Designing a Nation: Civic Art in the Nation’s Capital

April 17, 2014

The U.S. Capitol and National Mall are a beautiful representation of the dignity and public spirit of the United States of America. This area is steeped in history, and you can learn more about the past and continued efforts to design, build, and preserve the U.S. Capitol and National Mall through many government publications.

Brumidi-To-Make-Beautiful-the-CapitolWith its famous dome celebrating its 150th anniversary in December 2013, the United States Capitol is a treasure-trove of civic art. Just released, To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi gives a detailed history of renowned Italian-born artist Constantino Brumidi’s masterful work in “making beautiful” the walls and ceilings of the United States Capitol in a span of 25 years starting in 1854. Every page delights with gorgeous, full-color photographs and images of Brumidi’s art, from photographs of the frescoes and decoration, to sketches, paintings and images of the artist, particularly the Brumidi Corridors and his “monumental fresco” in the Capitol Rotunda, called The Apotheosis of Washington. Fascinating anecdotes are included throughout of the artist and the inspirations he received for various elements, his relationship with engineer Montgomery C. Meigs, and the conservation efforts to preserve his work accurately for posterity. Read more about this publication and others about art in the Capitol in our prior blog post, National Treasure: The art and architecture of the US Capitol.

The primary oversight board for projects in the National Mall area is the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which was established by an act of Congress on May 17, 1910 in Public Law 61-181. This commission was created as an independent review agency for the work of designing the national capitol and to guide the architectural development of Washington. The commission’s role was expanded with later passage of the Shipstead-Luce Act of 1930 (Public Law 71-231 and Public Law 76-248), and the Old Georgetown Act of 1950 (Public Law 81-808). The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts has a long history of guiding the development of the nation’s capital. Several resources are available in print and online to learn more about the commission’s history.

The National Park Service maintains a detailed guide linking to documents and reports that detail the area history. The Mall Cultural Landscape Inventory, part 2 contains several pages describing the history of the Senate Park Commission and its formation into the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.

Designing-the-nations-capitalThe U.S. Commission of Fine Arts published a monograph in 2006; Designing the nation’s capital: the 1901 plan for Washington D.C. This 359 page monograph contains illustrations in color and black and white, as well as maps. The National Park Service provides full text access to this title online.

In addition to this title, several editions of this history of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts from 1910 to date were published in 1964, 1977, 1981, 1985, 1991, and 1996.

Civic Art : a centennial history of the U.S. Commission of Fine ArtsThe most recent addition to the volumes available about the history of the commission is celebrates 100 years of the work of the commission. Civic Art : a centennial history of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts is a beautiful, 626 page monograph with illustrations, maps and plans. It is a comprehensive history of the agency and includes original essays by prominent architects and landscape architects including Arleyn Levee, Carroll William Westfall, and Richard Guy Wilson.

A Botanic Garden for the Nation: The United States Botanic GardenAnother beautiful book that features some of the history of the national mall area is A Botanic Garden for the Nation: The United States Botanic Garden. You can read more about this publication in a previous post on Government Book Talk.

For more information about the U.S. Capital building, you can also check out the publications highlighted in the previous Government Book Talk post on the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Capital Dome.

America’s Castle: the evolution of the Smithsonian Building and its institution, 1840-1878To read more about the history of the Smithsonian, you could visit a depository library and check out the publication, America’s Castle: the evolution of the Smithsonian Building and its institution, 1840-1878.

If you are interested in the official records of the commission, you can locate them at the National Archives. The record collection includes administrative history, annual reports, and a selection of still photographs. The records are divided between College Park, MD and Washington DC. Many of the records pertaining to the building and continued development of the National Mall are available at the National Archives, such as the National Park Service Records for the National Capital Region, and the Records of the Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital.

How Can I get this book and other publications about history of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts?

About the author: Our guest blogger is Cathy Wagner, a GPO Outreach Librarian for the U.S. Government Printing Office’s Library Services & Content Management (LSCM) Division. 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!


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.


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.


Government eBooks Made Easy– and Sometimes Free

December 19, 2013

Riding on Washington, DC’s Metrorail subway system these days, one sees more electronic devices in hand than print books (the same is true when I was in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and across the country). This reflects the revolution going on in the publishing industry nationwide with the astonishing growth of ebooks.

Reading-books-ebooks-ipad-on-subwayImage: Digital and print readers on the New York City subway. Courtesy: “corners311″ on Reddit.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, Bowker Market Research found that for the first half of 2013, e-book sales in the United States accounted for 14% of consumer dollars spent and 30% of all the units sold of any format of books.

The Rumors of [Print’s] Death are Greatly Exaggerated

However, print is far from dead. In fact, hardcover book sales in the U.S. were up over 10% through the first eight months of 2013, according to the latest numbers from the Association of American Publishers. And many users still prefer print for reference and textbooks.

Battle-of-ebooks-vs-print-booksImage: Infographic of the benefits of both ebooks and print books. Courtesy: Coupon Audit and Self Publishing Review.

When media research firm Voxburner questioned sixteen to 24-year-olds about their preferences for physical products versus digital content, printed books jump out as the media most desired in material form, ahead of movies (48%), newspapers and magazines (47%), CDs (32%), and video games (31%).

The two big reasons for preferring print are value for money and an emotional connection to physical books. On questions of ebook pricing, 28% think that ebooks should be half their current price, while just 8% say that ebook pricing is right. The top-rated reasons for preferring physical to digital products were: “I like to hold the product” (51%), “I am not restricted to a particular device” (20%), and “I can easily share it” (10%).

U.S. Government Bookstore Makes eBooks Easy

US-Government-bookstore-DRM-Free-eBooks at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/ebooksImage: U.S. Government Online Bookstore’s eBooks section.

Fortunately, the U.S. Federal Government addresses these issues with our new downloadable eBooks, as we launched our new eBooks section.

  • Not Restricted: All eBooks on the U.S. Government Bookstore website are non-proprietary. They are not restricted to a particular device or manufacturer, assuming the correct format is chosen. (See below for an explanation of ePub, Mobi, and PDF formats).
  • Easily shared: The eBooks on the U.S. Government Bookstore are DRM-free (Digital Rights Management) eBooks, meaning once you own a title, you can share it.
  • Economical Pricing:  Many eBooks on our website are free, and others are very reasonably priced, with the unlimited downloads and sharing.
  • Multiple Formats: For those who still “want to hold a product,” many of our titles are offered in print or eBook format, with users often buying both.
  • Third Party Channels: To expand the availability, GPO has set up partnerships to make these eBooks available on many of the top online retail and library channels such as BarnesandNoble.com,  Apple iBookstore, Google Play, Overdrive (for libraries).

To EPUB or MOBI, that is the question

Readers need to select the correct eBook format for their devices. PDFs work best on computers or if you want to print, since they are really like photocopies of a page. Text is not reflowable, meaning it is fixed on the page and does not automatically readjust if you want to change the font size or turn your device sideways.

For most users, EPUB format is the best, since it is the industry standard of most publishers and libraries. EPUB format eBooks can be used on most eReader devices like the Barnes & Noble Nook or Apple iPad, as well as on computers with free eReader software like Adobe Digital Editions.

If you want to read the eBook on an Amazon Kindle, you need to choose MOBI format eBooks.

On all of these eBooks on the U.S. Government Bookstore, you will need to side-load them onto your device, by downloading them and copying them to the particular device.

For more information about this, read our page on eBook Readers and Digital File Formats on the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website.

New and Newsworthy eBooks from the U.S. Government

Here are a few of the new and newsworthy DRM-free eBooks currently on the U.S. Government Bookstore to build your own online library of free and inexpensive ebooks:

FREE EBOOKS

Ponzimonium: How Scam Artists Are Ripping Off America (ePub eBook)Ponzimonium: How Scam Artists Are Ripping Off America (ePub eBook) Terrific book about Ponzi schemes and other investment fraud, the con artists who got caught, and how consumers can avoid these scams.

