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.


The Emancipation Proclamation and its Role in GPO and African American History

February 5, 2014

February is National African American History Month, also known as Black History Month in the United States. One significant event in African American history happened 151 years ago.  On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, announcing “that all persons held as slaves” in rebellious areas “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” While this Executive Order only freed slaves living in Confederate states during the Civil War, it nevertheless ultimately paved the way for the eventual abolition of slavery in America and became an important aspect of President Lincoln’s legacy.

lincoln-signs-emancipation-proclamation-on-New-Years-Day-jubilee-dayIn his proclamation of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 2013, President Barack Obama encouraged all Americans to acknowledge and celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation and “reaffirm the timeless principles it upheld.

Image: Illustration of President Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, in Washington. Source: AP 

As we honor African American heritage this month, I’m reminded of the Emancipation Proclamation and the “timeless principles” President Obama was speaking of.

A symbol of equality and justice

The significance of Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Proclamation during the Civil War was two-fold for African Americans. As mentioned earlier, not only did it lay the foundation for the eventual freedom of all slaves, it also allowed black men to enlist in the Union Army and Navy. This strategic Presidential “war measure” provided African Americans the opportunity to join in the fight for their freedom, in effect enabling the liberated to become liberators. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom.

As history teaches, the Civil War was initially about preserving the Union; however, the Emancipation Proclamation also made it about freeing the slaves– “an act of justice” that would grant African Americans, and generations to come, equal citizenship in the U.S.

For this reason, the Emancipation Proclamation remains a widely recognized symbol of freedom in American History that will forever be revered in Black History.

Fancy-Emancipation-ProclamationImage: Engraving by W. Roberts with the text of the Emancipation Proclamation. Source: Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID pga.04067.

GPO’s role in the Emancipation Proclamation

But the Emancipation Proclamation also played a significant role in GPO’s own history. Did you know… the then newly established Government Printing Office printed the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation for President Lincoln as one of its first major tasks? The original printer’s proof version was displayed for six months at GPO’s 150th History Anniversary exhibit that opened in June of 2011. I (along with many other GPO employees and visitors) was given an extraordinary opportunity to personally view the original historic document, which contained the printer’s actual proofing marks with requested changes!

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERImage: Former Public Printer William Boarman views original GPO printer’s proof copy of the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation with Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray at the GPO history exhibit. In 1862, GPO printed the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation in general orders format, issued as an Executive Order from President Lincoln in his role as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. GPO printed 15,000 copies for the War Department, which were distributed to military commanders and their troops and diplomats in foreign countries. The copy displayed at GPO contained proofing marks; those corrections were made in the final version of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Source: GPO

The GPO history exhibit is currently open to the public with free admission, Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm at GPO’s Washington, DC, headquarters at 732 North Capitol Street NW. Unfortunately, the landmark document, which was on loan for six months from the Library of Congress, is no longer available for viewing, but many more historic exhibits are on view for free.

Visitor at GPO History Exhibit carrying Keeping America Informed: The United States Government Printing Office 150 Years of Service to the Nation ISBN: 9780160887048Image: Visitor who has just purchased the GPO history book “Keeping America Informed” views the GPO 150th Anniversary History Exhibit. Source: GPO

To learn more about GPO’s role in the printing of this historic document and other important Federal publications, read GPO’s 150th anniversary history book, Keeping America Informed: The United States Government Printing Office 150 Years of Service to the Nation.

However, you can view and/or read the entire Emancipation Proclamation online at the National Archives website or visit the National Archives in Washington, DC, to see the original signed document.

Teaching the Next Generation about the Emancipation Proclamation

To help parents and educators teach children about the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation and its role in Black History, the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) published the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: Commemorative Coloring Book: Forever Free.

National Archives 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: Commemorative Children's Book: Forever Free ISBN: 9780160916342Image:  Buy the family friendly 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: Commemorative Coloring Book: Forever Free.

This 150th anniversary commemorative publication about the Emancipation Proclamation is not a typical children’s coloring book. The wealth of information contained within this great little read makes it useful as a history book for the entire family, not just for kids. For example, I learned about the origins of “Watch Night”:

On December 31, 1862, many enslaved African Americans gathered in churches and prayed. Throughout the night, they waited for the moment when the Emancipation Proclamation would take effect. This special night became known as “Watch Night,” and continues to be celebrated today in many African American churches on New Year’s Eve.

The publication opens with a brief history about President Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. It also provides portraits and short biographies describing historical events involving African Americans, such as Harriet Tubman, a former slave and Union spy who also helped recruit black troops, and Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist who helped Abraham Lincoln recruit black troops during the Civil War. It even includes a reference to this famous image:

reading-emancipation-proclamation-torchlightImage: By torchlight, a Union soldier reads the ‘Emancipation Proclamation’ to a room of slaves and their children, 1860s. The image was published as part of the ‘Life of Lincoln: Additional View’ series by the C.W. Briggs Company. Photo credit: George Eastman House/Getty Images

Other short biographies of important figures in black history covered in this book include Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and President Barack Obama.

