably gold).   However, that dreamy medal was earned through years of training and preparation.  If you want to give living the life of an Olympian a try, you’ll need to work hard.  You need to eat like an athlete – you need to train like an athlete – and you’ll actually need to GET to the Olympics – grab that suitcase!  Think you’ve got what it takes?  Let’s find out.

us-olympic-training-center-signImage: Tourists enjoying the Olympic Rings sign at the Headquarters for the U.S. Olympic Committee administration and the Olympic Training Center programs in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Get into Competition Shape

First, let’s examine eating habits.  This should be easy – athletes are known for devouring lots of calories.  This handy chart illustrates typical calories burned, depending on a person’s weight – note that the Olympic sports ice hockey, ice skating, and skiing are all included.  (If all the activities on this chart were Olympic sports, I’d be a gold medalist shoo-in for “Operate Snow Blower” after this winter!)  However, you need to eat the right kind of calories.  You’ll need fuel to power you through those salchows and Axel jumps. Nutrition.gov provides a great starting place on various nutrition topics, including meal planning, label reading, and dietary supplements.

ChooseMyPlate_gov_Winter-Health-ChallengeImage: Winter Health Challenge from ChooseMyPlate.gov (February 2014).

Que hay en su plato- Spanish version of What's on My Plate from ChooseMyPlateFrom there, you can navigate to ChooseMyPlate.gov (or buy the What’s on Your Plate?: Choose My Plate -English Language Version or the Spanish language version, Que Hay en Su Plato?: Mi Plato) which contains helpful advice on what to eat.  No matter your circumstance – college student, vegetarian, pregnant – you’ll find great tips on nutrition and some helpful recipes.

OK, nutritional standards have been established.  Now let’s move on to physical training.  Depending on your sport preference, you’ll need to exercise specific muscles – for example, cross-country skiing requires a well-developed abdomen, arms, and lower back, while snowboarding needs a strong core and shoulders.  Health.gov is a good place to start, as it provides general information on both nutrition and activity.  It provides a helpful link to Let’s Move!, a well-known initiative supported by First Lady Michelle Obama that encourages physical activity.  The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition has a fantastic site loaded with activity and nutrition tips.  If you’d like all your information in one publication, try the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans; if you’re more a visual person, check out some videos .  All these resources are useful tools to get you in shape – or at least keep you towing the line on your fitness New Year’s resolutions.

First-Lady-Michelle-Obama-White-House-lawn-Lets-move-kidsImage: First Lady Michelle Obama exercising with kids on the White House lawn for the Let’s Move! initiative. Source: White House

Getting to the Games

Apply-for-US-passport-State-DepartmentYou’ve trained and you’ve been keeping excellent eating habits – you’re now ready to get to the games, whether as an athlete or a spectator!  (Hey, it takes a lot of climbing to get to your seat in an Olympic stadium.)   Besides the United States, the Olympics have been held in some beautiful and exotic places – London, Beijing, Athens,  Vancouver, and Torino.  If traveling out of your home country, be sure to check if any vaccinations are required.  Also check for any travel alerts.  Do you have a current passport?  Need a visa to travel to the host country? These convenient U.S. State Department sites will guide you.

world_factbook_12-13After taking care of logistics, spend some time reading up on the host nation.  The World FactBook updated annually by the CIA (you can also buy the World Factbook print edition complete with wall maps) and the Library of Congress Country Studies series (many also available in print from our Foreign Country Studies collection) are two excellent resources to help guide you through your host country.  And this handy worldwide wireless guide from the Federal Communications Commission will help you figure out how to use your phone while traveling abroad!

How can I get these publications?

  • Click on the Links: For the free resources, click on the links above in the blog post.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library. (Librarians: You can find the records for most of these titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.)
  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy any of the eBooks or print publications mentioned above—with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.
  • Order by Phone: You may also order print editions mentioned in this blog post by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions mentioned in this blog post by visiting GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the Author: Valerie Furino is a Supervisory Librarian for the Government Printing Office’s Library Services & Content Management (LSCM) Division.


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