FAA_NextGen_Implementation_Plan_2013_ 9780160920714FAA NextGen Implementation Plan (ePub eBook) Provides a roadmap of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) transition to the next generation of smarter, satellite-based and digital technologies and new procedures to make air travel more convenient, predictable and environmentally friendly.

NEWSWORTHY EBOOKS

A Basic Guide to Exporting: The Official Government Resource for Small and MediuA Basic Guide to Exporting: The Official Government Resource for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses 10th Revised edition (ePub eBook)

For more than 70 years, A Basic Guide to Exporting has been the resource that businesses have turned to for answers to their questions
about how to establish and grow overseas markets for their products and services. Whether your firm is new to exporting or in need of a refresher on the latest ideas and techniques, this comprehensive guide, now
completely revised and updated, provides the nuts-and-bolts information you will need to meet the challenges of the world economy.

The U.S. is the world’s largest exporter of products and services, but a comparatively small percentage of businesses actually do it. The business owners that export find it lucrative, educational and endlessly fascinating as their work brings them into close contact with people and cultures worldwide. This book profiles 25 Americans who battled competitors, fear of the unknown, and personal adversity to build successful small businesses in the global marketplace.

The Children's Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood (ePub eBook)The Children’s Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood (ePub eBook) Comprehensive history of the Children’s Bureau from 1912-2012 in eBook format that shares the Bureau’s legacy of leadership and commitment to improving the safety, permanency and well-being of children, youth and families.

9/11 Commission Report (ePub eBook)9/11 Commission Report (ePub eBook) Contains the final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission), an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002. This edition has been designated as the only official U.S. Government edition of the 9-11 Commission’s Final Report. It provides a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. It also includes recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.

Wings in Orbit is an authoritative documentation of the many accomplishments of the NASA Space Shuttle Program. Starting with a foreword written by astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen, this compelling book provides accurate, authentic and easily understood accounts from NASA’s best subject matter experts and external resources. The book captures the passion of those who devoted their energies to the Program’s success for more than three decades. It focuses on their science and engineering accomplishments, the rich history of the program and the shuttle as an icon in U.S. history.

How can I obtain these eBooks?

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the links above in this blog post or  clicking here to shop our eBooks 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.

Federal Agencies: Interested in seeing your eBooks here?

If you are with a U.S. Federal Government agency and wish to see your print or digital publications made available on the U.S. Government Bookstore or need dissemination of your publications, contact us.

Click here to read about all Government Printing Office services for Federal agencies.

About the Authors: 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 publicStephanie Jaeger is Sales & Marketing Coordinator for GPO’s Sales & Marketing Division and is responsible for marketing GPO’s publishing services to the Federal sector.


Oh, say, can you tree? American Christmas tree traditions

December 17, 2013

Victorian German style Christmas Xmas tree1899To anyone who enjoys Christmas trees, we say “Wie treu sind deine Blätter!” This means “how faithful are your branches”, a line from “O Tannenbaum,” the German Christmas carol. “O Tannenbaum” (Oh Christmas Tree)* was originally a folk song from Germany that’s been translated to English and sung here in the United States for years. In fact, Nat King Cole sang a classic version in German if you’re ever interested in hearing the original version. A bit of trivia: *The tune for “O Tannenbaum” is also used for the state song of Maryland—if you’re from there, or went to university there, you might have heard the state song if you haven’t heard the holiday version! Just like they got us hooked on the song about evergreens, Germany was instrumental in getting us hooked on the decorated Christmas tree tradition as well.

German immigrants really started the modern craze for Christmas trees that came to the United States in the early 1800s. Queen Victoria, who helped set fashions for the Western world in the mid to late 1800s, helped the trend along with her family Christmas tree (which she may have learned about from her German husband, Albert). (Image above depicts a Victorian era Christmas celebration.)

The evergreen tree is likely a Yule custom carried over and remade from Celtic and/or Scandinavian pagans. Regardless of the origins of the custom of bringing an evergreen into your dwelling place during the year’s darkest days, this much is for sure: having a Christmas tree is now a tried and true American holiday tradition.

Since Christmas trees have become more secular and are so popular, the Christmas tree industry is a huge business in the United States. In 2007, Americans spent over $460 million on cut trees. The Federal government wants to support this industry, and people’s holiday happiness.

TREE AND FIRE SAFETY

To help people keep their holidays safe, the Federal government publishes a number of Christmas tree fire safety publications, such as the U.S. Fire Safety Administration’s (USFA) Christmas/Christmas Tree Fires and December and Holiday Fires.

FEMA-USFA-holiday-fire-safety-infographicImage: US Fire Safety Administration’s Winter Holiday Fire Safety infographic.

According to the USFA, fire deaths increase by 50% between December 24 and 26, and injuries during that period increase by 61%.  As the USFA pointed out, “In residential structure fires where the ignition point is a Christmas tree or other holiday decoration, the fire is typically more severe in every measurable way (p.2)”. For tips on avoiding Christmas tree fires, and to view a video on proper Christmas tree safety, take a look at USFA’s Holiday & Christmas Tree Fire Safety Outreach Materials. You’ll be able to increase your awareness and look out for your family’s welfare while continuing to enjoy your household decorations.

CUTTING YOUR OWN TREE FROM A NATIONAL FOREST

If you and/or your family enjoy going out to pick a tree and cut it, you might be able to pick one up from a national forest. For example, the Federal government has harvested all of the Capitol Christmas trees from national forests. In fact, the 2009 tree was a blue spruce that came from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

Certain forests have designated areas where it is possible to cut Christmas trees, once you have paid for your cutting permit. Contact your local national forest for its policies; you’re especially likely to find Christmas tree cutting areas in the West. Some national forests post their Christmas tree maps online. You can download Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Soldotna, Alaska: Christmas Tree Cutting Areas and Maps of 2013 Cutting Areas in the Apache and Sitgreaves National Forests. You’ll be pulling your tree from a prestigious tree-growing area, if you do decide to get a permit from a national forest.

The trees are for personal use only, and Forest Service allows only one tree per household. Permits for the trees are quite cheap, compared to what I paid at my local Washington, DC, area hardware store. You do have to factor into the cost a bit more money for the gas it takes to haul a tree out of the forest and get it home. However, some experiences, such as holiday traditions spent together with family and friends, are priceless.

PLANTING AND CARING FOR YOUR LIVE TREE

Why-would-anyone-cut-a-tree-down? by US Forest Service ISBN: 9780160916267Some families buy live Christmas trees then plant them when the holidays are over, while others use a cut tree for the holidays then plant a new tree in the spring as a symbol of renewal.

To explain to children the need for cutting trees as well as the value of this renewable resource, the Forest Service has published the best-selling publication “Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down?” It is full of explanations of need to remove trees for fire management and helping prevent overcrowding, and gives instructions on how to plant a tree as well.

How-to-Prune-Trees How-to-Recognize-Defects-in-TreesTo care for your live tree once it’s planted, be sure to check out How to Prune Trees to keep your tree looking and growing its best.

And the useful How To Recognize Hazardous Defects in Trees will help you identify problems in a tree that could be detrimental to its health.

FAMOUS WASHINGTON, DC AREA CHRISTMAS TREES

Here in the Nation’s capital, there are a number of famous Christmas trees.

National Christmas Tree and the Pathway of Peace

Since 1923, the United States has held a tradition of having a National Christmas Tree lighting in Washington, DC, starting with President Coolidge lighting the “First National Christmas Tree.” Starting in 1954, a “Pathway of Peace,” 56 smaller, decorated trees representing all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia were planted surrounding the National Christmas Tree. They stay decorated through New Year’s Day.

