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!


Happy 25th Birthday, World Wide Web!

March 12, 2014

World Wide Web 25TH Anniversary logo. Happy 25 birthday, WWW, March 12 1989 to 2014Twenty-five years ago on March 12, 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, wrote a paper proposing the system now known as the World Wide Web. (Left: 25 Years logo courtesy Marketing Magazine UK.) It was originally conceived and developed as an improved means for instantaneous information-sharing between scientists around the world.

From DOD’s ARPANet to an Internet

The Internet itself had actually started as a creation of the U.S. Government’s Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) together with U.S. universities. It was in response to the Cold War need for a backup communications method in case the traditional phone networks were knocked out. The resulting mainframe-to-mainframe computer network in 1969 was called ARPANet, the foundation for today’s Internet. (Read the History Channel’s history of the invention of the Internet here.) Soon, other organizations, mostly universities and military, created their own private networks. When the University College in London and the Royal Radar Establishment in Norway) connected to ARPANET in 1973, the term Internet was born.

In 1974, the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) was launched with the introduction of a commercial version of ARPANET, known as Telenet, thus expanding the availability of the Internet. After the introduction of a new protocol called TCP/IP by computer scientists Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn (called “The Fathers of the Internet”) in 1974, diverse computer networks could easily interconnect with each other, transforming the “Internet” into a truly global network by the end of the 1970s.

However, by 1990, frustrated CERN scientists were using the text-only Internet with its bulletin boards and limited mainframe messaging, but it was not user-friendly for either the end users or the publishers of content.

From a text-only Internet to a graphical World Wide Web

After Berners-Lee’s proposal received the go-ahead from his boss at CERN, he went on to write software in his spare time, creating the first World Wide Web server (“httpd”) and the first web client “WorldWideWeb.”

This “World Wide Web browser” was a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) hypertext browser/editor that would install on their client (end user) computers, providing them with the first graphical interface for accessing Internet content (think of clicking on hyperlinks, viewing  photos and other graphical images, seeing text in different fonts, colors and sizes).

The World Wide Web was launched publicly on August 6, 1991, forever after providing the world a way to “browse the World Wide Web.”

Sir Tim Berners-Lee First World Wide Web Server 1990

Image: This NeXT workstation (a NeXTcube) was used by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1990-1 as the first Web server on the World Wide Web. Source: Wikipedia

In a guest blog post today on Google’s official blog, Sir Tim Berners-Lee explains the results of his World Wide Web idea:

In 1993, after much urging, CERN declared that WWW technology would be available to all, without paying royalties, forever.

This decision enabled tens of thousands to start working together to build the web. Now, about 40 percent of us are connected and creating online. The web has generated trillions of dollars of economic value, transformed education and healthcare and activated many new movements for democracy around the world. And we’re just getting started.

So, thank you, Sir Tim! The rest, as they say, is history.

Below is a timeline of Internet history from 1990 to 2007:

Internet timeline including World Wide Web and social media. Courtesy: Harbott.com

Internet timeline including World Wide Web and social media. Courtesy: Harbott.com

GPO’s History on the World Wide Web

GPO is joining in the celebration by commemorating our own moments in World Wide Web history:

1993:    The Government Printing Office Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act of 1993 was enacted (Public Law 103-40).

1994:    GPO Access launched (available by subscription; free to Federal depository libraries)

1995:    GPO Access became free to all users.

1995:    GPO began selling Government publications online with its “Sales Product Catalog” (now the site known as the U.S. Government Bookstore)

1996:    GPO’s Federal Depository Library Program Web site, “FDLP Administration,” launched (later named the FDLP Desktop and now FDLP.gov)

2000:    GPO’s kids’ site, Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government, launched.

Image: Home page of Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids as of March 12, 2014.

Image: Home page of Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids as of March 12, 2014.

2006:    The Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, launched.

2009:    GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) launched.

2010:    GPO entered the world of social media, first with the launch of its YouTube Channel.

2013:      GPO relaunches its newly redesigned U.S. Government Bookstore ecommerce site at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/.

BEFORE (U.S. Government Online Bookstore 2000):

US_ Government_Online Bookstore_Wayback-Machine_20000708

Image: Snapshot of the home page of the U.S. Government Online Bookstore http://bookstore.gpo.gov/ as of July 8, 2000. Source: Internet Archive Wayback Machine http://archive.org/web/

AFTER (U.S. Government Online Bookstore today in 2014):

Image: Today's U.S. Government Online Bookstore home page as of March 12, 2014.

Image: Today’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore home page http://bookstore.gpo.gov/ as of March 12, 2014.

To see how your favorite websites looked in years past, visit the Internet Archive Wayback Machine at http://archive.org/web/ which archives snapshots of web pages since the World Wide Web launched.

Federal Publications for the Digital Age

The U.S. Government Online Bookstore carries a number of Federal publications that highlight the triumphs and the challenges of the digital age.

A History of Army Communications and Electronics at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, 1917-2007 (Hardcover) or Ebook  ISBN: 9780160813597 or 9780160869105One interesting read is, “A History of Army Communications and Electronics at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, 1917-2007 (Hardcover) and eBook.” This book details ninety years of communications-electronics achievements carried out by the scientists, engineers, logisticians and support staff at Fort Monmouth, NJ. It’s a fascinating read, as it details communications ranging from homing pigeons to frequency hopping tactical radios!

YouTube War: Fighting in a World of Cameras in Every Cell Phone and Photoshop on Every Computer by US Army War College & Strategic Studies InstituteAlso check out “YouTube War: Fighting in a World of Cameras in Every Cell Phone and Photoshop on Every Computer,” from the U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute. This publication discusses the digital environment in which we live that enables terrorists to film and instantly share their attacks within minutes of staging them. It also describes possible courses of action for the Army and the U.S. military as they seek to respond to an enemy in this type of environment.