National Park Service Discovering the Underground Railroad: Junior Ranger Activity Book ISBN: 9780160900181The National Park Service also has produced another children’s publication focusing on black history and mentioning the Emancipation Proclamation: Discovering the Underground Railroad: Junior Ranger Activity Book. Young children ranging from ages 5 to 10 and older are taught about the history of the Underground Railroad and the struggles African Americans endured in their quest for freedom. Activities include a wordsearch of terms related to the Civil War; a maze routing the journey to freedom; and a timeline highlighting significant events in Black History, such as the Emancipation Proclamation and much more. Upon completion of the activities, children are encouraged to send in their completed booklet for an official Jr. Ranger Badge. [Read about this and other Underground Railroad publications in our blog post: "The Underground Railroad Leaves its Tracks in History".]

How can you get these publications?

About the author: Guest blogger 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).

Images and additional content provided by Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram. 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 and promoting Federal government content to the public.


“Are you Ready?” for Extreme Cold and Other Natural and Man-made Disasters

January 23, 2014

Image below: Graph depicts how variations in the polar vortex affect weather in the mid-latitudes. Courtesy: National Science Foundation

Polar-vortex-fall-to-winter-chartAs the United States shivers under the Arctic Express, Polar Vortex, Polar Cyclone, Polar Low, Circumpolar Whirl or whatever name you call it (I just call it FREEZING!!!!) with snow, ice, and some of the most extreme cold conditions in decades, Americans will be happy to know that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has help available in the form of its extremely useful new disaster preparedness guide, Are You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness.

FEMA Are You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness ISBN: 9780160920745Intended as both a reference source as well as a step-by-step manual, this easy-to-follow guide has been designed to help Americans “learn how to protect themselves and their families against all types of hazards”.

According to the FEMA authors:

The focus of the content is on how to develop, practice, and maintain emergency plans that reflect what must be done before, during, and after a disaster to protect people and their property. Also included is information on how to assemble a disaster supplies kit that contains the food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity for individuals and their families to survive following a disaster in the event they must rely on their own resources.

The guide advises on planning before a disaster, responding during a disaster, and recovering after a disaster and is organized into the following sections: Why Prepare, Part 1 Basic Preparedness, Part 2 Natural Hazards, Part 3 Technological Hazards, Part 4 Terrorism, and Part 5 Recovering from Disaster.

Each chapter has specific tips on preparation, what to do during the particular disaster, instructions for what to do afterwards, and where to go for more information, including links for free publications.

Disasters and emergencies cover the gamut in three areas:

a)      Natural Hazards, including: Floods, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Thunderstorms and Lightning, Winter Storms and Extreme Cold,  Extreme Heat, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Landslides and Debris Flow (Mudslide), Tsunamis, Fires and Wildfires;

b)      Technological Hazards, including:  Hazardous Materials Incidents, Household Chemical Emergencies, and Nuclear Power Plants

c)      Terrorism, including: General terrorist threats, Explosions, Biological Threats, Chemical Threats, Nuclear Blast, and Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD).

Are You Ready?… for Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

FEMA-Are-You-Ready_page-80-Winter-Storms-and-Extreme-ColdAs I was concerned about the extreme cold, I turned to Part 2, Natural Hazards, Section 2.5 Winter Storms and Extreme Cold.

In the preparation part, I found useful terminology such as the difference between sleet and freezing rain, protective measures and supplies to gather, tips on how to winterize my car (e.g., have you cleaned your car battery terminals and used gasoline additives to keep water out of your fuel lines?) and how to dress for the winter weather (did you know mittens are warmer than gloves?).

FEMA-Are-You-Ready_page-83-Winter-Dress-for-ColdDuring a winter storm, “Are you ready?” gives more advice, such as what to do if a blizzard traps you in the car and how to watch for signs of hypothermia.

[Signs of hypothermia]… include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first, and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.

Other Useful Information in “Are You Ready?”

In addition to information on specific types of emergencies, the guide includes a number of other very useful resources.

Assembling a Disaster Supplies Kit:  A whole chapter is devoted to assembling a good general disaster supplies kit for multiple locations: home, work and vehicle.

Practice Makes Perfect: Advice on how to practice and maintain your emergency plan is under Section 1.6.

General Evacuation Guidelines:  Tells what to do to prepare your home if you have to evacuate, such as utility shut-off and safety, reviewing and securing of insurance and vital records, and so on.

Special Needs: Information on how to do disaster planning to accommodate someone with disabilities is included.

Pets: Caring for pets in emergencies is not forgotten, either.

FEMA Hazard Maps: It highlights how to get free hazard maps from FEMA in your area by accessing FEMA’s Hazard Mapping Portal.

Homeland-Security-Threat-Assessments-Color-MatrixWarning Systems and Signals: The guide explains different national alert systems such as the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio (NWR), as well as the Homeland Security Advisory System with its Threat Conditions thermometer.