2012-National-Tree_Pathway-of-PeaceImage: 2012 National Christmas Tree and Pathway of Peace on Ellipse behind the White House. Credit: National Park Service

Today, the annual lighting ceremony on the Ellipse—the grassy area south of the White House— is usually televised with tickets given by lottery in advance, with celebrities and the President and First Family doing the honors of lighting the National Christmas Tree and kicking off the season.

The Capitol Christmas Tree

The annual Capitol Christmas Tree lighting held on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol has been an American tradition since 1964 and is a great holiday event that you don’t want to miss. However, the official practice of lighting the “Capitol Christmas Tree” did not start until 1968 according to the Architect of the Capitol.

2013-Capitol-Xmas-TreeImage: 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree. Image source: Architect of the Capitol.

The Capitol Christmas Tree should not to be confused with the National Christmas Tree, which is planted near the White House and lighted every year by the President and First Lady. The Speaker of the House officially lights the Capitol Christmas Tree.

“Yule” Scream for the Norwegian Embassy Tree

A lesser known but charming Capital City tradition comes from Norway. Since 1996, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C. has given a Christmas tree to the American people as a symbol of friendship between the United States and Norway. The lighted tree is usually decorated with both U.S. and Norwegian flags, and can be found in DC’s Union Station train station. As explained by the Norwegian ambassador in the annual lighting ceremony attended by high-level U.S. military  and Government officials as guests, the gift of the Norway-US friendship tree also express Norway’s gratitude for the assistance received from the United States during and after World War II.

Tusen-takk-Amerika or Thank you, America banner from the Norwegian Embassy's 2013 Friendship Christmas Tree at Union Station in Washington, DC. Photo copyright: Michele BartramImage: Norwegian Embassy’s “Thank you, America” (Tusen Takk, Amerika!) banner at base of the Norwegian-US Friendship Xmas tree at Washington, DC’s Union Station in 2013. Image credit: Michele Bartram

From a distance, all you see are the 20,000 lights and the American and Norwegian flags cascading up the 32-foot tree. Upon closer inspection, this year’s visitors found 700 little reflective screaming faces on ornaments Norwegian-Embassy-Tree-Edvard-Munch-Scream-ornament-2013 from the Norwegian Embassy's 2013 Friendship Christmas Tree at Union Station in Washington, DC. Photo copyright: Michele Bartramdepicting Norwegian artist Edward Munch’s infamous “Scream” painting—placed on the tree by the humorous Norwegians in honor of 2013’s 150th anniversary of Munch’s birth.

In a way, [the “Scream”] symbolizes all the angst in preparing for an excellent Christmas,” said Norwegian Ambassador Kare Aas to the Washington Post with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Image: Edvard Munch “Scream” 2013 ornament and flag of Norway on the Norwegian Embassy Friendship Christmas Tree. Image credit: Michele Bartram

Just taking a drive around the National Mall on a December night, seeing the National Christmas Tree and the Pathway of Peace, the national menorah, the Capitol Christmas Tree, and the Norway-US Friendship Tree can put you in more of a holiday mood.

GIFTS FOR UNDER YOUR TREE

Incidentally, if you’re still looking for holiday gifts to go under your tree, GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore has loads of gift suggestions on their Gift Guides & Calendars page. Or give an eBook for a great last-minute gift to anyone around the world.

Hanukkah is past this year and there are only a few days left before Christmas day, but then again, there are always gift opportunities on Hogmanay, New Year’s Day, and Three King’s Day (Los Reyes Magos)/ Epiphany, too!

HOW CAN YOU GET THE PUBLICATIONS LISTED HERE?

And remember, worldwide standard SHIPPING IS FREE on the U.S. Government Bookstore website, so shop away!

  • Shop Online: Download the free publications listed by clicking on the links in the article above.
    You can purchase the print and ebook publications mentioned from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the individual links above in this blog post or the links below:

  • 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(s): Adapted and expanded by Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and the US Government Printing Office (GPO) Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram, from an original blog post by Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). Happy holidays from us both!


Gift-Giving Traditions and 12 Books of Christmas

December 5, 2013

ORIGINS OF HOLIDAY GIFT-GIVING

For centuries, Europeans and North Americans have been giving gifts around Christmastime.

Sing-heigh-ho-ancient-British-yule-log on Christmas cardImage: Ancient Britons carrying a Yule log and holly branches. Source: From the bottom of the barrel blog.

The practice dates to the pagan and druid peoples of Rome, the British Isles and Scandinavian countries. The Romans gave gifts or money for gift-giving at Saturnalia, a winter festival that lasted seven days; according to some sources, the gift-giving occurred on the last day of Saturnalia (December 23). When the Romans conquered Britain, they incorporated pagan religious practices into their festivals, so that the locals felt more integrated into the Roman Empire. Pagans and Druids celebrated the winter solstice festival, Yule, and although by many accounts it was not the most important pagan festival, it was celebrated quite a bit. Any visitors to the Irish Neolithic pagan monument Brú na Bóinne** are left in no doubt of that. The pagans may have given gifts at the Yule celebration as well.

Christianity later took over much of Europe, and the Christians, like the Romans, learned that the best way to truly conquer was not to divide, but to incorporate. Gift-giving became a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, just as pagan Yule branches became “Christmas trees”. Although the pilgrims at Massachusetts formally outlawed public celebrations of Christmas for twenty-two years, the whole Christmas juggernaut eventually won out in the United States.

Giving gifts at Christmastime eventually became de rigueur, even for secular and non-Christian people. American Jews in the late nineteenth century started to promote Hanukkah—a minor Jewish festival—as a time for Jewish parents to give their own children gifts, so that American Jewish children wouldn’t feel left out when their peers got gifts. And although Kwanzaa isn’t supposed to include gifts, some parents give their children gifts on Kwanzaa days. It seems that few Americans, despite their religious convictions, can resist the ritual of end-of year gift-giving and the ties the practice strengthens among us.

12_books_of_christmas-bannerImage courtesy Scholastic.

So by now we’ve worn the stretchy pants for Thanksgiving, and powered through the mall on Black Friday. On Cyber Monday, as I write this, it’s time to get ready for some serious shopping: we’re in the middle of Hanukkah, and we’ve got a mere twenty-three days before Christmas and twenty-four days before Kwanzaa. You need to get some creative gifts, stat. For help with this goal, turn to GPO’S US Government Bookstore, especially the wallet-friendly Bargains Under $20 page—it’ll help you wipe out your stocking stuffer list in a red-hot minute. That said, here are 12 solid suggestions for your holiday gift-giving, no matter what holiday you’re celebrating at this time of year!

KIDS’ CORNER BOOKS

Fun-with-Fire-SafetyYou need to get something small to give your little ones as well as the big presents, and it encourages your kids to read more if you give books as gifts. Fire trucks nearly always captivate the pre-K set: show them a picture of a fire truck, complete with cute Dalmatian, and their attention is rapt. Marty and Jett’s Activity Book: Let’s Have Fun with Fire Safety (US $5.00 includes FREE shipping) activity book comes with cutouts for junior fire badges and finger puppets, coloring pages, a maze, and a fill-in-the-blanks puzzle. There’s a list of important things for kids to remember in a fire. Most schools now include this information in their curriculum, so the book is a good reinforcement of that learning—and it’s also a coloring book. This little volume’s a slam-dunk: educational and amusing, all in one cute package.

BLM-Junior-Explorer-Geology-and-FossilsDoes the child in your life love picking up interesting shells or rocks at the beach or park? Then he or she will love this Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Junior Explorer Geology and Fossils Activity Book (US $7.00 includes FREE shipping) that includes fun facts, a crossword puzzle, and activities about rocks and fossils for explorers ages 8 to 12, along with a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Junior Explorer Certificate that proves the child is a true budding “rock star.”

