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

April 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the author: Our guest blogger is Cathy Wagner, a GPO Outreach Librarian for the U.S. Government Printing Office’s Library Services & Content Management (LSCM) Division. Additional content, images and editing provided by Trudy Hawkins, a writer and marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).


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.


Gift-Giving Traditions and 12 Books of Christmas

December 5, 2013

ORIGINS OF HOLIDAY GIFT-GIVING

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

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

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

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

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

12_books_of_christmas-bannerImage courtesy Scholastic.

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

KIDS’ CORNER BOOKS

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

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

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

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

NON-FICTION MULTIMEDIA AND PRINT BOOKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

NON-FICTION EBOOKS

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

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

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

AND OUR FREE E-GIFT TO YOU

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

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

FREE SHIPPING ADDS TO THE JOY OF GIVING

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

How can I obtain these 12 Bargain Books?

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the links above in this blog post or clicking here to shop all our BARGAINS UNDER $20 publications.
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library.

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

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


Over 1 Billion Served: GPO’s Pueblo Distribution Center Hits Historic Milestone Today

May 7, 2013

GPO_Pueblo_1_Billion-Shipped1 Billion.  One thousand million. Any way you count it, that’s a bundle! And at the US Government Printing Office Document Distribution Center in Pueblo, Colorado, we have reached that magic number. As of today, our Pueblo facility has shipped over 1 billion consumer publications, making it a bundle of bundles sent out to the American people!

GPO’s Western Expansion

Growing up, I always heard or read public service announcements from the Federal Government offering helpful advice on everything from how mortgages work to getting vaccinations. Each time, the commercial or ad would end with the same tag line: “To order this helpful free publication, contact us in Pueblo, Colorado” and an address and phone number (and today, a website address) would be given with ordering information.  I thought it amazing that all this great consumer information was available from one Colorado town.

Although unbeknownst to me at the time, it turns out this famous Pueblo location is actually one of two distribution facilities operated by the Government Printing Office’s Agency Distribution Services that stores and ships out Government publications on behalf of our Federal agency clients to the public –the other being in Laurel, Maryland.

In an effort led by House Appropriations Committee member Congressman Frank Evans, the GPO distribution facility was proposed and then approved on October 8, 1970, by the Joint Committee on Printing and the 15th Public Printer of the United States, Adolphus Nichol (Nick) Spence. The Pueblo Public Documents Distribution Center (PuDDC) was dedicated on October 8, 1971, and opened on October 11, 1971, to provide support for the expanding dissemination needs of Federal agencies, from books to posters to other products.

GPO_Pueblo_Congressman-Frank-Evans-Distribution-CenterLast year, President Barack Obama signed an act of the 111th Congress to rename the center the “Congressman Frank Evans US Government Printing Office Pueblo Document Distribution Center” after the former Congressman who passed away in June of 2010. It was re-dedicated on October 11, 2011, for the fortieth anniversary of the Pueblo facility.

Image: Renaming ceremony of the GPO Pueblo facility on October 11, 2011.

Today, GPO’s Pueblo Document Distribution Center provides distribution services to 10 federal agencies and other entities including: The Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Health and Human Service (HHS – Women’s Health), Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and three programs within the Department of Homeland Security  that produce items such as Transportation Security Administration (TSA) posters, bookmarks and baggage inserts.

Ruehlen-at-Pueblo-PuDDCImage: Jimmy Ruehlen has worked for Pueblo’s Government Printing Office Distribution Center since it began operations 40 years ago. Photo credit: The Pueblo Chieftain / Mike Sweeney (Photographer)

The Pueblo Distribution Center has processed over 105 million customer orders from the day it opened its doors through the end of April 2013, and as of today, May 2, 2013, the Center has distributed over 1 billion publications on behalf of its various Federal clients.

GPO Gets a “CIC” out of Distributing Consumer Publications

The Pueblo facility really got a kick-start when it signed an inter-agency agreement with the General Services Administration (GSA) in January of 1973 to take over the warehousing and distribution of the millions of printed consumer publications being provided through GSA’s then-new Consumer Information Center (or CIC), which itself has provided service to the GSA’s Federal Citizen Information Center (or FCIC), the U.S. Postal Service and the Department of Education.

Consumer-Info-Catalog-Winter-Spring-2013_coverThe gem in the FCIC’s crown is the Consumer Information Catalog, printed by GPO, which lists the latest and most popular of the many thousands of consumer publications available by topic and is updated several times a year.

Most of the print publications–the majority printed by GPO– in the Consumer Information Catalog are FREE for U.S. delivery if ordered online; the rest require only a nominal fee. Plus, a number of the publications are offered for FREE in electronic format for immediate download on the Publications.USA.gov website.

Some of the many categories of helpful consumer pamphlets and publications include: Education; Employment; Family including Pets; Federal Programs and Benefits, Food; Health including Drugs and Exercise & Diet (even information on braces, tattoos, and tanning!); Housing including Financing and Home Maintenance; the ever-popular Money category including Fraud, Credit Cards, Living Trusts, and Retirement Planning; even Small Business and Travel, and more.

Consumer-Info-Catalog-Winter-Spring-2013_Page_11

Image: Page from the Consumer Information Catalog Winter/ Spring 2013 Edition.

How can I get a copy of the Consumer Information Catalog and order publications?

Find the latest Consumer Information Catalog in PDF format online, or you can also order FREE print copies to be mailed to you at the same Publications.USA.gov website.

Consumer-Action-Handbook-2013The most popular document distributed by Pueblo remains the annual Consumer Action Handbook, a free trouble-shooting guide to help Americans solve all sorts of consumer problems. I’ve ordered five to share with family and friends!

In addition to ordering from GSA’s Publications.USA.gov website, you can find a number of these consumer publications on GPO’s US Government Online Bookstore.

Below are some of the more popular publications in the Consumer Information Catalog that are also available on GPO’s online bookstore:

You can also browse our Consumer, Home & Family category on our online bookstore.

With so many useful consumer publications available from the Federal Government, I’m sure it won’t be long until we distribute another billion items to help American consumers!

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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