Goodbye GPO Access, Hello FDsys

March 16, 2012

Guest blogger Kelly Seifert, Lead Planning Specialist for GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division, writes about the final switchover from GPO Access to FDsys, GPO’s state-of-the-art digital database of Federal information.

Farewell, GPO Access! GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) is here to stay and is better than ever.

Today, March 16, 2012, marks a momentous occasion for the Government Printing Office and its groundbreaking service, GPO Access. After 16 years of keeping America informed, the GPO Access website is shutting down and been replaced by its successor, GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys).

Image: Switchover notice from GPO Access to FDsys

All of the information the public had access to on GPO Access and more is available through FDsys (pronounced by “those in the know” as “F – D – sis”).

While not the traditional “Government book” discussed on this blog, we at GPO thought it only appropriate to blog about a service that provides free access to a vast number of Federal Government publications. FDsys provides the American public with free online access to about 50 different collections of U.S. Government information ranging from the Code of Federal Regulations to the U.S. Government Manual to the U.S. Budget.

Image: GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) home page, www.FDsys.gov

GPO Access introduced electronic access to Government information

In 1993, Congress passed the U.S. Government Printing Office Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act (Public Law 103-40), which expanded GPO’s mission to provide access to Federal Government information not only in print, but also electronically. In June 1994, in response to that legislation, GPO launched GPO Access.

FDsys takes electronic access to new levels

Even the best of information systems have to evolve. Thus it was in January 2009 that GPO unveiled the next generation of Government information online with FDsys. The countdown to the shut-down of GPO Access began on December 20, 2010, when FDsys became GPO’s official system of record for free access to information and publications from all three branches of the Federal Government. In November 2011, GPO Access entered its “archive only” state and transitioned its status to historical reference archive. From that point forward, FDsys was GPO’s only resource for access to current, updated information, and now, GPO Access has shut down for good.

Image: FDSys Advanced Search results page

FDsys offers new, improved features to find Government publications

FDsys boasts key enhancements to GPO Access that allow users from librarians to scholars, researchers, lawyers and the public to:

  • Easily search across multiple Government publications;
  • Perform advanced searches against robust metadata about each publication;
  • Construct complex search queries;
  • Refine and narrow searches;
  • Retrieve individual Government documents and publications in seconds directly from each search result;
  • View more information about a publication and access multiple file formats for each search result;
  • Access metadata in standard XML formats;
  • Download content and metadata packaged together as a single ZIP file;
  • Browse FDsys alphabetically by collection, by Congressional committee, by date, and by Government author; and
  • Utilize extensive help tools and tutorials.

Image: List of collections of Federal Government publications available on FDSys

Links to printed versions of Government publications

In addition to providing free access to almost 50 different Government publications online, FDsys also directs you to GPO’s Online Bookstore, where you can buy those same publications, if you wish to have a bound and printed official copy.

As a GPO employee who has worked extensively with FDsys, I think you will really enjoy it and the new, enhanced features that are provided by FDsys for navigating Government information.

How do I find Federal Government publications?

  • Search GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) at www.FDsys.gov.
  • Search GPO’s Catalog of Government Publications (CGP) at http://catalog.gpo.gov.
  • Shop GPO’s Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
  • Visit GPO’s Retail Bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday through Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays. Call (202) 512-0132 for more information.

Society through a Comic Lens

February 7, 2012

By Guest Blogger, Marianne Mason, Federal Information Librarian, Research and Library Instruction at The University of Iowa Libraries

Comic books are not really books and often not comic, but are serialized graphics-based stories expressed through political and cultural rhetoric.  Think Maus, a story of the Holocaust.  Think Peanuts’ ethics and theology.

O.K., not all comic books or graphic novels are Pulitzer Prize winners or speak to a deep sense of ethics.  The pure entertainment value of storytelling through sequential art can be worthy on its own merits.  However, the comics can inform, persuade, and encourage new behaviors in readers.  This is the purpose of comic books authored by U.S. government agencies.

Used as social program marketing tools for decades, the government-authored comic book format has been used to promote program benefits (Social Security Administration) and to educate (Consumer Product Safety Commission) using superhero/anti-hero models like Sprocket Man (reviewed in our April 9, 2010, blog post “Just for Fun: Sprocket Man!” ) and El Gato to capture the attention of the targeted audience and cross educational boundaries.

The Army made instruction manuals measurably more appealing to combat personnel in PS Magazine by incorporating sexual innuendo in both dialog and character illustration such as in this Preventive Maintenance manual shown below:

In October 2011 the University of Iowa hosted a scholarly symposium entitled “Comics, Creativity, and Culture: International and Interdisciplinary Perspectives”, a by-invitation-only event for scholars, artists and creators of the art and literature of comic books.  The Symposium spawned a semester-long series of complementary university sponsored events ranging from art exhibits, radio broadcasts, discussions, and interactive workshops for educators and K-12 students.  The University of Iowa Libraries contributed to the celebration by creating a Comic Book Café based on the Japanese “Manga Café” model.  Several specialized library collections, including Government Information, pooled their best examples for the café.