Junior-Palentologist-Activity-BookIs your child or grandchild a fan of Jurassic Park or Dinosaur Train? Then be sure to pick up the National Park Service’s Junior Paleontologist Activity Book, Ages 5-12, Explore, Learn, Protect Activity Book (US $6.00 includes FREE shipping) in which kids can learn about dinosaurs, explore some of the US national parks that offer you a look into this ancient past, and complete fun activities that will let them earn a junior paleontologist badge.

Deliciously-Healthy-Family-MealsFor busy parents who want to make healthy meal preparation a family affair, Keep the Beat™ Recipes: Deliciously Healthy Family Meals (ON SALE US $10.50 includes FREE shipping) is a delightful kid-friendly healthy cookbook developed by a single father and nutritionists that features delicious, heart-healthy, kid-friendly recipes and also provides tips for involving children in meal preparation. The appendix is loaded with information on meal planning, cooking, and nutrition for families and children to help combat obesity and diabetes.

NON-FICTION MULTIMEDIA AND PRINT BOOKS

Baptism-by-Fire-CIA-Korean-War-analysisWith an 85-year-old war Korean War veteran from America currently detained in North Korea while on a tourist trip, this new eBook from the CIA is very timely. Before North Korean forces invaded the South on 25 June 1950, the CIA had only a few officers in Korea, and none reported to the CIA’s analytic arm, the Office of Research and Estimates (ORE). With an accompanying DVD that contains over 1,300 recently declassified documents and more than 5,000 pages of material, this Baptism by Fire, CIA Analysis of the Korean War multimedia book-and-DVD set (US $18.00 includes FREE shipping) sums up the analysis by the then only 3-year old Central Intelligence Agency about the Korean Conflict and the generally low priority given the region by the Truman Administration’s State Department and the US Armed Forces.

YouTube-WarThe evolution of digital information and communication technologies have developed to such a point that terrorists can film, edit, and upload their own attacks to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other websites within minutes of staging them, whether the Western media are present or not. In this radically new information environment, the enemy no longer depends on traditional media. This is the “YouTube War.” The new book YouTube War: Fighting in a World of Cameras in Every Cell Phone and Photoshop on Every Computer (US $16.00 includes FREE shipping) lays out the nature of the new digital and online media environment in terms of its implications for a war against media-savvy insurgents, and then considers possible courses of action for the Army and the U.S. military.

Crossing-Cultures-with-the-Peace-CorpsCrossing Cultures with the Peace Corps: Peace Corps Letters from the Field (US $17.00 includes FREE shipping) is a great offering for a school or college student, a teacher, a newly or soon-to-retire person, or someone who likes reading about other cultures. Although the authors structured the book for use in schools, and includes lesson plans at the end of each letter, reading the letters is good entertainment for anyone. You can learn things about Togolese family life, Chinese average salaries, South African attitudes about AIDs, and the native tongue of Paraguay, Guaraní. Studying cultural attitudes of other societies always makes you appreciate your own society, and it may even make you want to learn more about others. This book will make you reflect on what you value, even while you walk away with some good talking points for your next party.

The-First-LadiesThe First Ladies (US $17.00 includes FREE shipping) is the perfect book for the history buff, art historian, costume designer or fashionista in your family. Each page features a biography of every first lady, and her official portrait in full color on the facing page. You can read the accomplishments and tribulations of each FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States) from Martha Washington through Laura Bush, watch the trends in ladies’ dress and portraiture change, and learn some interesting tidbits of American historical trivia. This book was my favorite Christmas gift when I was twelve, and the passage of time since then makes it nearly a classic today.

National-Wildlife-Refuge-System-Visitor-GuideNational Wildlife Refuge System: A Visitor’s Guide (US $5.00 includes FREE shipping) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages a “…diverse system of 500+ refuges encompassing almost 92 million acres of lands and waters spans the continent from Alaska’s Arctic tundra to the tropical forests in Florida; from the secluded atolls of Hawaii to the moose- trodden bogs of Maine.” Most of the book is composed of full-color maps. You can plan your next trip with the help of these maps, either for a weekend or a full two-week blowout in summer. This print edition is back-pocket friendly for a day out on the trail.

How-to-Prune-TreesHow to Prune Trees (ON SALE US $2.00 includes FREE shipping) is a great gift for any homeowner. While some may think pruning trees is quite simple, you actually have to know when to trim a tree, in what weather to trim it, and why you would trim a tree, etc. Pruning is a fairly complicated task; if you trim a tree incorrectly, you can kill it. It costs quite a bit to buy a new tree from a nursery, and a long time to grow a new one. Investing a mere $2 in this color-illustrated guide might save you or your gift’s recipient big bucks, and after a few reads, give the satisfaction of mastering a new art.

NON-FICTION EBOOKS

If eBooks are on your gift-giving list, try these new DRM-free downloadable offerings:

Exporters-Wit-and-Wisdom-of-Small-Business-OwnersExporters! The Wit and Wisdom of Small Business Owners Who Sell Globally (ePub eBook) (US $7.99) profiles 25 Americans who battled competitors, fear of the unknown, and personal adversity to build successful small export businesses in the global marketplace. Alternately humorous, amazing and inspirational, their stories also serve as valuable advice for readers wanting to follow their example and start exporting.

Childrens-Bureau-LegacyThe Children’s Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood (ePub eBook) (US $9.99) shares the 100-year legacy of this landmark agency that established the first Federal Government programs, research and social reform initiatives aimed to improve the safety, permanency and well-being of children, youth and families.  It provides a fascinating exploration of the evolution of America and our treatment of children through each Presidential Administration as it covers often inspiring and sometimes heart-wrenching topics such as: ending child labor, the Orphan Trains and the controversial Indian Boarding Schools; adoption and foster care; infant and maternal mortality; Aid to Dependent Children; support of US military families and care of European World War II refugee children; early childhood education Head Start; child abuse and neglect; and much more.

AND OUR FREE E-GIFT TO YOU

Fifty years have not erased the controversy and angst of the fateful day of November 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas. (See our blog post Remembering Camelot: Best of the old and new official publications about John F. Kennedy.)

GPO-WARREN-COMMISSION-REPORT-on-the-Assassination-of-President-John-F-Kennedy-JFKTo commemorate this tragic event, the Government Printing Office (GPO) is offering a free digitized version of the full, original (and now long out-of-print) Official Report on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (PDF) (FREE DOWNLOAD) by The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known as the Warren Commission. Sort through the evidence, interviews, and facts that were available to the Commission in the ten months following the assassination, and make your own conclusions about the crime and the report’s “single shooter” finding.

FREE SHIPPING ADDS TO THE JOY OF GIVING

When you’re looking for the perfect gift this holiday season, spend some time shopping through GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore. And remember, worldwide standard SHIPPING IS FREE on the U.S. Government Bookstore website, so shop away!  After all, there’s enough there to stuff a sleigh (or a million dreidels ;-).

How can I obtain these 12 Bargain Books?

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the links above in this blog post or clicking here to shop all our BARGAINS UNDER $20 publications.
  • 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.

** Brú na Bóinne is a carved stone underground chamber that lights up to show the carvings on the stone walls only on the winter solstice, December 21.

About the author(s): Adapted by Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and the US Government Printing Office (GPO) Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram, from an original blog post by Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). Happy holidays from us both!


National Treasure: The art and architecture of the US Capitol

December 2, 2013

One hundred and fifty years ago today, on December 2, 1863, the United States Capitol Dome was completed, adding its own distinctive grandeur to the skyline of our Nation’s capital city.

Last month in November 2013, a two-year project began to restore the aging dome. Read all about it on the Architect of the Capitol’s website about the US Capitol Restoration Project at http://www.aoc.gov/dome.