Quizzes: The guide even includes some quizzes such as the Terrorism Knowledge Check on page 172 that asks such questions as:

What would you do, if you were at work and…

a. there was an explosion in the building?

b. you received a package in the mail that you considered suspicious?

c. you received a telephone call that was a bomb threat?

Mental Health Issues: Tips are included on how to recognize if children vs. adults may need crisis counseling or stress management assistance as well as how to ease disaster-related stress (such as attending memorial services). For children, guidelines are included by age range of common reactions to traumatic events, along with tips on how adults can reassure children after a disaster.

For additional information about Federal mental and medical emergency resources, read our previous blog post: “Help is Just a Call, Click or Page Away: Federal Disaster Helplines & Emergency Medical Resources.”

Family Forms: The guide is customizable to you and your family with forms to fill out for your own emergency plans. Included is a form for you to use to fill out information as you collect it from your local authorities on possible hazards and emergencies in your community, the Risk Level and how to reduce your risk, along with a “Community and Other Plans” form to use to record answers from your local officials about your community’s disaster and emergency plans.  Also included is a form to draw and to record your family’s specific evacuation route and another to record your Family Communications Plan.

Checklists and Appendices: The guide also includes some handy appendices: Appendix A: Water Conservation Tips, Appendix B: Disaster Supplies Checklist, and the all-important Appendix C: Family Communications Plan.

Preparedness Websites: One is a list of Disaster Public Education Websites from both the Federal Government such as FEMA’s own Ready.gov site (www.ready.gov), as well as non-Governmental sites, like the Institute for Business and Home Safety, www.ibhs.org.

Disaster Recovery Assistance: Finally, advice and resources for getting disaster recovery assistance are covered in the Are You Ready? guide, too.

FEMA Are You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness ISBN: 9780160920745How can I get a copy ofAre You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness”?

Whether you live near an active volcano; in Tornado Alley or a Hurricane Zone; in wildfire, mudslide or flood-prone areas; or just want to be prepared for any emergency—natural or man-made—this guide will help you save the day!

  • MULTIPLE COPIES: FEMA recommends having a completed guide for each location for your family members: home, work or school, and your vehicle(s). Fill out the customizable sections in each copy with your relevant family, workplace and community information.
  • Shop Online: You can buy this publication from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Digital: Find a PDF version on the FEMA site.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for it in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions 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.


Federal Favorites: Our Best Selling Books of 2013

January 16, 2014

Ahhh…. It’s that time of the year again: Awards season! From the Golden Globes to the Academy Awards, red carpets abound with interviews of movie stars and other celebrities boasting about their best work during the past year.

We at the US Government Bookstore want to make sure our star publications and Federal agency publishers get their moment in the limelight, too. So, we are pleased to announce the winning publications that you, our readers, chose through your purchases over the past year: The US Government Bookstore Best Sellers of 2013!

Top-Government Books and Best-Sellers-of-2013 from the GPO US Government Online BookstoreHere are some of the more notable books, eBooks, posters and more that were winners in your eyes over the past year:

ART & TRAVEL

National Park System (Wall Map Poster)Americans love our national parks, so it’s no surprise the National Park System Wall Map Poster was a big hit.

Humanities-Magazine-2014-01Humanities is a bimonthly magazine published by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) which covers NEH sponsored research in the humanities and NEH programs and projects, as well as information on recent and upcoming NEH grants.

HISTORY

With the 150th anniversary and reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg last summer, The Gettysburg Campaign, June-July 1863 was a smash success (Read our post “Gettysburg, America’s Bloodiest Battle” for more information).

Perennial favorite Underground Railroad: Official Map and Guide (Read our post “The Underground Railroad Leaves its Tracks in History”) was joined by two publications commemorating 50th anniversaries:

Book Cover Image for Statistical Abstract of the United States 2012 (Paperback)Finally, the Statistical Abstract of the United States, the last official edition published in 2012 by the U.S. Census Bureau, contains a standardized summary of all official key statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States (Read our post: “Statistical Abstract and Print Mashups in a Digital Age”).

TREES & FORESTS

Book Cover Image for The Little AcornI won’t be going out on a limb to say that our customers definitely wanted to hug trees this year, as books about Trees & Forests topped the lists. Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down? and The Little Acorn are extremely popular books for children explaining about the uses and life cycle of trees.

Image for Timber Management Field BookHow to Prune Trees and How To Recognize Hazardous Defects in Trees for amateur and professional gardeners, landscapers and foresters alike, and the Timber Management Field Book serves as the most popular reference handbook for forestry professionals.

(Read our posts “Oh, say, can you tree? American Christmas tree traditions,” “Pruning Trees” and “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Inspires Kids to Hug a Tree” for more information on these titles.)

BUSINESS AND LAW

A Basic Guide to Exporting for Small & Medium-Sized Businesses (10th Revised)International business entrepreneurs and would-be exporters have made A Basic Guide to Exporting: The Official Government Resource for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses a best-seller every year (Read our posts: “Exporting Made Simple and “Government eBooks Made Easy– and Sometimes Free” for more information).