Computers Take Flight: A History of NASA's Pioneering Digital Fly-by-wire Project ISBN: 9780160914423You might also be interested in, “Computers Take Flight: A History Of NASA’s Pioneering Digital Fly-by-wire Project.” This book details the flight research project which validated the principal concepts of all-electric flight control systems now used on nearly all modern high-performance aircraft and on military and civilian transports.

These, and a wide array of other interesting publications on related topics, can be found by browsing the U.S. Government Bookstore under the “Computers and Electronics” category. In addition, the World Wide Web has made obtaining eBooks possible, so our wide selection of free and/or inexpensive eBooks for consumers, industry, academia, military, law enforcement, legal community and more would be worth viewing as well.

How can I get these technology-related Federal publications?

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy this eBook or any other eBook, 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 our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. (Librarians: You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.)

About the authors: Guest blogger Kelly Seifert, Lead Planning Specialist for GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division, writes about the World Wide Web’s 25th birthday and the array of Government publications available on the topics of computers and electronics.

Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram. Bartram is Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore and promoting Federal government content to the public. A computer scientist and digital expert, Bartram remembers those early pre-WWW days using mainframe-based Internet and email and then using a web browser to “surf” the World Wide Web for the first time.


The History of eBooks from 1930′s “Readies” to Today’s GPO eBook Services

March 10, 2014

To some it might seem strange that the Government Printing Office, the printer of Federal publications for over 150 years, is blogging about eBooks for “Read an eBook” Week and the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web . However, GPO has been working with digital publications for years and is fully immersed in eBooks.

History of the Ebook and E-Reader Devices

While many know that the paperback book came to us in the 1930s, few know that the concept for electronic books arose at the same time. According to Wikipedia, the idea of the e-reader came to writer and impresario Bob Brown after watching his first “talkie” (movies with sound). In 1930, he wrote an entire book on this invention and titled it “The Readies” [/reed-eeze/] playing off the name of the “talkie.” (Read about Brown in this New York Times article.)

simultaneous_reading_machine

Image: Fantasy exhibit of an electronic simultaneous reading machine. Source: The Architecture of Possibility

Wrote Brown: “The written word hasn’t kept up with the age… The movies have outmaneuvered it. We have the talkies, but as yet no Readies.” He explained why it was needed, saying: “To continue reading at today’s speed, I must have a machine.” He described his ideal future e-reader as: “A simple reading machine which I can carry or move around, attach to any old electric light plug and read hundred-thousand-word novels in 10 minutes if I want to, and I want to.” Furthermore, this machine would “allow readers to adjust the type size and avoid paper cuts.

Free-eBooks-from-Project-GutenbergIt would take over 40 years for Brown’s prescient vision to become reality. Starting back in 1971, Michael S. Hart launched Project Gutenberg and digitized the U.S. Declaration of Independence, becoming the first eBook in the world. (To put the date into context, 1971 was the year that the first email message was ever sent– between two mainframe computers!) In 1985, the Voyager Company, a pioneer in CD-ROMs, was founded and published “expanded books” on CD-ROM including Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, and in 1993, Digital Book, Inc. offered the first 50 digital books on floppy disk.

Fast forward to 1998, and four important events happened: 1) the first dedicated eBook readers were launched: Rocket Ebook and Softbook; 2) the first ISBN issued to an eBook was obtained; 3) US Libraries began providing free eBooks to the public through their web sites and associated services; and 4) Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

In 2000, the same year Blu-Ray discs were launched, Stephen King offered his novella Riding the Bullet as a digital-only computer-readable file, and two years later, Random House and HarperCollins started to sell digital versions of their publications. In 2004 Sony released its Sony Librie e-reader and then its Sony Reader in 2006.

2007 changed the world of reading forever with Amazon’s launch of the Kindle eBook reader in the U.S. and the launch of the iPhone by Apple. In 2009, Barnes & Noble introduced the Nook, and Sony linked with libraries via the Overdrive digital network to enable library patrons to borrow eBooks from their local library.

ereaders-ebook-devices

Image: Wide variety of eReaders and eBook reading devices. Courtesy: eBookAnoid

2010 was a banner year for eBooks as: 1) Apple released the iPad along with iBooks and its iBookstore on iTunes, selling half a million eBooks in less than a month; 2) Google’s eBookstore launched; and 3) Amazon reported that for the first time, its eBook sales outnumbered its hardcover book sales.

By January 2011, eBook sales at Amazon had outpaced its paperback sales, and by the end of the first quarter of 2012, eBook sales in the United States surpassed all hardcover book sales for the first time, topping over $3 Billion in revenue nationwide. And as of the end of 2013, the Association of American Publishers announced that eBooks now accounted for about 20% of all U.S. book sales.

Types and Formats of Digital Publications

Today, one sees many kinds of digital publications. “Electronic” or digital books can come as printable PDFs, enhanced PDFs with hyperlinks and embedded files, or “true eBook” formats: EPUB or MOBI files. EPUB is the most common and non-proprietary format, used by most Government agencies, commercial publishers, and libraries, and can be used on a variety of devices and software from different vendors. MOBI or AZW is used by Amazon for its Kindle readers and software.

EPUB and MOBI are “true eBook” formats because they offer resizable and reflowable text, automatically adjusting to the font and screen size and orientation (portrait or landscape) set on the e-reading device or software being used. (For more information, read our blog post “Government eBooks Made Easy– and Sometimes Free.”)

Readers either download digital publications onto their dedicated eReader like a Kindle or Nook, or they download it to their desktop or laptop computer, smart phone or tablet computer to read. If it is not a dedicated eReader device, the user must first have software on his device to allow him to read the format of eBooks he has downloaded.  To learn more about eBook formats and find FREE software to read EPUB eBooks on your computer or mobile device, read our detailed eBook Readers & Formats page on the U.S. Government Bookstore.

