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!


Federal Books that Shaped Work in America

December 30, 2013

Federal Government Books that Shaped Work in America, a collection about employment, careers, occupations, job hunting by the US Government BookstoreThe end of the calendar year typically provokes many lists and reviews reflecting on the past. Here at the Government Printing Office’s Government Book Talk blog and the U.S. Government Bookstore is no exception. A few weeks ago, we were contacted by Mike Volpe at the Department of Labor (DOL) about an exciting and relevant initiative they are running in honor of the Labor Department’s Centennial in 2013 that looks back on the important work-related publications across the country.

Image above: Logo of the Department of Labor’s “Books that Shaped Work in America” project. See the Government Printing Office’s list of Federal  Books that Shaped Work in America.

According to Carl Fillichio, Senior Advisor for Public Affairs and Communications at the U.S. Department of Labor and chair of the Department’s Centennial, the Department of Labor is developing a list of Books that Shaped Work in America in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

MICHELE BARTRAM, Government Book Talk Editor: Carl, I understand that a Library of Congress “Books that Shaped America” exhibition in 2012 was the inspiration for the Department of Labor project. What was the relationship between the two and how was the idea born for the DOL version?

Carl Fillichio, Senior Advisor for Public Affairs and Communications at the U.S. Department of LaborImage: Carl Fillichio, Senior Advisor for Public Affairs and Communications at the U.S. Department of Labor, and chair of the Department’s Centennial.

CARL FILLICHIO:  The Labor Department was not actually involved in the “Books that Shaped America” exhibition at the Library of Congress, other than being big fans of it!  Rather, it served as the inspiration for this project.  The number and wide diversity of books on that list that had work as a central theme really impressed upon us the role that published works have played in shaping American workers and workplaces.  That’s how the idea for this project was born.

BARTRAM: What is the goal of this new DOL project? What do you want citizens to get out of it?

FILLICHIO: The goal is to engage and educate the American public about the Labor Department’s mission, resources and history in our centennial year in an unusual way: through a lens of literature.  The project is a key part of our Centennial commemoration; the Department was established in 1913.  So we thought this would be a “novel” [pun intended! ;-)] way to involve the citizens we serve in the marking of this milestone.

For each book included on the list (now and in the future), we note how its themes relate to our work.  We hope citizens will learn more about what we do and consider the many ways our work has impacted Americans’ lives during our 100-year existence.

BARTRAM: What are the criteria for adding items to the list? Can they be eBooks as well as print? Do they need to be still in print?

FILLICHIO: Just like work, books have changed a lot in the last 100 years—not only in the themes they address, but also in how we access them!  So, books do not need to be in print to be on the list.  We started the list with 92 entries, all recommendations from various contributors with diverse perspectives on books and/or work (including almost all former living Labor Secretaries).  We will now add to it based on public input.

To be added to the list, the book needs to have had an impact on America’s workers, workplace and workforce.  That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be about work per se, but rather have shaped how it is viewed or, in some cases, addressed through public policy.

Watch the video below for an introduction to the “Books that Shaped Work in America” project:


Click on video image above.

BARTRAM: What is the most surprising/ unusual addition to the list, in your opinion?

FILLICHIO: That’s a great question, Michele!  As noted earlier, not all books on the list are overtly about work, and one great example is Little Women, which was recommended by a Labor Department intern, Amanda Kraft.  While there are several books on the list that touch upon working women, that one—published in 1869—sticks out to me because it was so ahead of its time.  It was about women and ambition—long before women were “allowed” or encouraged to be ambitious.  It had and continues to have a big impact on working women.

BARTRAM: “Little Women” certainly influenced me. Do you have some other fun facts about the project you’d like to share?

FILLICHIO: Here are a few fascinating facts:

  • We started with 92 books based on recommendations from 25 contributors.  These contributors run the gamut from the current and former Labor Secretaries to best-selling authors to small business owners.
  • The books range in publication date from 1758 (Poor Richard Improved, by Benjamin Franklin) to 2013 (My Beloved World, but Sonia Sotomayor).
  • One of the books recommended by the current Labor Secretary, Thomas E. Perez, is Busy, Busy Town—a classic children’s book that introduces very young readers to the purpose and value of work, to both oneself and others.
  • We have received nearly 500 recommendations for books to add to the list so far.