Copyright Law of the United States in U.S. Code as of 12/2011Protecting intellectual property and privacy were extremely hot topics in 2013, making the Copyright Law of the United States and Related Laws and the Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974, 2012 Edition (extremely popular last year (Read our post: “The Privacy Act: What the Government Can Collect and Disclose about Youfor more information).

TRANSPORTATION AND NAVIGATION

TAstronomical Almanac for the Year 2014 and Its Companion the Astronomical Almanahe latest versions of the annual best-selling Astronomical Almanac for the Year 2014 (Combined Print plus Online Edition) and The Nautical Almanac for the Year 2014 are critical tools to aid commercial and private navigation by both air or water (Read our post: “Navigating by the Moon, Planets, and Starsfor more information).

Specifically for maritime navigation, Navigation Rules, International-Inland contains the latest international regulations for preventing Book Cover Image for FAA Safety Briefingcollisions at sea as well as the U.S. Inland Navigation Rules which have been in effect for all inland waters, including the Great Lakes.

The FAA Safety Briefing magazine provides updates on major Federal Aviation Administration rule changes and proposed changes, as well as refresher information on flight rules, maintenance air worthiness, avionics, accident analysis, and other aviation topics.

CITIZENSHIP AND CIVICS

Preparing to become a United States citizen and reaffirming knowledge of the American system of Government is extremely popular with our customers, and this year was no exception. Top civics and citizenship publications for 2013 included the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence (Pocket Edition) and materials for preparing for the U.S. Naturalization Test to become a United States citizen—

(Read our posts: “Quiz and History for Bill of Rights Day December 15”, “Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grade Civics student?”, and “Notable Documents 2009: Civics Flash Cardsfor more information on these products.)

Another patriotic publication that proved popular (Do you like the alliteration?:-) was Our Flag, which briefly describes the history of the American flag and sets forth the practices and observances appropriate to the display of Old Glory, was a top-seller.Book Cover Image for How Our Laws Are Made

The Congressional book, How Our Laws Are Made, provides citizens with a basic outline of the numerous steps of our Federal law-making process from the source of an idea for a legislative proposal through to its publication as a statute and becoming the “law of the land”.

HEALTH

Watching our weight and eating better were definitely on the minds of Americans this year as Diet & Nutrition books and posters were best sellers, including:

Book Cover Image for Special Operations Forces Medical HandbookHealthcare professionals turned often to the U.S. Government Bookstore for Physician References & Medical Handbooks, Medical & Health Research, and Military & Emergency Medicine publications in 2013. Top on the list were copies of the new Healthcare Law, as well as the Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook.

But also important were publications used to improve the quality of healthcare research and patient care and safety. These included the ORI: Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research  (also available in Packages of 50) which provides guidelines for Public Health Service-funded researchers, as well as the TeamSTEPPS patient care and safety training materials for healthcare personnel, such as the TeamSTEPPS Instructor Guide (Binder Kit) and TeamSTEPPS Pocket Guide that should be handed out to all healthcare personnel who attend TeamSTEPPS training.

SECURITY AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

Emergency management personnel and first responders responded strongly to the many great safety and emergency response publications on the U.S. Government Bookstore.  These books and pocket guides topped their “must have” list in 2013:

Specifically for dealing with Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) and Chemical-Biological-Radiological-Nuclear-Explosive (CBRNE) incidents, clean-up and response were these best-selling guides:

The importance of radio communications was underscored by the popularity of the United States Frequency Allocations: The Radio Spectrum Chart (Poster) of all assigned frequencies and the National Interoperability Field Operations Guide which contains radio guidelines for establishing or repairing emergency communications in a disaster area.

GOVERNMENT

Every year, the publications containing the President’s proposed Federal Budget for the upcoming fiscal year are on our best sellers list, and the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget publications followed this tradition. (Note: Stay tuned! The new Fiscal Year 2015 Budget publications will be coming out soon from the White House).

United States Government Manual 2013 lists all federal agenciesThe U.S. Government Manual, the ultimate handbook of all Federal agencies, was a hit as it is every year. Now you can get the new edition: United States Government Manual 2013 (Read about it on our Blog post:  “Understand How the U.S. Government is Organized”).

Other “Best of the Best” Government titles include:

How can I get these “Best-selling Books of 2013”?

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the individual links above in this blog post. You may also click here to shop our entire “Best Sellers of 2013” collection.
  • 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.
  • 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 one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is also 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. Assistance provided by Stephanie Jaeger, Sales & Marketing Coordinator for GPO’s Sales & Marketing Division that markets GPO’s publishing services to the Federal sector.


Federal Books that Shaped Work in America

December 30, 2013

Federal Government Books that Shaped Work in America, a collection about employment, careers, occupations, job hunting by the US Government BookstoreThe end of the calendar year typically provokes many lists and reviews reflecting on the past. Here at the Government Printing Office’s Government Book Talk blog and the U.S. Government Bookstore is no exception. A few weeks ago, we were contacted by Mike Volpe at the Department of Labor (DOL) about an exciting and relevant initiative they are running in honor of the Labor Department’s Centennial in 2013 that looks back on the important work-related publications across the country.