Image: Infographic of different eBook readers and apps options Source: Digital Book World

Image: Aptara’s infographic of different eBook readers and apps options Source: Digital Book World

Magazines are also available digitally, but their typically image-heavy content makes them more suited for reading on color tablets and desktop computers than smartphones or black-and-white eReaders with smaller screen sizes or no color. Zinio.com, touted as “The World’s Largest Newsstand”, is one of the sites where readers can search for and subscribe to digital magazines or buy individual issues.

GPO Digital Publication Services: “Helping Federal Agencies keep America informed”

In addition to helping Federal agencies design, print, promote and distribute physical publications, GPO has, for a number of years now, been helping our Federal agency partners design, convert, disseminate, and promote digital publications as well. From eBooks to audiobooks, PDFs to e-periodicals, MP3s to mobile sites, GPO is working with Federal agencies to not only assist them in producing the best digital publications in the right formats, but to also augment their own outreach efforts by helping spread the word to gain the largest audience possible for their publications.

Today we offer five areas of digital (and print) publication services to U.S. Federal Government agencies in the Executive, Legislative or Judicial branches:

  1. Image: Choosing the right format and content for your publication is made easier with GPO's publication consulting services.

    Image: Choosing the right format and content for your publication is made easier with GPO’s publication consulting services.

    Publication Consultation services: Do you need advice on what formats are best for your content? Need to know how to best structure and build your digital publication to ensure its broadest use and dissemination? We offer free consulting services to Federal agencies to help you get these projects on the right track.

  2. Design services: Does your agency need assistance in developing and producing digital or print publications, from photography, videography, copy, layouts and more? Our fee-based Creative Services can be hired to do this for you, with only an inter-agency memo required to get started.

    GPO-Creative-Digital-Media-Services

    GPO’s Creative & Digital Media Services helps Federal Agencies design the perfect publication in any format, print or digital.

  3. eBook Conversion services: Are you a Federal agency that already has a print book or magazine you want to turn into a digital publication? Or do have one digital format like a plain PDF that you need to convert to another format so more customers can use it? We offer fee-based conversion services to turn that publication into digital formats ready for commercial distribution.

    GPO offers ebook conversion services to Federal agencies

    Image: GPO can help Federal Agencies convert their existing publications into alternative formats. See our eBooks & Digital Services page for more information.

  4. Dissemination services: After all this work creating the perfect digital books and magazines, you need to make sure it reaches the widest intended audience possible. GPO’s Sales Program provides a network of the top print and eBook distribution services and sites in the world, including Google Play, Apple iTunes, Barnes & Noble, MyiLibrary, Overdrive, and Zinio (for e-magazines and journals), to name a few.Whether an agency has print books or posters, maps or  MP3s, eBooks or audio books, GPO can help agencies disseminate their publications through the top channels worldwide. Learn more in the eBook Channels for Federal Publications section below or visit our eBooks & Digital Services page. (Note that libraries can find links to published U.S. Government eBooks in GPO’s Federal Depository Library Program’s special eBooks at GPO page.)

    Image: GPO's Publication & Information Sales team helps Federal Agencies attain the broadest dissemination possible through our many worldwide eBook distribution partnerships.

    Image: GPO’s Publication & Information Sales team helps Federal Agencies attain the broadest dissemination possible through our many worldwide eBook distribution partnerships.

  5. Promotional services: Once your digital publication shows up on all these channels, how do you drive customers to find it?  For items in GPO’s Sales Program, we market our Federal agency partners’ digital publications through a variety of methods that could include: posts on this widely-read Government Book Talk blog; posts on other social media such as Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and more; targeted outreach and press releases; flyers, catalogs and other direct mail; live events and webinars; search marketing; alerts to Federal Depository Libraries about the title; and our free New Titles by Topic email subscription service, to name just a few of our many promotional tools.

    Image: GPO's Publication & Information Sales team helps get the word about our Federal Agency Partners' publications through integrated marketing and outreach.

    Image: GPO’s Publication & Information Sales team helps get the word about our Federal Agency Partners’ publications through integrated marketing and outreach to the public, book dealers, industry and consumer organizations and more.

GPO Sales Program Manages eBook Channels for Federal Government

Thus, GPO has established the most robust dissemination program available for Federal agencies to “get their eBooks out where users are looking for them,” by signing partnerships with the top eBook and eMagazine distribution services in the world and expanding our own online bookstore to offer eBooks.

In order to take advantage of the sophisticated technology and distribution partnerships GPO has put in place for the Federal Government, Federal agencies can choose one of two models for GPO to disseminate their digital publications:

a)     PAID CONTENT: Under this model, instead of having the Federal agency pay GPO for dissemination and promotion, the costs for GPO’s dissemination and promotional services (including elaborate metadata and search optimization) are recovered by selling the eBook to the public at a reasonable price.

b)     FREE CONTENT: However, if the Federal agency determines that the digital publication needs to be free to the public through all the commercial channels, the agency may pay GPO a modest fee for dissemination and promotional services, and the eBook will be offered for free to the public.

Image: Extract from GPO's U.S. Government Bookstore home page at http://bookstore.gpo.gov, which has print and digital publications available.

Image: Extract from GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore home page at http://bookstore.gpo.gov, which has both physical products (print books, CD-ROMs and DVDs, posters, flashcards, etc.) and DRM-free digital publications (eBooks, audio books, PDFs, etc.) available.

eBook Channels for Federal Publications

All ebooks available on GPO's U.S. Government Bookstore are DRM-free

All ebooks available on GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore are DRM-free, with no restrictive Digital Rights Management.