While most of the focus on the Capitol these days pertains to politics, this anniversary is an appropriate time to reflect on the art and architecture of one of our National Treasures, the US Capitol, along with the artists, architects and engineers who helped make it a showplace worthy of a world class city. Following are a few of the more outstanding publications about the US Capitol art and architecture.

Glenn Brown’s History of the United States Capitol

Glenn-Brown-History-of-the-United-States-CapitolPrepared for the Bicentennial of the construction of the United States Capitol in 1994, Glenn Brown’s History of the United States Capitol is the definitive history of the construction of the Capitol, including the many trials and tribulations along the way, such as the burning of the Capitol by the British in August 1814 during the War of 1812.

Glenn-Brown_US-Capitol-after-British-burning-in-War-of-1812Image: US Capitol exterior after the fire from the British burning of Washington. From Glenn Brown’s History of the United States Capitol

Capital Engineers: The US Army Corps of Engineers and the Development of Washington DC, 1790-2004

In his introductory address kicking off the second inauguration of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden on January 21, 2013, Senator Schumer (D-N.Y.) remarked on the completion of the Capitol Dome 150 years ago—just two years ahead of President Lincoln’s second inauguration on March 4, 1865:

When Abraham Lincoln took office [in 1861], two years earlier the dome above us was a half-built eyesore… Conventional wisdom was that it should be left unfinished until the war ended, given the travails and financial needs of the times. But to President Lincoln the half-finished dome symbolized the half divided nation. Lincoln said, ‘If people see the Capitol going on it is a sign we intend the union shall go on.’ And so, despite the conflict which engulfed the nation, and surrounded the city, the dome continued to rise.”

Capital Engineers: The US Army Corps of Engineers and the Development of Washington DC, 1790-2004 ISBN: 9780160795572The Army Corps of Engineers played a significant role in the design and construction of the Capitol Dome and the rest of Washington, DC. In the enjoyable and anecdote-filled book entitled Capital Engineers: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Development of Washington, D.C. 1790-2004, readers can discover the politics, passion, inspiration and innovation that went into crafting the landmark historic monuments, public buildings and infrastructure that makes up the Nation’s capital, including sketches and insider stories about the design and construction of the United States Capitol and Dome.

You can read the detailed review of this fun and fact-filled book under our earlier blog post, The Untold Story Behind the Engineering of Washington DC. Lincoln-First-Inauguration-at-US-CapitolImage: First Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1861, beneath the unfinished Capitol dome. Source: Library of Congress

NEW! To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi

To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi, 2013 edition, ISBN: 9780160921001Once the Dome was completed, it was decided that it needed to be a showcase of the finest art. For those visitors lucky enough to come to Washington, DC, and take a tour of the Capitol, they marvel at the “monumental fresco” in the Capitol Rotunda, called The Apotheosis of Washington, that reminds one of the Sistine Chapel and the incredible frescoes along the walls and ceilings of the corridors and special rooms, such as the President’s Room.

In this stunning new publication, To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi, the United States Senate Office of the Curator provides an updated history of the work on the Capitol by Italian-born artist, Constantino Brumidi, who spent the last 25 years of his life making the Capitol into an awe-inspiring piece of art worthy of his own native land’s masterpieces with his frescoes and decoration of the walls and ceilings. Includes new discoveries about the artist, his inspirations and genius resulting from recent extensive restoration of his work to its original glory.

US Capitol The Brumidi Corridors, from To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi ISBN: 9780160921001 Image: The Brumidi Corridors, from To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi

United States Senate Catalogue of Fine Art

United States Senate Catalogue of Fine Art ISBN 9780160511721Visitors to the finished Capitol are often surprised by both its stunning architectural details and the impressive art complementing the interior spaces. Now, those works of art–ranging from portraits of prominent senators to depictions of significant events in U.S. history–are accessible to everyone through the publication of the United States Senate Catalogue of Fine Art. Prepared by the Office of Senate Curator, the catalogue represents the first comprehensive effort to illustrate and interpret this rich collection of 82 sculptures, 75 paintings, 2 enameled mosaics, and 1 stained glass window. Capitol_George-Washington-Memorial-WindowImage: Stained glass George Washington Memorial Window, by Maria Herndl in 1904, from United States Senate Catalogue of Fine Art

The 160 pieces in the catalogue represent the work of 111 artists, including such celebrated figures as Gilbert Stuart, Alexander Calder, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Thomas Sully, and Daniel Chester French. Many of the works feature prominent senators, including portraits of Everett McKinley Dirksen, Mike Mansfield, and Robert A. Taft, and small bronze sculptures of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.

A majority of the people depicted are immediately recognizable, such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Benjamin Franklin, but there are also lesser-known figures include the Ojibwa Indian Chief Be Sheekee (Buffalo) who was in Washington to negotiate a peace treaty the year he died, and Senate employee Isaac Bassett, who came to the Senate in 1831 as one of the first pages and stayed until 1895, when he was an elderly doorkeeper. Capitol_Ojibwa-Indian-Chief-Be-SheekeeImage: Marble bust of Indian Chief Be sheekee, or Buffalo, by sculptor Francis Vincenti in 1856

Although portraits dominate the collection, the American landscape is represented by an oil painting of Niagara Falls in winter. Major events are also documented, such as the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln and the first manned moon landing. There are two special collections: a collection of vice presidential busts, and a series of paintings of major U.S. army posts completed by Seth Eastman.

Eastman Forts Print Set

In 1870, the House Committee on Military Affairs commissioned artist Seth Eastman to paint 17 images of important U.S. Army forts in the United States after the Civil War. He completed the works between 1870 and 1875. For many years, the fort paintings hung in the rooms assigned to the House Military Affairs Committee, first in the Capitol and later in the Cannon House Office Building. During the late 1930s, they were returned to the Capitol for public display. Of the 17 paintings, 8 are located today in the Senate wing. Seth Eastman US Army Forts paintings Print Set

This Eastman Forts Print Set includes a booklet, “The Eastman Forts, A Guide to the Print Set,” and 10 color prints of Eastman paintings of the following ten forts: Fort Mackinac in Michigan; Mifflin in Pennsylvania; Trumbull in Connecticut; Tompkins and Wadsworth in New York; Scammel and Gorges in Maine; Delaware in Delaware; Snelling in Minnesota; Taylor in Florida; Defiance in New Mexico (now Arizona); and Fort Rice in North Dakota. Painting of Fort Trumbull, Connecticut, by Seth Eastman hanging in the US CapitolImage: A painting of Fort Trumbull, Connecticut, by Seth Eastman, commissioned by the U.S. Army in 1870, and hanging in the US Capitol. Part of the Eastman Forts Print Set.

United States Senate Catalogue of Graphic Art

US-Senate-Catalogue-of-Graphic-ArtSome of the art about the Capitol was not included in the building itself, but was produced outside of it by the press and media of the day. Prior to the advent of modern media with color photographs and live audio and video, Americans received their news and images from newspapers and illustrated news magazines, which included both hard news and softer features full of engravings, portraits, political cartoons, and illustrations.

The United States Senate Catalogue of Graphic Art reflects this coverage mix of both hard and soft news. The catalogue includes prints involving the Senate that depict important events of the day such as the debate over slavery, the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson, and presidential inaugurations. But also featured are prints capturing the daily rhythms of the Senate such as the crowded Capitol corridors, Senate pages delivering documents, lobbyists pleading their case, meals in the Senate dining room, and idyllic scenes of the Capitol building and grounds.

Capitol-Interior-Rotunda-1853How can I obtain these publications about the US Capitol Art and Architecture?

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the links above in this blog post or  clicking here to shop our US Capitol Art publications.
  • 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 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.