Image above: Logo of the Department of Labor’s “Books that Shaped Work in America” project. See the Government Printing Office’s list of Federal  Books that Shaped Work in America.

According to Carl Fillichio, Senior Advisor for Public Affairs and Communications at the U.S. Department of Labor and chair of the Department’s Centennial, the Department of Labor is developing a list of Books that Shaped Work in America in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

MICHELE BARTRAM, Government Book Talk Editor: Carl, I understand that a Library of Congress “Books that Shaped America” exhibition in 2012 was the inspiration for the Department of Labor project. What was the relationship between the two and how was the idea born for the DOL version?

Carl Fillichio, Senior Advisor for Public Affairs and Communications at the U.S. Department of LaborImage: Carl Fillichio, Senior Advisor for Public Affairs and Communications at the U.S. Department of Labor, and chair of the Department’s Centennial.

CARL FILLICHIO:  The Labor Department was not actually involved in the “Books that Shaped America” exhibition at the Library of Congress, other than being big fans of it!  Rather, it served as the inspiration for this project.  The number and wide diversity of books on that list that had work as a central theme really impressed upon us the role that published works have played in shaping American workers and workplaces.  That’s how the idea for this project was born.

BARTRAM: What is the goal of this new DOL project? What do you want citizens to get out of it?

FILLICHIO: The goal is to engage and educate the American public about the Labor Department’s mission, resources and history in our centennial year in an unusual way: through a lens of literature.  The project is a key part of our Centennial commemoration; the Department was established in 1913.  So we thought this would be a “novel” [pun intended! ;-)] way to involve the citizens we serve in the marking of this milestone.

For each book included on the list (now and in the future), we note how its themes relate to our work.  We hope citizens will learn more about what we do and consider the many ways our work has impacted Americans’ lives during our 100-year existence.

BARTRAM: What are the criteria for adding items to the list? Can they be eBooks as well as print? Do they need to be still in print?

FILLICHIO: Just like work, books have changed a lot in the last 100 years—not only in the themes they address, but also in how we access them!  So, books do not need to be in print to be on the list.  We started the list with 92 entries, all recommendations from various contributors with diverse perspectives on books and/or work (including almost all former living Labor Secretaries).  We will now add to it based on public input.

To be added to the list, the book needs to have had an impact on America’s workers, workplace and workforce.  That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be about work per se, but rather have shaped how it is viewed or, in some cases, addressed through public policy.

Watch the video below for an introduction to the “Books that Shaped Work in America” project:


Click on video image above.

BARTRAM: What is the most surprising/ unusual addition to the list, in your opinion?

FILLICHIO: That’s a great question, Michele!  As noted earlier, not all books on the list are overtly about work, and one great example is Little Women, which was recommended by a Labor Department intern, Amanda Kraft.  While there are several books on the list that touch upon working women, that one—published in 1869—sticks out to me because it was so ahead of its time.  It was about women and ambition—long before women were “allowed” or encouraged to be ambitious.  It had and continues to have a big impact on working women.

BARTRAM: “Little Women” certainly influenced me. Do you have some other fun facts about the project you’d like to share?

FILLICHIO: Here are a few fascinating facts:

  • We started with 92 books based on recommendations from 25 contributors.  These contributors run the gamut from the current and former Labor Secretaries to best-selling authors to small business owners.
  • The books range in publication date from 1758 (Poor Richard Improved, by Benjamin Franklin) to 2013 (My Beloved World, but Sonia Sotomayor).
  • One of the books recommended by the current Labor Secretary, Thomas E. Perez, is Busy, Busy Town—a classic children’s book that introduces very young readers to the purpose and value of work, to both oneself and others.
  • We have received nearly 500 recommendations for books to add to the list so far.

BARTRAM:  How can our Government Book Talk readers get involved in the DOL project?

FILLICHIO: To get started with the list, we asked members of the DOL family, as well as many other esteemed individuals, for suggestions. That includes the public!

Your readers who have recommendations for memorable and important print or digital publications to add to the DOL list should click on our Suggest a book link on our special Books that Shaped Work in America website, http://www.dol.gov/100/books-shaped-work/. Publications can be either from the past or present and should have influenced or relate to jobs, employment, careers and other work-related topics.

If you want to add a book, you will only need to submit the publication’s  Title, the Author, and a brief Description of why you think the book shaped work in America or influenced the work you do or have done.

BARTRAM: Anything to add in summary, Carl?

FILLICHIO: I think this quote from U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez says it best:

The ‘Books that Shaped Work in America’ initiative explores the dignity of work and our progress in expanding America’s fundamental promise of opportunity for all through the lens of literature. Think of this effort as an online book club where people from all walks of life can share books that informed them about occupations and careers, molded their views about work and helped elevate the discourse about work, workers and workplaces. At the same time, the site provides a unique way for people to learn about the mission and resources of the U.S. Department of Labor.