Because we have optimized the navigation and search on our site specifically to make it easy to find Federal eBooks by Agency, Topic and/or Format, many titles are seeing more downloads here than out on commercial sites like Google or iTunes or even on agencies’ own websites.

Also contributing to the surging popularity with the public of obtaining eBooks from the U.S. Government Bookstore is the fact that unlike eBooks purchased from some of the proprietary eBook distributors, digital publications on the U.S. Government Online Bookstore are DRM-free (no Digital Rights Management), meaning they are not restricted to a single device or manufacturer and can be downloaded multiple times.

  • Commercial eBook Channels: Apple iTunes iBookstore, Google Play eBookstore, Barnes & Noble Nook Book Store, Powell’s, eBookPie, Diesel eBookStore, (United States), and more.
  • U.S. Public Libraries: Overdrive’s Library Digital Distribution provides eBooks to public library patrons nationwide.
  • Academic eBook Channels: EBSCO, MYiLibrary, AcademicPub and others.
  • Digital Magazine Channels: Zinio.com worldwide distribution of digital magazines and journals.

Featured eBooks Available Now on the U.S. Government Bookstore

Shop GPO's extensive selection of all DRM-free Federal ebooks.

FREE EBOOKS: Some of the best FREE ebooks available now from the U.S. Government Bookstore include:

OTHER POPULAR TITLES:  Here are some of the newer and more popular DRM-free Federal eBooks available from the U.S. Government Bookstore:

  • Free Trade Agreements: 20 Ways to Grow Your Business (ePub eBook) The book provides detailed information on best prospects, insights on the economic and political situation, tips on business culture, free and low-cost assistance for entering each country market where the U.S. government has negotiated preferential access for U.S. companies.
  • The U.S. Army and the Lewis and Clark Expedition (ePub eBook) is an engaging account of the U.S. Army’s role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition, officially designated the “Corps of Volunteers for North Western Discovery.”
  • Sources of Weapon Systems Innovation in the Department of Defense: The Role of In-House Research and Development, 1945-2000 (ePub eBook) explores the historical evolution of this process during the Cold War to the end of the twentieth century, focusing specifically on the content, scope, organizational structure, and management of in-house research and development (R&D) in the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. It is not merely a comprehensive history of U.S. military R&D, but is rather a broad historical overview of changing institutional patterns of technological innovation within the Defense Department’s major weapons laboratories.
  • Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, Report to the President, January 2011 (ePub eBook) is the official report of Presidential Commission assigned to investigate the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, analyze its causes and effects, and recommend the actions necessary to minimize such risks in the future. The Commission’s report offers the American public and policymakers alike the fullest account available of what happened in the Gulf and why, and proposes actions—changes in company behavior, reform of government oversight, and investments in research and technology—required as industry moves forward to meet the nation’s energy needs.
  • Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007 (ePub eBook) is a comprehensive history of the more than 120 African Americans who have served in the United States Congress through 2007. Written for a general audience, this eBook contains a profile of each African-American Member, including notables such as Hiram Revels, Joseph Rainey, Oscar De Priest, Adam Clayton Powell, Shirley Chisholm, Gus Hawkins, and Barbara Jordan.
  • HAP: Henry H. Arnold, Military Aviator (ePub eBook) Aviation and military history buffs will enjoy reading about Colonel Henry Harley Arnold or “HAP” Arnold, one of the first two active U.S. Army pilots. Also available in Print, this eBook is available currently through third party eBooksellers.

How can I get Federal Government eBooks and digital magazines?

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks as well as print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:
  • Shop Commercial eBook Channels:  Search these sites for the ISBN or exact title of the Federal eBook. Also, GPO’s Online Bookstore lists third party eBooksellers where the title can be found for eBooks in our eBook Sales program.
  • Visit the Federal Agency’s website: Often, PDFs of the publication are posted on Federal Agencies’ websites.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. Librarians: You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), or search for published U.S. Government eBooks in GPO’s Federal Depository Library Program’s special eBooks at GPO page.
  • Visit a Public Library: Ask your local public librarian about Federal eBooks that may be available for library patrons to check out through the library’s Overdrive subscription.

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.


Getting to Know the Presidents from the Intelligence Community’s Perspective

February 10, 2014

Presidents Day originated as a holiday to celebrate George Washington’s birthday on February 22nd. As a result of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968, the holiday was changed to the third Monday in February. While the holiday commemorates  George Washington, it also honors Abraham Lincoln whose birthday is ten days before Washington’s on February 12th. Consequently, Presidents Day always falls between the two birthdays. Let’s also give a shout out to two other Presidents whose birthdays fall in February – Ronald Reagan’s birthday on February 6th and William Henry Harrison on February 9th.

In recent years, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been declassifying documents and releasing historical collections giving the public access to fascinating and relatively unknown U.S. history. These collections have been made available through GPO’s bookstore and have been the topic of previous blog posts.

In honor of Presidents Day, Government Book Talk is taking a look at two recent books published by the CIA focusing on the relationship between Presidents and the intelligence community.

Crafting the U.S. Intelligence Community

Crafting an Intelligence Community-Papers of the First-4-DCIs ISBN 9780160920523The CIA’s predecessor, the Central Intelligence Group, was created after World War II in response to the success and usefulness of intelligence gathering during the war. The booklet and accompanying DVD Crafting an Intelligence Community: Papers of the First Four DCIs looks at the first Directors of Central Intelligence (DCI) and their relationships with President Truman and Congress during the initial years of the newly created intelligence agency during the transition from wartime to peacetime. History buffs and President Truman enthusiasts will particularly enjoy pouring through the 800 recently declassified documents from the DCIs from 1946-1953 that are found on the DVD.

The CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence and CIA Historical Collections Division describe this multimedia publication:

Admiral Sidney W. Souers, General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter and General William Bedell Smith accepted President Harry S. Truman’s challenge to craft an intelligence organization.  Each man marked his tenure with his unique brand of leadership that provided his successor with the foundation needed for the next step toward the Central Intelligence Agency of today.

 The Crafting of an Intelligence Community collection of 800+ Agency documents along with 600 supplemental items shows the day-by-day activities, decisions, staff meetings and contacts that confronted each DCI.  They ran the gamut of choosing a secretary to responding to a Presidential question to an evening social event with various ambassadors and dignitaries.

Briefing the Presidential Candidates and Presidents-Elect

CIA Getting To Know the President: Intelligence Briefings of Presidential Candidates, 1952-2004 ISBN 9781929667192Getting To Know the President: Intelligence Briefings of Presidential Candidates, 1952-2004 (Book and DVD) or in Audio Book version was recently featured in the Washington Post for being the federal government’s first downloadable audio book available on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys). The book is an historical account of the information sharing process between the intelligence community and Presidential candidates and Presidents-elect during campaigns and administration transitions.  The early chapters when this practice was not yet well-established provide the greatest insight to the briefing process.

It starts with the transition periods from the Dwight D. Eisenhower to Harry Truman administration through the candidate and Presidential briefings of Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, ending with President George W. Bush.

An interesting anecdote from the book occurs during the period leading up to the 1960 election when then-Vice President Richard Nixon was running against then-Senator John F. Kennedy. At the time, there were concerns regarding the intelligence briefings on Cuba and the U.S.’s policy towards the Castro government. The recent revolution in Cuba that led to a Soviet-supported communist government was a hot topic during the election and the Presidential debates. Since Nixon was running for President while serving as Vice President, he was privy to information on the covert actions that had been underway in Cuba during the Eisenhower administration. Vice President Nixon raised concerns over what information was shared with Kennedy by the DCI Allen Dulles and how it could affect Kennedy’s positions during the election and the success of the covert actions. This was the first time the CIA was part of a political campaign raising questions on which topics and to what extent Presidential candidates should be briefed.

Here is an excerpt from the book detailing this fascinating controversy:

Well before the Cuba liberation issue came to a head in October, the outgoing Eisenhower administration had realized that covert action planning on Cuba could be a political bombshell. Following one of Allen Dulles’s briefings of the National Security Council in early August, for example, the vice president pulled the DCI aside to ask him whether Kennedy and his running mate, Senator Lyndon Johnson, were being provided information on covert action projects, specifically those related to Cuba. Dulles gave a carefully crafted answer to the effect that Kennedy was being told a little but not too much. According to former Agency officials familiar with the exchange, Nixon reacted strongly to Dulles’s reply, saying, “Don’t tell [Kennedy] anything. That could be dangerous.”

In his own account of these events, published in 1962, Nixon charged that Kennedy, before the election of 1960, had knowledge of covert action planning “for the eventual purpose of supporting an invasion of Cuba itself.” This charge prompted a formal press release from the White House on 20 March 1962 denying that Kennedy had been told of any plans for “supporting an invasion of Cuba” before the election. The White House denial was backed up by Dulles, by then a former DCI, who explained that Nixon’s comments were apparently based on a misunderstanding of what was included in the briefings he had given Kennedy.

Senator-Kennedy-DCI-DullesImage from “Getting to Know the Presidents”: Senator Kennedy with former DCI Allen Dulles heading to a press briefing on the information the CIA provided Kennedy and Johnson. Source: White House

Celebrate Presidents Day and get to know the Presidents from the intelligence community’s perspective with these new CIA publications or any of the publications found in the GPO Bookstore’s Presidential History collection, which also includes the popular Public Papers of the Presidents collection.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE PUBLICATIONS?

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

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


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.


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

December 23, 2013

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

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

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

Background of NORAD’s Santa Tracker

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

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

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

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

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

NORAD’s Santa Tracking Innovations

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

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

Santa Drops in for a Sneak Peek

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

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

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

Santa Tracker Test Flight Reveals NORAD Technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fighter Jet Controversy?

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

NORAD tells kids of the fighter jets:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Santa Tracker Technology for Citizens on the Ground

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

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

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

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

Play Reindeer Games instead of War Games

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

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


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

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.  She has been a faithful NORAD Tracks Santa fan for years!


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!


Quiz and History for Bill of Rights Day December 15

December 13, 2013

Bill-of-Rights-Founding-Father-President-James-Madison-statue-AP-PhotoImage: James Madison statue in front of Bill of Rights. AP Photo.

We celebrate Bill of Rights Day on December 15 every year in the midst of the bustling holiday season. Although it’s not a Federal holiday, it’s definitely a day for American citizens to commemorate the freedoms we enjoy by law. And no, the right to shop—while popular in America— is not listed in the Bill of Rights!

History of the Bill of Rights

The Founding Fathers drafted the United States Constitution during the First Constitutional Convention, held from May through September 1787 in Philadelphia. The completed draft constitution, sent to the States for ratification in September 1787, did not include any mention of individual rights. The framers’ focus was largely on structuring a strong government, and getting that structure put into place. Without such a structure, the Founding Fathers feared the country’s collapse into chaos or new attacks from outsiders. They left the issue of individual rights without adding it to the Constitution during that meeting.

As a result of this omission, Edmund Randolph, George Mason, and Elbridge Gerry refused to sign the Constitution on principle. Maryland delegates Luther Martin and John Francis Mercer reportedly walked out of the Convention, at least in part because the draft did not include a Bill of Rights. In September, Randolph, Mason and Gerry joined in asking for a second constitutional convention to address the issue of personal rights. All three men advocated strongly for a bill of rights throughout most of the constitutional convention. The people ultimately adopted the Constitution, sans any bill of rights, on September 17, 1787. Eleven states ratified it and it went into effect in 1789.

