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March 31, 2010

Since we’ve had numerous requests for an RSS feed, there is now a page where you can sign up: https://govbooktalk.wordpress.com/feed/. Thanks for this constructive input.


Dr. Seuss, U.S. Army

March 31, 2010

When I was a kid, I loved to rummage through a bunch of pamphlets that had belonged to my Uncle Teddy. I never knew my uncle because he went missing in action in the Pacific during World War II, so for me his memory was perpetuated mainly by these little U.S. Government booklets about getting along in China, North Africa, Iran, and other wartime hot spots. One of my favorites was “Meet Ann…She’s Dying to Meet You,” a 36-pager about the perils of contracting malaria from the Anopheles mosquito. The illustrations were cartoons, usually showing some poor sap (it’s easy to fall back into the slang of the era) getting bitten by Ann or failing to employ mosquito netting.

Fast forward a good many years to a Federal depository library conference featuring a talk on “Government Publications as Rare Books.” The presenter said, “This booklet goes for $600 and up” and flashed the cover of “Meet Ann” on the screen. Yikes! The cartoonist was Dr. Seuss when he was Captain Ted Geisel, U.S. Army, and this little pamphlet is one of his hardest to find publications. The author of the text was no slouch, either: Munro Leaf, author of “Ferdinand the Bull.” As soon as I got home, I put my little pamphlet in a safer place! My copy probably would be worth even more if I hadn’t “autographed” it on the back cover when I was about 10. Oh, well…

 If you’d like to take a peek at “Meet Ann” online, try this USDA site.


March Madness

March 30, 2010

College basketball playoffs are wildly popular and followed by millions of fans, including some in our office. Last year, we came up with the idea of doing a “Sweet 16” playoff of Government publications on GPO’s online bookstore. After working with our web support team, which is both creative and very patient, we launched our first playoff last year. We sent out a message to all of our customers who have requested information about our products and sat back to see if anything would happen. It did! By the time our “tournament” was over, we received more than 139,000 votes and a mention in the New York Times business blog.

I think this proves that Government publications have fans, and highly motivated fans at that. The winner? You can find it here.

Now it’s March again, and this year it’s a National Parks Playoff, featuring eight National Park Service handbooks and eight posters by the noted artist Charley Harper (who will be the subject of a future posting here). If you get a chance, stop by and vote!


Welcome!

March 30, 2010

Welcome to the U.S. Government Printing Office’s (GPO) Government Book Talk! Our goal is to raise the profile of some of the best publications from the Federal Government, past and present.  We’ll be reviewing new and popular publications, providing information about new publications in the offing, and talking about some out-of-print classics. The goal is to spotlight the amazing variety of Government publications and their impact on ourselves and our world – and have fun while doing it.

 About the agency: GPO opened its doors on March 4, 1861 and is part of the legislative branch of the federal government.  GPO employees have been Keeping America Informed on the documents of our democracy, in both printed and electronic form, for the last 150 years.  The agency produces the Congressional Record, Federal Register, the nation’s passports, and other Federal Government documents.

About the blogger: My name is Jim Cameron (not the movie director). I’m a long-time GPO employee, working mainly for the agency’s publications sales program in the areas of writing, editing, and outreach, but I also have a good deal of  experience with the Federal depository library side of the house. I’m a serious book person – my wife claims that I own several thousand books, but I’m sure that’s an exaggeration. My interests lie mainly in the areas of history and biography – perfect for someone involved with Government books.

But, as they say, enough about me. I’d like this online conversation to be as informative and enjoyable as one we’d have in a book club. If you have thoughts about a post, more information about a topic, or ideas about books to discuss, let me know. I see this blog not as a single voice, but as a community of book lovers, be those books print or electronic. Let the discussion begin!


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