(Read the entire 11/20/2013 DOL Press Release here)

BARTRAM: Thank you so much for this information about this significant project.

We at GPO want to contribute to the list by recommending these important Federal Government publications we have produced for Federal agencies that we feel belong on the list as “Federal Books that Shaped Work in America”!

Federal Books to Identify Industry and Career Trends

Not surprising, many of the more important Federal books about work have come from the Department of Labor, from information about occupations and industries to advice to job seekers.

The DOL’s Employment and Training Administration has designed a set of self-directed career exploration/assessment tools to help workers consider and plan career options, preparation, and transitions more effectively. They also are designed for use by students who are exploring the school-to-work transition. These tools are based on the O*NET model built off the Labor Department’s O*NET database which contains information on hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors. The O*NET Content Model defines the key features of a particular occupation with its unique mix of required knowledge, skills, and abilities, activities and tasks, and describes the day-to-day aspects of the job and the qualifications and interests of the typical worker.

Book Cover Image for O*Net Version 3.0: Work Importance Locator, User\'s GuideCareer counselors and job seekers can use the O*NET tools to link to the more than 800 occupations described by the O*NET database, as well as to occupational information in CareerOneStop. This allows users to make a seamless transition from assessing their personal interests, work values, and abilities to matching their job skills with the requirements of different occupations in their local labor market. Find all the O*NET Career Assessment publications here on the U.S. Government Bookstore.  

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes additional books about career and industry trends, including:

Other Federal agencies also have published important books about careers, including:

  • United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions 2012 (Plum Book)Every four years after a Presidential election, Congress issues the famous “Plum Book” that lists the over 9,000 civil service leadership and support positions in the Legislative and Executive branches of the Federal Government that may be filled by direct political appointment. The United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions 2012 (Plum Book) was the most current edition. (See other Federal employment publications in our Working for the Federal Government collection.)
  • A Life Inspired: Tales of Peace Corps Service recounts the unique experience of being a Peace Corps Volunteer via autobiographical reminiscences by 28 former Peace Corps volunteers.
  • Book Cover Image for Standard Occupational Classification Manual 2010 (Revised)The Standard Occupational Classification Manual 2010 (Revised) by the Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) presents the standard occupational codes, structure, titles, definitions, and illustrative examples of job titles found in key occupations.
  • Unfortunately being discontinued next year as a formal publication is the Survey of Current Business subscription by the Commerce Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration Bureau of Economic Analysis. This key publication was critical to business planning as it provided national income and product statistics, including the U.S. Gross National Product, the GNP implicit price deflator and corporate profits and articles about trends in industry, the business situation, and outlook.

Books that Provided Job Hunting Advice

Books to Keep Workers Safe and Healthy

The existence of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA within the Labor Department and the subsequent laws and regulations it oversees to improve workplace safety and worker health has drastically improved working conditions for generations of American workers. Over the years, OSHA has published a number of publications for both industry and workers. All About OSHA (Package of 25 booklets)Today, it publishes All About OSHA (or Todo Sobre la OSHA (Spanish Language Version), a brochure explaining how OSHA operates, workplace and worker safety standards and enforcement, required employer recordkeeping, OSHA services and programs, and even whistleblower protections.

NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, offers the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards to help workers and employers detect and prevent chemical accidents.

Reclamation Safety and Health StandardsA similar publication exists from the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. Reclamation Safety and Health Standards contains safety and health standards for workers in water management facilities and hydroelectric power plants.

The Army Medical Department produces a number of excellent publications about working conditions and health of the military personnel. Textbooks of Military Medicine, Pt. 3, Disease and the Environment: Occupational Health, The Soldier and the Industrial Base gives information on occupational health of military personnel.

Examining man-made disasters and their causes and remedies is a key role of Federal Government. One of the more important publications affecting regulations and Americans’ attitudes toward offshore drilling was the 2011 Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, Report to the President (in paperback) or ePub eBook.

Breaking the Mishap Chain: Human Factors Lessons Learned From Aerospace AccidentNASA has provided us with Breaking the Mishap Chain: Human Factors Lessons Learned From Aerospace Accidents and Incidents in Research, Flight Test, and Development (ePub eBook), a collection of case studies of mishaps involving experimental aircraft, aerospace vehicles, and spacecraft in which human factors played a significant role.

Books about Minorities in the Workplace

Impact of Illegal Immigration on Wages Employment of Black WorkersThe Commission on Civil Rights published The Impact of Illegal Immigration on the Wages and Employment Opportunities of Black Workers to examine the possible effects of illegal immigration on particularly vulnerable segments of the U.S. working population, specifically low-skill black workers.

Veterans’ rights and benefits are outlined in the annual Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents & Survivors, offered in English or Spanish, that includes work-related issues such as vocational rehabilitation; workplace benefits; and education, transition and training.