Founding Father James Madison was a delegate from Virginia who had been a key actor and speaker at the First Constitutional Convention. He had held onto the idea of the individual freedoms as discussed at that Convention. Although Federalist Madison was originally a skeptic about needing a Bill of Rights, like Randolph, Mason and Gerry he came to believe that the inclusion of personal rights was imperative to be added to the United States Constitution.

quote-enlightened-statesmen-will-not-always-be-at-the-helm-President-James-MadisonImage courtesy IZQuotes.

In Madison’s view, the value of a listing of rights was:

  • in part educational for the populace under this new form of Government,
  • in part as a vehicle that might be used to rally people against a future oppressive Government when “less enlightened statesmen” may be in power,
  • and finally–in an argument borrowed from Thomas Jefferson–Madison argued that a declaration of rights would help install the judiciary as “guardians” of individual rights against the Legislative and Executive branches of the Federal Government.

Thus, while serving in the first U.S. House of Representatives, Madison framed and introduced the Bill of Rights as legislative articles to amend the Constitution on June 8, 1789.

He used as a model George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights, written in May 1776, and also based his legislative articles in part on the English Bill of Rights (1689), the Magna Carta and other documents.

Painting-Adoption-of-VA-Declaration-of-RightsImage: This painting, The Adoption of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, depicting the adoption of the Virginia Declaration of Rights by the fifth Virginia Revolutionary Convention was made by Jack Clifton in 1974. It now hangs in the Virginia State Capitol. Courtesy: Virginia Memory online exhibit of the Library of Virginia.

What rights are in Bill of Rights?

Painting-of-James-Madison-reading-Bill-of-Rights-to-First-CongressMadison included in his articles a list of rights of the individual, such as free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, free assembly, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and others, as well as some limits on government powers.

Image on the right: Madison reading his Bill of Rights to Congress. Courtesy: University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

On August 21, 1789, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted Madison’s articles, proposed them in a joint resolution of Congress on September 25, 1789, and finally ratified them on December 15, 1791.

The Bill of Rights consists of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and is a key “fundamental document” of the United States Federal government.

Cartoon of the Bill of Rights depicting the first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution. From a 1971 Teacher's Guide transparency for "Young Citizen"

Image: Bill of Rights depicted in cartoon format from 1971 Young Citizen teacher’s guide transparency. Courtesy: Syracuse University. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE and for teacher printable version.

  • First Amendment:  Freedom of Religion, Speech, and Press, the Right to Assemble Peaceably and to Petition the Government “for a redress of grievances.
  • Second Amendment: Right to Keep and Bear Arms- “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
  • Third Amendment: Quartering of Troops- “No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
  • Fourth Amendment: Search and Seizure- “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
  • Fifth Amendment: Grand Jury, Double Jeopardy, Self-Incrimination, Due Process
  • Sixth Amendment: Criminal Prosecutions – Right to  a speedy public trial by an impartial jury, to confront witnesses and to counsel for defense.
  • Seventh Amendment: Common Law Suits –Right to a Trial by Jury
  • Eighth Amendment: No Excessive Bail or Fines or Cruel and Unusual Punishment- “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
  • Ninth Amendment: Non-Enumerated Rights or “Rule of Construction of the Constitution”-  “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
  • Tenth Amendment: States’ Rights- Rights not explicitly delegated to the Federal Government in the Constitution are reserved to the States or to the People.

Where can you learn more about the Bill of Rights?

US-Constitution-and-Declaration-of-Independence-Pocket-Guide_I9780160891847 Buy at the US Government Online Bookstore http://bookstore.gpo.gpvIf you want to learn more about the Bill of Rights, an excellent place to start would be reading the source document, the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence; the GPO U.S. Government Bookstore sells a handy Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence Pocket Edition. The full text of the ten amendments of the Bill of Rights is there for you to read and study.

US Citizenship and Immigration Service Civics Flash Cards for the US Naturalization Test ISBN-9780160904608 Available from GPO's US Government Bookstore a http://bookstore.gpo.govImage courtesy Citizenship Guru.

Kids in school, or adults wanting to revisit the fundamentals they learned in civics classes, can learn a lot from the Civics Flash Cards for the U.S. Naturalization Test (English Version)—and obviously the target audience, U.S. residents who want to become American citizens, will benefit from studying these, too.

Spanish-Civics-Flash-Cards-for-US-naturalization-test Tarjetas de Educación Cívica ISBN 9780160902048 Available from the US Government Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.govIf you’re more comfortable reading en español, you can study using the same flash cards in Spanish: Tarjetas de Educación Cívica para el Exámen de Naturalización to cover the same material.

You can also listen to the same questions in English on the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) website. (I didn’t see them offered in Spanish on their site, though.) If you’re cramming for the naturalization or a civics exam, listening to the questions is excellent reinforcement for your study plan.

Mini-Quiz from the Citizenship Test

Civics-Flash-Cards-Question-38If you’ve already read this post, or studied the Constitution, you will probably ace questions #1 and #2 of the United States naturalization test for citizenship:

  1. “What is the supreme law of the land?”
  2. “What does the Constitution do?”
  3. “What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?” (Bonus points if you get the answer to this question #5 correct!)

(Answers: 1- The Constitution. 2- Sets up the government; Defines the government; Protects basic rights of Americans. 3- The Bill of Rights, of course! )

For even more challenging questions based on the U.S. Citizenship test, take our fun Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grade Civics student?

In-depth civics questions can be answered by the capsule summary answers to the questions in Learn About the United States: Quick Civics Lesson for the Naturalization Test 2013 (Book Plus CD). Students need to know the principles and background behind the answers, not just the answers themselves, obviously.