Be a NOAA-it-all with these FREE NOAA resources about the weather and oceans

November 12, 2013

In the morning when I get on the elevator up to my office in GPO headquarters, when they aren’t talking about sports, everyone is chatting about the weather. My colleagues compare the day’s weather with previous years and talk about what’s coming in the days and seasons ahead. Since Washington, DC’s weather varies greatly throughout the year (even through the day!), people in this area are always taking the pulse of the outdoors and our world. In a similar vein, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA, the U.S. Government’s oldest scientific agency, is taking the pulse of the Earth, for our benefit.

Graohic of NOAA services from Explore NOAA movie on Government Book Talk by GPOClick here to “Explore NOAA” in this movie about the Nation’s oldest scientific agency. 

You can be a NOAA-it-all with these FREE online resources

NOAA says that “Our reach goes from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor as we work to keep citizens informed of the changing environment around them.” As such, its mission is to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.

Once they’ve taken the Earth’s pulse, of course NOAA wants to share the output of their studies. The data the agency gathers when studying the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans is comprehensive, and it is a global leader in communicating how Earth’s atmosphere and water systems influence people’s lives and how they influence those systems. If you learn how to navigate the range of NOAA’s free online resources, including real-time and archived information, you will get the full benefit of this rich data.

NOAA educates and disseminates data from its many valuable services, including the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Ocean Service, the National Weather Service and others. Their information comes packaged in videos, weather alerts, digital coastal charts, entire databases, atlases, podcasts, screensavers, sea sounds, field reports, tagging data, and an entire education Web site for teachers and kids. NOAA has resources for children that are as unique and valuable as their science.

Whether to Weather

For instance, NOAA’s Weather Systems and Patterns page has a multimedia, lessons and activities, real world data, background information and career profiles. A student who is interested in extreme weather can graph tornado air pressure in the lessons section, investigate the severe weather events page in the real world data, track a storm in the multimedia section, read the background on severe weather, and even flirt with future career possibilities in the career profile of the tornado chaser.

NOAA Watch out-- Storms Ahead! Owlie Skywarn's Weather Book available from http://bookstore.gpo.govIf the student wants to follow up with extra reading at home with advice for the whole family,  Watch out– Storms Ahead! Owlie Skywarn’s Weather Book can help round out the lesson. Total immersion in a topic is possible without ever leaving the site.

Free resources for teachers and students is a bonus that teachers, parents, caregivers and students should take full advantage of, and NOAA’s Education Resources page is a just one prime example what the agency’s got on offer for the American people.

Coastal Maps and Navigational Charts

Another instance of NOAA’s rich resources is its coastal maps. NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey recently announced that they were no longer issuing printed U.S. Coastal maps; instead, they now make high-resolution Raster Navigational Charts for public use. The Office of Coast Survey offers over high quality, 400 dpi full-color digital images of NOAA’s entire suite of paper charts, for download and printing. Sailors, commercial fisherman, and anyone else interested can view and print these charts as well as the free Air Almanac, Nautical Almanac and Navigational Charts available from http://bookstore.gpo.govdemo software to use them; this is data of high commercial value available completely for free for the American people as well.

Note that up-to-date, printed US Government astronomical, air and nautical navigational charts and almanacs are still available from the US Government Bookstore under Transportation & Navigation > Almanacs & Navigation Guides.

Webinar on NOAA’s Free Online Resources

Librarians and Teachers: Attending tomorrow’s joint NOAA-GPO webinar, “Discover Your World With NOAA: Learn How NOAA Monitors the Pulse of the Earth, and How to Access and Use NOAA’s Free Online Resources” is a great way you can learn to reap the benefit of NOAA’s rich data offerings. Registration for this free training webinar is available now. It will be offered Wednesday, November 13 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time;  GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division (LSCM) will archive the session on the free GPO Webinar Archive for those who cannot attend. Hopefully you can make it to the live webinar or find some time to look at the archived webinar after it takes place.

NOAA’s Ark of Great Reads

IUnderstanding Marine Debris: Games & Activities for Kids of All Ages: Marine Debris 101 ISBN 9780160913624 available from bookstore.gpo.govn addition to attending the webinar, you can mine some of NOAA’s resources by reading some of these stellar NOAA publications:

Satellite-Images-to-Accpompany-the-Globe-Earth-System-Poster-Learning-NOAA-9780160864643

How can I obtain these NOAA publications?

1)    FOR THE PUBLIC

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the links above in this blog post or clicking here to shop our entire NOAA 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.

2)    FOR LIBRARIANS

About the author(s): Adapted by Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and the US Government Printing Office (GPO) Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram, from an original blog post by Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP).


The Constitution Annotated: The Pursuit of App-iness

September 17, 2013

follow-the-founding-fathers-david-bowman_computerIn preparing for this Constitution Day blog post, not only did I retake the civics quiz from last year’s Constitution Day post (see Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grade Civics student?), I also scrolled through my tablet last night, reading the Preamble to the Constitution and looking up related quotes. Then it occurred to me: if Founding Father George Washington had been alive today, would he have been a PC or an Apple guy? I’m betting our pragmatic First President would be a PC guy. I’m pretty sure innovator Thomas Jefferson would have been a stylish iPad man, and Benjamin Franklin, inventor of the bifocals, would probably be sporting Google Glasses now and tinkering with them.

Image: Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington. Original Illustration by David Bowman from his book “What Would the Founding Fathers Think?”

constitution-annotated-printWhat is clear is that our Founding Fathers were strategic thinkers who realized that a fully functioning republic needed a clear but flexible code of law that evolved with the Nation. Thus, they wrote the Constitution of the United States, which has stood the test of time with over two centuries of amendments and interpretations by all branches of the U.S. Federal Government.

CONAN for the Librarian (and Lawyers)

Since 1913, the Senate has directed that a publication be issued summarizing the current state of the Constitution to date, with all the amendments and the official interpretations, with the analysis today provided by the Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Service. This publication is called The Constitution of the United States of America, Analysis and Interpretation, popularly known as the Constitution Annotated or “CONAN” among the real insiders.

Constitution-of-the-US-Pocket-GuideIn addition, many Americans, including Members of Congress, buy a pocket print edition of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence to carry around with them at all times. (Click on image to the left.)

Constitution Goes Mobile and Online

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Constitution Annotated publication, and to celebrate it and Constitution Day, the Government Printing Office (GPO) not only issued the Centennial Edition in print, but has also worked with the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration and the Library of Congress to develop and launch both a new mobile app as well as a web publication that make analysis and interpretation of constitutional case law by Library experts accessible for free to anyone with a computer or mobile device.

The new resources, which include analysis of Supreme Court cases through June 26, 2013, will be updated multiple times each year as new court decisions are issued.  Legal professionals, teachers, students and anyone researching the constitutional implications of a particular topic can easily locate constitutional amendments, federal and state laws that were held unconstitutional, and tables of recent cases with corresponding topics and constitutional implications.

The new app and improved web publication will make the nearly 3,000-page “Constitution Annotated” more accessible to more people and enable updates of new case analysis three or four times each year.

Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks said,

“Through this collaborative project, the Library of Congress and GPO are providing the public with timely access to an enhanced, authenticated version of the “Constitution Annotated” through GPO’s Federal Digital System. This is another example of how GPO works with Congress, the Library and other agencies to meet the information needs of the American people in the digital age.”

Keeping our “Complex Machinery” in Working Order

On May 19, 1821, years after the Constitution was adopted, John Adams wrote in a letter to Thomas Jefferson that:

“A free government is a complicated piece of machinery, the nice and exact adjustment of whose springs, wheels, and weights, is not yet well comprehended by the artists of the age, and still less by the people.”