Invest in Women, Invest in America: A Review of Women in the U.S. EconomyWomen in the workplace were addressed in these two key publications that are still available. The Joint Economic Committee of Congress published Invest in Women, Invest in America: A Comprehensive Review of Women in the U.S. Economy that provides a comprehensive review of the “essential contributions of women” to the U.S. economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics published Women in the Labor Force: A Databook which presents historical and current labor force and earnings data for women compared to men from the Current Population Survey.

And child labor and protection issues were addressed in the recent exciting publication, The Children’s Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood (ePub eBook).

Nisei Linguists:Japanese Americans in Military Intelligence Service During WW IIFinally, the engrossing Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During World War II (Paperback) or ePub eBook recounts the contributions of Japanese Americans during World War 2, even as many of their family members were being detained in internment camps across America.

Readers, if you want to recommend other Federal publications, past or present, that you feel have influenced work in America, let us know by sending us a COMMENT at the end of this post!

How can I obtain these “Federal Books that Shaped Work in America”?

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the individual links above in this blog post. You may also
  • 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.
  • 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 one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is also 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.


“Santa, We Got Your Six!” NORAD’s Santa Tracker Goes High-Tech

December 23, 2013

Tracking Santa call sign Big-Red-One on NORAD Santa Tracker RadarThis article is Part 2 of a two-part series on NORAD’s Santa Tracker by Government Book Talk and explores the fascinating technology NORAD uses today to keep the Abominable Snowman, the mean Mr. Grinch, and Jack Frost from spoiling Santa’s big flight on Christmas Eve.

“Click here to read the popular Part 1 article, “Tracking “Big Red One”: NORAD’s Secret Santa Mission” which tells the history of how a fortunate advertising mistake in 1955 and a colonel’s heartwarming response to kids led to NORAD tracking Santa Claus.

In the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)’s 58-year history of tracking Santa Claus (Santa’s call sign for NORAD is “Big Red One”), it has continued to innovate and expand its Santa-support mission with the addition of new technology. 2013 is no exception.

Background of NORAD’s Santa Tracker

In Part 1 of our @NORADSanta Tracker series, we learned that NORAD’s mission of defending North America was expanded to include tracking Santa Claus’ flight on Christmas Eve back in 1955.

Guarding What You Value Most: North American Aerospace Defense Command Celebrating 50 Years (available in Hardcover Print or as an eBook) is the terrific publication documenting NORAD’s illustrious 50+ years of  history and provides easy-to-follow timelines of key NORAD events along with copious color photographs, maps and snippets of history of this important organization.

The publication also proudly covers the history of its favorite mission— Santa tracking— stating:

“Today, using the same technology used to perform their day-to-day mission— satellites, high-powered radars and jet fighters— NORAD tracks Santa Claus as he makes his Yuletide journey around the world.”

To learn what NORAD & NORTHCOM (USNORTHERN Command) do when they aren’t tracking Santa, you can also visit their Facebook page.

NORAD’s Santa Tracking Innovations

NORAD has been as busy as Santa’s workshop in 2013, updating their systems to provide the ultimate Santa tracking capability. In a November 27 press release, NORAD is ready to track Santa’s flight, NORAD cites some of these innovations:

From intelligence to weather, satellites to ships, missiles to manned aircraft, NORAD has a wide variety of technology and processes that are deployed to protect North America and support special missions like helping “Big Red One.”

Santa Drops in for a Sneak Peek

Santa dropped into the NORAD Command Center in September 2013 to get a sneak peek at some of the innovations. Said Santa during his visit:

NORAD Tracks Santa defines my sleigh as a versatile, all-weather, multi-purpose, vertical short-take-off and landing vehicle capable of traveling vast distances without refueling. My reindeer and I call it the world’s most magical gift transporter. Ho ho ho!”

Santa-on-NORAD-cargo-planeImage: Santa Claus drops in for a sneak peek of the Santa Tracker preparations on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, at the NORAD and USNORTHCOM headquarters at Peterson Air Force, Colo. Photo Credit: Michael Kucharek

Santa Tracker Test Flight Reveals NORAD Technology

On November 15, 2013, NORAD held a test flight incorporating all the technological know-how and innovations. During the test flight, NORAD personnel from the United States and Canada ran through checks of the technology, systems, processes and intelligence in place that are normally used to defend against threats but during Christmas are used to help Santa Claus complete his mission.

A video of this test flight that includes an overview of this impressive technology can be viewed for the first time in a NORAD Tracks Santa Command Center video of the Santa 2013 Test Flight.

NORAD-Command-Center-Test-Flight-VideoClick here to view the NORAD Command Center video of the Santa 2013 Test Flight on YouTube.

The NORAD team takes their Santa Mission seriously. ;-)

In the comms [communications] check during the Santa test flight, we learn that the “Intel” [Intelligence] team verified that Jack Frost and Abominable Snowman would not interrupt Santa’s important journey on Christmas Eve. The Cyber team ensured that the “anti-Grinch viral” was in place to ensure the nasty green guy doesn’t steal Christmas this year via cyber-attack. And other NORAD personnel confirmed their assessment of the “load-bearing capacity for all rooftops that Santa will be landing on.