Question six asks, “What is ONE right or freedom from the First Amendment?” The text lists the possible answers, and then relates the reasons for the guarantee of those freedoms. The authors explain freedom of expression as follows:

“The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights protects a person’s right to freedom of expression. Freedom of expression allows open discussion and debate on public issues. Open discussion and debate are important to democracy.”

You’ll definitely have a thorough grounding in the basics of American Federal government by the time you’re done with the lesson.

The Right to Exercise… Your Rights, That Is

Exercise your right to open discussion by reading some of these documents, and talking to friends about them. If you are a school student, maybe you’ll have an opportunity to write about the Bill of Rights or the freedoms the Bill of Rights guarantee.

1963-2013-Civil-Rights-logoIn this year, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of three significant events from the Civil Rights movement— the March on Washington for Rights and Freedom, the murder of African-American civil rights activist Medgar Evers who was involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi, and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama— it’s a good time to reflect on our civil rights and liberties, and how lucky we are to have them.

Image: Civil Rights Movement 50th Anniversary logo. Courtesy: City of Birmingham, Alabama

How can you obtain official publications that explain the Bill of Rights and other documents of American rights?

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.


Relive the first year of the Obama Presidency

September 24, 2013

Portrait of the 44th President of the United States Barack Obama As we experience the first year of President Obama’s second term as the 44th President of the United States, take a look back on what was going on at this time during the first year of his first term as president with the Public Papers of the Presidents, Barack Obama 2009, Book 2. This volume covers the public messages and statements made by President Obama during the second half of his first year in office from July to December 2009.

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Barack Obama, 2009, Book 2, July 1 to December 31, 2009.  ISBN: 9780160860867 and GPO Stock #069-000-00185-8Some highlights of those six months include the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor as President Obama’s first nomination to the Supreme Court, the shaping of the health care law (Read our blog post: “Everything You Should Know About The Health Care Law“), and the continuing efforts to create jobs and rebuild the U.S. economy. The book also includes a section of official color photographs from events during the time period.

This book is part of the Public Papers of the Presidents series which consists of public writings, addresses and remarks made by the President and is the second volume of the Barack Obama Public Papers collection, which includes an eBook version of Book 1. (Read about the first volume in our blog post: “The First Collection of President Obama’s Public Papers.”)

As in other Public Papers volumes, the appendices provide listings of:

  • A digest of President Obama’s daily schedule and meetings, when announced, and other items of general interest issued by the White House Office of the Press Secretary;
  • President Obama’s nominations submitted to the Senate;
  • A checklist of materials released by the Office of the Press Secretary that are not printed full-text in the book; and
  • A table of Proclamations, Executive Orders, and other Presidential documents released by the Office of the Press Secretary and published in the Federal Register.

Public Papers of the Presidents series

The entire Public Papers of the Presidents series is published by the National Archives’ Office of the Federal Register (OFR) and includes two volumes per year, each volume covering a six-month period of the presidency, with the OFR checking remarks against a recording and signed documents against the original to ensure accuracy. The series started with President Hoover and continues to President Obama, with the exception of President Roosevelt who chose to have his papers published privately.

To learn more about the process of compiling the Public Papers of the Presidents, watch this video below on the production of President Obama’s first volume at the Government Printing Office (GPO):

Video Government Printing Office The Making-of-Barack-Obama-Public-Papers-of-the-President

Image: Excerpted from the video of the Making of the Public Papers of the President. Depicts President Obama in the Oval Office being presented with the first volume in his Public Papers printed by the Government Printing Office in April 2011. Pictured from left to right are: current Public Printer of the United States, Davita Vance-Cooks; previous Public Printer, William J. Boarman; President Barack Obama; Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero, and Director of the Federal Register, Ray Mosley.

The Public Papers of the Presidents series is also available on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys). The public can digitally access the digitized volumes starting in 1991 with President George H. W. Bush through President Barack Obama, 2009 from this page on FDsys.

GPO also makes the Public Papers of the Presidents series available in print through the agency’s online bookstore with volumes back to Herbert Hoover. The public can browse through the various volumes from different presidents on the Public Papers of the Presidents collection page in the Presidential History collection under the US & Military History category.

How do I obtain a copy of the Public Papers of the Presidents, Barack Obama 2009, Book 2?

1) Buy a printed copy

  • Shop Online: You can purchase a printed copy of Public Papers of the Presidents, Barack Obama 2009, Book 2 or any of the previous volume(s) of the Obama presidency by shopping the Barack Obama Public Papers collection on the U.S. Government Online Bookstore.
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Visit our Retail Store: Buy a printed copy 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.
  • Find it in a Library:  GPO provides catalog records to Federal Depository libraries worldwide. Find this publication in a federal depository library.

2) View or download a PDF from GPO’s official Federal documents database, FDsys:

About the Author: Our guest blogger is Emma Wojtowicz, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Office of Public Affairs. Additional content provided by Government Book Talk Editor: Michele Bartram, Promotions & eCommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division.


Happy 66th -or 106th- Birthday, US Air Force

September 18, 2013

According to the Department of Defense’s website, the United States Air Force is 66 years ago today “that the National Security Act of 1947 turned what was then known as the Army Air Corps into the United States Department of the Air Force. A strategic, tactical and defensive force for the skies, the Air Force has become a vital role in our country’s military power.

USAF-Birthday-Video

Watch this US Air Force birthday video on YouTube.

However, if you add in the years since the Army Air Corps first flew in 1907, then the Air Force’s operations have really been going strong for 106 years today. It all depends on how you count it.

Therefore, it is fitting to look at the entirety of military aviation when looking at the US Air Force’s illustrious history.