As the U.S. Government Information Librarian, I found that this event gave me an opportunity to draw attention to the characteristics and range of government authored comic books.  Creating a government comics research guide  gave me an opportunity to do a thorough survey of the collection,  access the content of the print collection and provide links to digitized collections from the broader government information community, including this latest online booklet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Preparedness 101: A Zombie Pandemic”.

In addition, the research guide provides database access to many Congressional hearings and reports in the UI collection from the 1950’s linking juvenile delinquency to explicit violence in comic books.

Whether quirky or more profound, all reflect changing societal norms that drive public policy initiatives.

On October 4th an “egg timer” book talk called Thought Balloons: Talking about Comics”, was held in the Café for creators and readers of comics to share insights and stories about connections to comic book literature.  One reader commented that when she and her boyfriend merged their comic book collections, she knew their love was here to stay!

Note regarding Images:

Images in order of mention: Sprocket Man, The 9 Lives of El Gato, PS Magazine, Comic Book Café, Zombie Pandemic (“broader gov. community”), Comic books and juvenile delinquency.  Serial Set 11815-1 (S. Rpt. 62, 84 Cong., 1st Session) 1955, Thought Balloons. Source: University of Iowa Libraries.

About our Guest Blogger:

Marianne Mason has worked with Government and legal resources in several law libraries and universities and at University of Iowa Libraries since 2001 as the regional librarian for the State of Iowa.  Her idea of a fine vacation involves clear water, forests, and the absence of machinery/technology noise.  She knows how to knit socks, two-at-a-time, toe up.


More resources about Government-created comics:


Statistical Abstract and Print Mashups in a Digital Age

October 13, 2011

 

Since 1878, the Statistical Abstract of the United States has been printed by the Government Printing Office on behalf of the Census Bureau.

The “Stat Abstract” is considered “the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States,” and compiles data from multiple sources, including: the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and many other Federal agencies and private organizations. Each year, new tables and analyses are added to keep up with the issues and interests of the day.

As Jim Cameron mentioned in his February post about the 2011 edition,

“Family debt, manufacturing, national security, international statistics – there doesn’t seem to be anything that the Statistical Abstract doesn’t cover. At more than 1,000 pages, it’s an America watcher’s dream.”

This important publication has fulfilled a unique niche for over a century for students, educators, researchers and librarians throughout the country as the definitive source of US statistics. As one librarian put it, “The print edition is THE most used reference book in my collection.”

Why is having all this information in a single, compiled, cited, and referenced edition important to its users? Michael Fry, Senior Map Librarian for the National Geographic Society Library and Archives says:

“[W]hile the Census Bureau may be correct that the data is “available elsewhere,” the beauty of the Stat Abstract is that it obviated users’ need to know where “elsewhere” was. And that, as librarians know, can be (at least) half the battle.”

After fifteen years in the Internet industry, I am highly aware of how important it is to your intended audience to be able to quickly and easily find the information they are looking for, and how difficult this search task is made for the users by most web sites.

This has led to an entire field of search engine optimization also called SEO. Unfortunately, all the SEO in the world can’t overcome the amount of time and effort necessary to find all the content and data you need if it is scattered across many web pages and web sites.

In a world where time is money and convenience is king, the time savings in both finding the necessary data and knowing immediately the official source that produced that data are key benefits of a book like the Statistical Abstract. In a sense, this book is the ultimate printed “mashup” that blends data from multiple sources into a cohesive whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Who would have thought that a 134 year-old publication tradition would have such relevance in a digital age?  Unfortunately, compiling all this data and obtaining publication rights is increasingly expensive,  as many experts and a lot of effort are needed to pull together a work of this complexity. Thus, this may be the last year in its compiled format, since in its Fiscal Year 2012 budget submission to Congress, the Census Bureau requested “a decrease to terminate the Statistical Abstract program.

So, you may want to get what may be the last print edition of the Statistical Abstract of the United States at the US Government Bookstore in paperback or hardcover or find it in a library. Or you can see the tables online here.

Some interesting facts from the 2012 edition:

  • Increase in US Population: Between April 1, 2000 and April 1, 2010 there was a 9.7 percent increase in the resident population of the United States. The state with the highest percentage increase in resident population during the same time period was Nevada (35.1), while the only state that experienced a decrease was Michigan (-0.6). (Table 14)
  • Retail profits up: For retail trade corporations with assets of 50 billion dollars or more, net profit increased from 54.0 billion in 2008 to 84.1 billion in 2009. Profits per dollar of sales before taxes also increased from 2.6 cents per dollar of sales in 2008 up to 4.1 cents per dollar of sales in 2009. (Table 1052)
  • 80% has Internet access: In 2010, approximately 20 percent of households did not use the Internet…[, and] 80 percent of households had an Internet connection anywhere (at home or mobile etc). (Table 1155)

 

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division and is responsible for marketing the US Government Online Bookstore (Bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


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