Even though our Founding Fathers could not have envisioned a digital future complete with the Internet and smartphones, the framework they put in place has been able to roll with the times. Americans know that our system is indeed a “complicated piece of machinery,” with our laws serving as the user manual, but tools like the Constitution Annotated– in print or now online or on your mobile device– now exist to help keep our machinery of democracy well oiled.

George-Washingtons-Annotated-Copy-of-a-Draft-of-the-U.S.-ConstitutionImage: Even George Washington annotated his copy of the Constitution! (seen left). Source: National Archives

How can I obtain The Constitution Annotated?

1) Buy the Print Edition of The Constitution of the United States of America, Analysis and Interpretation, Centennial Edition

2) Mobile app version of the Constitution Annotated

  • For Apple iOS Devices: Download the new Constitution Annotated app for iOS devices for free from Apple’s iTunes Store or via this direct link: http://beta.congress.gov/constitution-annotated/.
  • ·        For Android Devices: An Android version of this app is under development.

3) Constitution Annotated web publication on FDsys.gov

The Constitution Annotated web publication will be available on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) www.fdsys.gov as a digitally-signed, searchable PDF that includes a linked table of contents, a linked table of cases, a linked index and GPO’s Seal of Authenticity on every page.

The new Constitution Annotated and a suite of constitutional resources can be viewed at http://beta.congress.gov/constitution-annotated/. The page features links to the app stores, an interactive table listing recent cases of high interest, a bibliography of Constitution-related primary documents in American history and tips for searching the Constitution Annotated on GPO’s website at www.gpo.gov/constitutionannotated.

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.


Code Talkers to Better Walkers: How American Indians Have Helped Fight Wars and Obesity

August 21, 2013

In honor of Navajo Code Talkers Day this past week on August 14, Government Book Talk explores some Federal publications that utilize American Indian traditions and culture to combat serious problems of the past and present.

Native Code Talkers in World War I

“Code talkers” became the term used to describe Native American soldiers from various Indian tribes who communicated on radios, telephones and telegraph during World Wars I and II. They spoke in their own languages and dialects, all of which were indecipherable by enemy forces. Because few non-Indians knew these difficult native languages, which in many cases had no written form, they provided ideal codes for relaying secret operational orders.

WWI-Choctaw-Code-Talkers-w-FlagImage: The Choctaw Code Talkers enlisted in the U.S. Army in World War I even though their lack of citizenship exempted them from the draft. (U.S. Army photo)

In France during World War I, the 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Division, had a company of Indians who spoke 26 languages and dialects. Two Indian officers were selected to supervise a communications system staffed by 18 Choctaw. The team transmitted messages relating to troop movements and their own tactical plans in their native tongue. They helped the American Expeditionary Force win several key battles in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign in France, the final big German push of the war.

Soldiers from other tribes, including the Cheyenne, Comanche, Cherokee, Osage and Yankton Sioux also were enlisted to communicate as code talkers. Previous to their arrival in France, the Germans had broken every American code used, resulting in the deaths of many Soldiers. However, the German Army— which captured about one out of four messengers—never broke the Indians’ “code.”

More Native Code Talkers are Used in World War II

After the United States entered World War II in December 1941, more Armed Forces used code talking units with each unit composed of members of a specific American Indian tribe.

Navajo Code Talkers

The United States Marines recruited several hundred Navajos for duty in the Pacific region. The Marines chose these Navajos for their ability to speak their native language, Diné bizaad (Navajo), for code talking.

Philip Johnston, a son of missionaries who had grown up on the Navajo reservation, originally recommended Navajo to the Marines as a language well suited for cryptology. In a memo to the Commandant of the Marine Corps in early 1942, Navajo was declared uniquely suited to succeed more than some other languages proposed for use. At that time, most Navajos were fluent in their native language. The Marines were lucky; in 1942 only an estimated 28 non-Navajo Americans could speak the extremely difficult Navajo language!

Hitler had heard of the possibility of using Native American languages for codes prior to the United States’ entry into the war, and had sent a number of German anthropologists to the United States prior to WWII to learn Native American languages. Navajo was reportedly the only language the German anthropologists had yet to learn. Navajo also benefited by being so unlike other Native American languages that there was no language similar to it. If you’re fluent in Spanish, you might be able to muddle along in Portuguese after some basic lessons. Navajo has no analog.

Navajo-Code-Talkers-in-JungleIn May 1942, the first Navajo recruits attended boot camp; they then moved to Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California, to create the Navajo Code Talkers Dictionary. The Marines trained approximately 400 Navajos as code talkers. To relay the messages they were encoding, they had to learn to operate three types of radios. At that time the code talkers called themselves “radiomen”.

The developers of the Navajo code modeled the alphabet portion on the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet. That alphabet uses words to represent letters, e.g., Fox for the letter F. In the Navajo code, Ne-Ahs-Jah is Navajo for Owl, which stood for the letter O. To spell the word Navy, the code talker might say, “Tsah (Needle, or N), Wol-La-Chee (Ant, or A), A-Keh-Di-Glini (Victor, or V), Tsah-As-Zih (Yucca, or Y)”.

The Navajo Marines also chose Navajo words to represent about 450 frequently used terms in the military. It was hard. According to code talker Wilfred Billey, “one of the most difficult parts of forming the Navajo code was using it to relay precise information, such as coordinates or troop movements because several words in the Navajo language have various meanings” (May 22, 2003, “Navajo Code Talker Continues Oral Tradition”, Marine Core Logistics Base Albany).

Some of the choices were very creative. Navajo is a classic language that didn’t originally include terms like “tank”, so the Navajo Marines dubbed it “Chay-Da-Gahi”, or tortoise. The Navajo Code Talkers Dictionary, published by the Navy years later after it was declassified, showed the versatility of the code’s creators. The code was so effective in World War 2, it was also used in the Korean War, being phased out before Vietnam.

In fact, at Iwo Jima, Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer, declared, ‘Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima’” (Navajo Code Talkers: WWII Fact Sheet). During that battle alone, the radiomen transmitted 800 messages without error.

Comanche, Sioux and Hopi Code Talkers for the Army

Although the Navajo tribe is the one most remembered for its contributions to the World War II communications code units, the US military also used Basque, Comanche, Sioux, Hopi and a number of other American Indian languages as code languages. Basque was rarely used because there were native Basque speakers in Europe which made the U.S. military wary of using it more widely.  However, because the various Army units of Code Talkers were so secret, their very existence was kept classified until the 1970s or later.

American-Indian-Code-Talkers-LanguagesImage: List of American Indian Code Talkers’ languages and the numbers of tribal members who served, if known. There were at least two Code Talkers from each tribe. Source: National Museum of the American Indian’s website.

Army-Signal-Corps_9780160453519The US Army’s Signal Corps is the military branch that develops, tests, provides, and manages communications and information systems support for the command and control of combined US Armed Forces, including code talkers. You can read the history of the Army Signal Corps in Getting the Message Through: A Branch History of the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

The US Army’s 4th Signal Company, also known as the Code Talkers, used seventeen Comanche Code Talkers. Like the Choctaws of World War I, and the Navajos in the Pacific Theater, the Comanche Code Talkers used their native language to prevent the enemies of the European Theater from intercepting messages of the allied troops during World War II. The unit was instrumental during the Normandy invasion.

Sioux code talkers, composed of Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota native soldiers or “L.D.N.’s”, spoke their native “dialects” (languages) which were understood by each native soldier in the unit. On December 19, 2000, Congressman John Thune said of the Sioux code talkers’ contribution:

“It is important for us to honor these veterans whose contributions have, until recently, been ignored. Often sent out on their own to provide communications with headquarters on enemy location and strength, they sometimes spent 24 hours in headphones without sleep or food. Many endured terrible conditions without protection from the enemy. Using three Sioux languages Lakota, Nakota and Dakota, the Sioux Code Talkers were able to communicate messages the enemy was unable to crack.”