A number of excellent publications have come out recently, both in print and eBooks, for the US Air Force, Army Air Corps and military aviation in general.

The ones we most recommend for understanding the evolution of today’s US Air Force include:

Overall History and Mission

008-070-00727-4The best two books covering the overall history and mission of what is now the United States Air Force are A Concise History of the United States Air Force and its recently released EPUB eBook version, as well as the extremely thought-provoking Air Force Roles and Missions: A History (also recently released as an eBook) which traces the evolution of the Air Force’s role and missions as well as the conflicts with other branches of the military over these definitions.

Early Beginnings through World War 1

Are you more interested in the earliest days of aviation when the Army first bought one of the Wright Brothers’ planes and its “daring young men in those flying machines” began to determine how airpower could be used for military purposes? Then you should read Logbook of the Signal Corps No. 1: The United States Army’s First Airplane in paperback or as a new eBook, which recounts the experiences of Benjamin D. Foulois, the pioneering, self-taught pilot of “Signal Corps No. 1″, the very first airplane of the United States Army Signal Corps.

HAP: Henry H. Arnold, Military Aviator, Shown here as Army Flight Instructor in College Park, Maryland. ISBN: 0-16-049071-5And don’t miss HAP: Henry H. Arnold, Military Aviator (Paperback) or the new EPUB eBook edition which tells the story of beloved Henry “Hap” Arnold, one of the first Army flight instructors and daring pilot. (See his image to the right as an Army Flight Instructor. Image courtesy: College Park Aviation Museum.)

Another very popular publication tells the story of air espionage during World War 1: Shooting the Front: Allied Aerial Reconnaissance and Photographic Interpretation on the Western Front – World War I.

Shooting the Front: Allied Aerial Reconnaissance and Photographic Interpretation on the Western Front - World War I (Paperbound)

World War 2

World War II is when it is widely acknowledged that military aviation came into its own. Toward Independence: The Emergence of the United States Air Force, 1945-1947 tells of the rapid evolution in use of airpower in the period leading up to its formation as a separate entity.

Korean War

By the Korean War, the US Air Force had become its own branch of the United States Armed Forces. Several publications chronicle the involvement of the newly formed USAF during this conflict, including Within Limits: The United States Air Force and the Korean War, Coalition Air Warfare in the Korean War, 1950 1953, and Silver Wings, Golden Valor: The USAF Remembers Korea which includes reminiscences and perspectives of Korean War Air Force veterans and historians.

Vietnam War

War Too Long: The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia 1961-1975 ISBN: 9780160613692Over 50 years later, Americans are still wrestling with the lessons of Vietnam. So, too, is the Air Force in these excellent USAF publications War Too Long: The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia 1961-1975  and War in South Vietnam: The Years of the Offensive, 1965-1968, as well as this Army digital publication, Interservice Rivalry and Airpower in the Vietnam War (eBook).

Cold War and Space Race

When the Soviets launched Sputnik, the space race was subsequently kicked off with the United States. The Air Force role was critical during the Cold War and in both in helping start our space exploration and ongoing support through to today in support of NASA. Read Early Cold War Overflights, 1950-1956 to understand the beginning of the espionage flights, and pick up a copy of the United States Air Force in Space, 1945 to the Twenty-First Century which covers the Air Force’s involvement in space exploration.

Gulf War to the Present

None of us can forget the images of bombs dropping during the Gulf War, the tale of which is told in Decisive Force: Strategic Bombing in the Gulf War.

Turning Point 9.11: Air Force Reserve in the 21st Century, 2001-2011  ISBN: 9780160914485And anyone with family in or who themselves are in the National Guard or a military reservist knows how the Gulf Wars and Afghanistan have changed the role of these personnel from backup to active participants. One of the best books we’ve read on the subject is the excellent Turning Point 9.11: Air Force Reserve in the 21st Century, 2001-2011 which chronicles these stark changes in the Air Force Reserve since the terrorist attacks on 9.11.2001.

Air Force on TV and in the Movies

Fans of the movie “War Games” will know about NORAD. Learn the true story behind this important homeland airspace defense organization in Guarding What You Value Most: North American Aerospace Defense Command Celebrating 50 Years and a new EPUB eBook version. Includes the heart-warming story of NORAD’s Christmas Eve Santa Tracker. (Read about this in our blog post Tracking “Big Red”: NORAD’s Secret Santa Mission [UPDATED].)

Fans of the TV show “JAG” Will love to discover the real history of this Air Force department in First 50 Years: United States Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Department.

Humanitarian Operations

Wings of Hope: The United States Air Force and Humanitarian Airlift OperationsLike the other branches of the US military, the US Air Force plays an important role in humanitarian operations, both here at home and worldwide. This publication—Wings of Hope: The United States Air Force and Humanitarian Airlift Operations—tells the overall story of various airlift operations. While it sounds like the plot of a disaster movie, the Ash Warriors (paperback) and its EPUB eBook version recounts the true story of the “Ash Warriors,” those Air Force men and women who carried out their mission in the face of an incredible series of natural disasters, including volcanic eruption, flood, typhoons, and earthquakes, all of which plagued Clark Air Base in the Philippines and the surrounding areas during June and July 1991. And the horrendous Hurricane Katrina brought out the best in the Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command, whose role is described in Operation Dragon Comeback: Air Education and Training Command’s Response to Hurricane Katrina.

“Blue Sky” Future

So join us in wishing a very happy 66th (or 106th) birthday to our very own United States Air Force. May there be blue skies in its future!

How can I obtain these Air Force History publications?

  • 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 shopping our United States Air Force (USAF) History collection under our US & Military History category.
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Visit our Retail Store: Buy a copy of 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.
  • Find them in a Library: Find these publications in a 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.


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.


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