One of the more interesting tidbits is learning of the upgrades made to ground-based radar systems that can now detect heat signatures from smaller objects in the air, “like the heat generated from Rudolph the Reindeer’s red nose.

Fighter Jet Controversy?

Strangely, the use of a fighter jet escort for Santa has generated some controversy this year, even though this is part of the NORAD Santa Tracker tradition that has been in place for years.

NORAD tells kids of the fighter jets:

“Did you know Santa flies faster than starlight? He flies even faster than our fighter jets and slows down for our jets to come up beside him. They tip their wings to say hello, he always waves back and then is off again in the twinkle of an eye!”

However, with some new concerns on the part of a children’s advocacy group which said that the animated video on the NORAD Tracks Santa website “injects militarism into Christmas by showing fighter jets escorting Santa’s sleigh,” NORAD issued this statement on December 3, 2013:

Hi Folks,
We know there have been some questions about our #NORAD fighter jets escorting #Santa this year; this isn’t new. Every year we use our military satellites, radars, fighter jets and Santa Cams to track #Santa during his Yuletide journey. These are the same assets we use to provide homeland defense for North America every day of the year. We talk about this every year.

Each year, we look for ways to update the #NORAD Tracks #Santa program to keep it fresh and interesting. We have always showcased our military assets for tracking Santa on our sites. In fact, each year, the Canadian #NORAD Region (CANR), announces the names of the escort fighter pilots responsible for accompanying #Santa across Canadian skies.

We know for many families that #NORAD Tracks #Santa has become part of your Holiday Traditions. We know that is a huge honor and responsibility. We are proud to track #Santa each year!

NORAD-Santa-Tracker-Canadian-fighter-jet-pilots-2012You can see the two Canadian NORAD fighter jet pilots who were designated to escort Santa through North American airspace in 2012 (see minute 2:27 on the Headquarters NORAD Holiday Message 2012.)

Said the Canadian fighter jet escort pilots to Santa Claus:“We’re going to be your escort for this fantastic voyage… We’ve got your six.”

(Note: The Urban Dictionary defines this oft-used military phrase as follows:

“I got your six” basically means “I’ve got your back” or “I have you covered.” Comes from the old pilot system in which directions correspond to hours on the clock, where 12 o’clock is forward and 6 o’clock is behind. Thus anyone behind you is “at your six.”)

Santa Tracker Technology for Citizens on the Ground

Private citizens around the world can get into the Santa Tracker action as well. These new consumer-oriented innovations from NORAD and its over 55 private partners help you become part of the worldwide Santa Claus mission:

  • New Website: The newly redesigned NORAD Tracks Santa website, www.noradsanta.org, went live on Sunday, December 1, 2013, featuring a holiday countdown, daily games and activities, videos, music and more.  Beyond a new look, features such as a 3D globe and new interactive games take advantage of today’s modern web.  The site is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese.
  • BING Maps and Cesium 3-D: Starting at 12:01 a.m. Mountain Standard Time on Dec. 24, website visitors can watch Santa make preparations for his flight through the Bing maps and Cesium technology to show a 2D or realistic 3D, interactive, real-time view of Santa’s journey.
  • Phone or Email: Then, at 4 a.m. MST (6 a.m. EST), trackers worldwide can speak with a live phone operator to ask about Santa’s whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or by sending an email to noradtrackssanta@outlook.com.
  • OnStar: Americans and Canadians on the road won’t have to follow the North Star to see where Santa and his reindeer are on Christmas Eve.  Subscribers to the automobile emergency support service OnStar can press the OnStar button in their vehicles to find Santa’s location any time on Dec. 24. See how OnStar is helping NORAD track Santa on this video.
  • Santa Cams: NORAD’s newest “Santa Cams” will stream videos on the website as Santa makes his way over various locations in North America and all around the world.
  • Santa Tracker goes Mobile: Get the #NoradSanta apps from Windows, Android, iPhone & tablet by clicking here! Count down to Santa’s journey and more!

This video gives a history of how the Santa Tracker started in 1955 and some of the user technology.

Santa-Inspecting-Santa Cams at NORAD-Santa Tracker headquartersImage: Santa reviews the images from the new Santa Cams at NORAD headquarters. Source: NORAD.

Play Reindeer Games instead of War Games

NORAD Santa Tracker has a number of games and interactive features to help citizens become involved in the Santa tracking mission and enjoy the holiday season:

Santa-Village-Games-on-NORAD-Santa-Tracker-websiteClick to visit Santa’s Village on NORAD Santa Tracker and hear music and play games.


How can I get a copy of Guarding What You Value Most: North American Aerospace Defense Command Celebrating 50 Years, the wonderful hardcover book or eBook of 50 years of NORAD history chock full of color photos and anecdotes, including the Santa Tracker story?

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions 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.  She has been a faithful NORAD Tracks Santa fan for years!


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