The Hopi tribe also helped in the communications coding efforts. Eleven Hopi men developed a highly secret code language which they used to assist US Army intelligence in the Marshall Islands, New Caledonia and the Philippines during the Second World War. Again, because of the super top-secret nature of their work for Army Intelligence, the Hopi Code Talkers’ contribution was not officially recognized until April 26, 2012, on the inaugural Hopi Code Talkers Recognition Day.

Applying American Indian Traditions to the War against Obesity

The United States Government continues to utilize Native American language and traditions to solve important problems of the day. For example, with the public health issue of childhood obesity and diabetes rising to dangerous levels in the US, the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Native Diabetes Wellness Program (Wellness Program) and the Indian Health Service (IHS) Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention recently teamed up with the Tribal Leaders Diabetes Committee (TLDC) to produce the award-winning Eagle Book series.

The developers of this series realized that the old, traditional American Indian diet and activity levels were in line with today’s medical recommendations to eat less processed food and more fruits and vegetables as well as exercising more. Thus, they worked with Native groups to incorporate traditional American Indian story-telling techniques and themes to promote increased physical activity such as walking and playing as well as making healthier—and more natural—food choices to reduce obesity and prevent diabetes.

Coyote-and-the-Turtles'-Dream-9780160913174 Preventing childhood obesity and diabetesThe common Native American theme of the tortoise/ turtle used by the American Indian code talkers resurfaces in the newest book in the series, Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream.  In this middle school-age mystery/ adventure book, the wise elderly box turtle helps the mischievous Coyote and the Indian reservation town’s residents solve a mystery to foil the plans of a fossil poacher while teaching the underlying message about healthy eating and increased physical activity.

With the first four books aimed at elementary schoolers– Through the Eyes of the Eagle, Knees Lifted High, Plate Full of Color, and Tricky Treats and the next book for middle schoolers– Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream– the Eagle Book series has been snapped up by teachers, nutritionists, librarians, parents and children’s health providers all over the country as an effective tool to teach children about healthier eating habits and increasing activity while also instilling an appreciation for Native culture which extols respect for elders and living in harmony with nature.

You can read more about the Eagle Book series on our Government Book Talk blog post entitled: “Native Traditions Help Kids Unplug, Read and Be Healthy.”

How Can I Obtain These Publications?

EBOOKS:

PRINT EDITIONS:

About the author(s): Adapted by Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and GPO Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram, from an original blog post by Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP).


No-Vacation Nation? Take Time to Enjoy Our National Parks and Trails

August 13, 2013

Vacation-Time-Goes-Unused-in-USAmericans are generally extroverted, friendly, talkative—and apparently, workaholics. As the Europeans put it, Americans live to work, while they work to live.

Image source: From infographic on lack of vacation time in U.S. Produced by Column Five for Rasmussen College.

Studies by various travel companies and polling groups have shown that Americans are among the group of nationalities that take the least amount of vacation (others being the Japanese, Taiwanese, South Koreans, Singaporeans, and Mexicans). Part of the reason may be that the United States is the only developed nation in the world that does not guarantee any paid holidays for workers by law. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics concluded in a recent report that only seventy-two percent of wage earners in the United States received both holidays and paid vacations voluntarily granted by their employers. The rest of the employed population does not get paid vacation.

It’s unfortunate that Americans regularly skip using all their allotted vacation days*. [*See also: Schwartz, Tony (February 10, 2013). “Relax! You’ll Be More ProductiveThe New York Times.] Surveys of people in the U.S. report that they do not feel their bosses support taking leave, and they fear that being away from work looks like they are not committed to their jobs. Understandably, workers are afraid to look less than absolutely dedicated in this job market. Looking at our lack of vacation days and our failure to take advantage of them, one could conclude that we are not a well-rested people.

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Image: December 2012 infographic on why Americans don’t take more vacation time. Created by: Ally Bank from various public sources.

However, health researchers, sleep researchers, and psychologists have found that there is a direct correlation between rest and good health, and rest and productivity. Taking your vacation is almost a tonic against occupational stress.

Stop and Smell the Roses at a National Park or Trail

National Park System Map and Guide  ISBN: 9780912627878 available from http://bookstore.gpo.govIf you do get a paid vacation and have been putting off your annual jaunt, it’s time to sit down and plan one before summer ends. Many Federal Government agencies offer great resources for planning your next vacation or recreational activity.

For example, three excellent publications from the National Park Service– National Trails System: Map and Guide, National Park System Map and Guide, and the National Park System (Wall Map Poster) — can aid you in planning your trip to America’s best vacation destinations, our national parks and trails!

While most Americans are familiar with our fabulous national parks, fewer are aware of our 45 year-old National Trails System which is…

National Trails System Map and Guide“…the network of scenic, historic, and recreation trails created by the National Trails System Act of 1968. These trails provide for outdoor recreation needs, promote the enjoyment, appreciation, and preservation of open-air, outdoor areas and historic resources, and encourage public access and citizen involvement.” (National Park Service)

With the help of these National Park Service maps, you can hike interesting trails and learn history while you are appreciating the outdoors and getting a workout. Or you can pick a national park you’ve never visited before, and experience something new to spur your creativity. If you enjoy visiting cities, pick a park not far outside of town so that you could get a taste of nature in addition to some cultural experiences.

For example, the Washington, DC, area where the Government Printing Office is headquartered is a prime tourist and staycation destination with its many national parks and historic sites. Our Washington DC Area Tourism & Recreation collection includes maps, history and guidebooks about the area, including the new 2013 Washington DC tourism map by the National Park Service that includes all the newest monuments and museums. and the wonderful Capital Engineers: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Development of Washington, D.C. 1790-2004, (reviewed earlier on Government Book Talk blog) that tells “The Untold Story Behind the Engineering of Washington DC” and its many famous landmarks.

Once you pick a park, search the Web site recreation.gov to find the activities available there. If you look at the National Park system map and find yourself spoiled for choice, you may be able to narrow down your options when you discover the types of activities available at the parks. And if you are interested in vacationing in a city or a resort, but want to hit a nearby recreation center, you can search for alternatives just by entering a city or zip code. For example, if you plan to visit Las Vegas, but you’d like some time to enjoy rock climbing, too, you might rent a car for the day and drive to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, 12.57 miles from the city center. Most of the National Parks have guidebooks available to help you plan your trip: a number of them are available for sale from the U.S. Government Bookstore.

Of course, the money and time needed for a vacation are no joke. You may be one of the unlucky 28% that does not get a paid vacation. Or getting time off work may just be impossible. If any one of those factors applies to you, try a weekend getaway someplace nearby instead. The National Park Service has suggestions for quick breaks or “staycations” all the country. Once you’ve selected a site, you can fine-tune your plans with the information about reservations and camping available at recreation.gov.

Support for Your Pursuit of Happiness

As our nation has declared the pursuit of happiness a self-evident truth and an inalienable right, it seems we have a patriotic duty to pursue a holiday. The Federal government definitely supports your vacation. After all, each one of our modern presidents has set a prime example for the people by taking vacations to better handle the rigors of the job. As President Nixon put it: “Like other presidents, before and after me, I felt the need to get out of the White House and out of Washington in order to keep some sense of perception.”

Obamas-at-Grand-CanyonImage: U.S. President Barack Obama and family vacationing at the Grand Canyon National Park in August 2009. Source: White House. 

How can the public find these tourism and recreation maps and guidebooks?

How can Federal Depository librarians access these publications?

  • Find the records for these titles via the cataloging records in GPO’s Catalog of Government Publication or CGP.
  • Find them in a federal depository library.

About the author(s): Adapted from an original article on the FDLP Community Blog by Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). Editor and additional content by: Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and , GPO Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram.


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