BARTRAM:  How can our Government Book Talk readers get involved in the DOL project?

FILLICHIO: To get started with the list, we asked members of the DOL family, as well as many other esteemed individuals, for suggestions. That includes the public!

Your readers who have recommendations for memorable and important print or digital publications to add to the DOL list should click on our Suggest a book link on our special Books that Shaped Work in America website, http://www.dol.gov/100/books-shaped-work/. Publications can be either from the past or present and should have influenced or relate to jobs, employment, careers and other work-related topics.

If you want to add a book, you will only need to submit the publication’s  Title, the Author, and a brief Description of why you think the book shaped work in America or influenced the work you do or have done.

BARTRAM: Anything to add in summary, Carl?

FILLICHIO: I think this quote from U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez says it best:

The ‘Books that Shaped Work in America’ initiative explores the dignity of work and our progress in expanding America’s fundamental promise of opportunity for all through the lens of literature. Think of this effort as an online book club where people from all walks of life can share books that informed them about occupations and careers, molded their views about work and helped elevate the discourse about work, workers and workplaces. At the same time, the site provides a unique way for people to learn about the mission and resources of the U.S. Department of Labor.

(Read the entire 11/20/2013 DOL Press Release here)

BARTRAM: Thank you so much for this information about this significant project.

We at GPO want to contribute to the list by recommending these important Federal Government publications we have produced for Federal agencies that we feel belong on the list as “Federal Books that Shaped Work in America”!

Federal Books to Identify Industry and Career Trends

Not surprising, many of the more important Federal books about work have come from the Department of Labor, from information about occupations and industries to advice to job seekers.

The DOL’s Employment and Training Administration has designed a set of self-directed career exploration/assessment tools to help workers consider and plan career options, preparation, and transitions more effectively. They also are designed for use by students who are exploring the school-to-work transition. These tools are based on the O*NET model built off the Labor Department’s O*NET database which contains information on hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors. The O*NET Content Model defines the key features of a particular occupation with its unique mix of required knowledge, skills, and abilities, activities and tasks, and describes the day-to-day aspects of the job and the qualifications and interests of the typical worker.

Book Cover Image for O*Net Version 3.0: Work Importance Locator, User\'s GuideCareer counselors and job seekers can use the O*NET tools to link to the more than 800 occupations described by the O*NET database, as well as to occupational information in CareerOneStop. This allows users to make a seamless transition from assessing their personal interests, work values, and abilities to matching their job skills with the requirements of different occupations in their local labor market. Find all the O*NET Career Assessment publications here on the U.S. Government Bookstore.  

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes additional books about career and industry trends, including:

Other Federal agencies also have published important books about careers, including:

  • United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions 2012 (Plum Book)Every four years after a Presidential election, Congress issues the famous “Plum Book” that lists the over 9,000 civil service leadership and support positions in the Legislative and Executive branches of the Federal Government that may be filled by direct political appointment. The United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions 2012 (Plum Book) was the most current edition. (See other Federal employment publications in our Working for the Federal Government collection.)
  • A Life Inspired: Tales of Peace Corps Service recounts the unique experience of being a Peace Corps Volunteer via autobiographical reminiscences by 28 former Peace Corps volunteers.
  • Book Cover Image for Standard Occupational Classification Manual 2010 (Revised)The Standard Occupational Classification Manual 2010 (Revised) by the Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) presents the standard occupational codes, structure, titles, definitions, and illustrative examples of job titles found in key occupations.
  • Unfortunately being discontinued next year as a formal publication is the Survey of Current Business subscription by the Commerce Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration Bureau of Economic Analysis. This key publication was critical to business planning as it provided national income and product statistics, including the U.S. Gross National Product, the GNP implicit price deflator and corporate profits and articles about trends in industry, the business situation, and outlook.

Books that Provided Job Hunting Advice

Books to Keep Workers Safe and Healthy

The existence of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA within the Labor Department and the subsequent laws and regulations it oversees to improve workplace safety and worker health has drastically improved working conditions for generations of American workers. Over the years, OSHA has published a number of publications for both industry and workers. All About OSHA (Package of 25 booklets)Today, it publishes All About OSHA (or Todo Sobre la OSHA (Spanish Language Version), a brochure explaining how OSHA operates, workplace and worker safety standards and enforcement, required employer recordkeeping, OSHA services and programs, and even whistleblower protections.

NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, offers the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards to help workers and employers detect and prevent chemical accidents.

Reclamation Safety and Health StandardsA similar publication exists from the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. Reclamation Safety and Health Standards contains safety and health standards for workers in water management facilities and hydroelectric power plants.

The Army Medical Department produces a number of excellent publications about working conditions and health of the military personnel. Textbooks of Military Medicine, Pt. 3, Disease and the Environment: Occupational Health, The Soldier and the Industrial Base gives information on occupational health of military personnel.

Examining man-made disasters and their causes and remedies is a key role of Federal Government. One of the more important publications affecting regulations and Americans’ attitudes toward offshore drilling was the 2011 Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, Report to the President (in paperback) or ePub eBook.

Breaking the Mishap Chain: Human Factors Lessons Learned From Aerospace AccidentNASA has provided us with Breaking the Mishap Chain: Human Factors Lessons Learned From Aerospace Accidents and Incidents in Research, Flight Test, and Development (ePub eBook), a collection of case studies of mishaps involving experimental aircraft, aerospace vehicles, and spacecraft in which human factors played a significant role.

Books about Minorities in the Workplace

Impact of Illegal Immigration on Wages Employment of Black WorkersThe Commission on Civil Rights published The Impact of Illegal Immigration on the Wages and Employment Opportunities of Black Workers to examine the possible effects of illegal immigration on particularly vulnerable segments of the U.S. working population, specifically low-skill black workers.

Veterans’ rights and benefits are outlined in the annual Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents & Survivors, offered in English or Spanish, that includes work-related issues such as vocational rehabilitation; workplace benefits; and education, transition and training.

Invest in Women, Invest in America: A Review of Women in the U.S. EconomyWomen in the workplace were addressed in these two key publications that are still available. The Joint Economic Committee of Congress published Invest in Women, Invest in America: A Comprehensive Review of Women in the U.S. Economy that provides a comprehensive review of the “essential contributions of women” to the U.S. economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics published Women in the Labor Force: A Databook which presents historical and current labor force and earnings data for women compared to men from the Current Population Survey.

And child labor and protection issues were addressed in the recent exciting publication, The Children’s Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood (ePub eBook).

Nisei Linguists:Japanese Americans in Military Intelligence Service During WW IIFinally, the engrossing Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During World War II (Paperback) or ePub eBook recounts the contributions of Japanese Americans during World War 2, even as many of their family members were being detained in internment camps across America.

Readers, if you want to recommend other Federal publications, past or present, that you feel have influenced work in America, let us know by sending us a COMMENT at the end of this post!

How can I obtain these “Federal Books that Shaped Work in America”?

  • 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
  • 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.


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

August 13, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stop and Smell the Roses at a National Park or Trail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Support for Your Pursuit of Happiness

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

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

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

How can Federal Depository librarians access these publications?

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

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


Dams and Hydropower in the West

January 19, 2011

Although the words “Woody Guthrie” and “Federal employee” don’t usually come to mind together, in May 1941, the Government hired the great folk singer to write songs about some of its hydropower projects in the Pacific Northwest. The results included such classics as “Roll on Columbia,” “Pastures of Plenty,” and “Grand Coulee Dam.”

Woody and his songs came to mind as I started thumbing through Dams, Dynamos, and Development: The Bureau of Reclamation’s Power Program and Electrification of the West, a handsome, large-format book published for the centennial of the Bureau in 2002 and now back in print. It includes a broad array of wonderful black and white and color photos, as well as reproductions of art work (even a Norman Rockwell, left), all of which illustrate the history and activities of the Bureau in building dams and power plants to generate electricity. Many of the photos capture Woody’s “big Grand Coulee country in the land I love the best” and the other rivers and canyons of the West.

It’s not just a picture book; there’s also a lot of hard information on the history of the program, the changing views of the effects of dams and hydropower facilities on the environment – even an extensive listing and photo gallery of the 58 power plants that comprise the Bureau’s power network. It conjures up the heroic age of building America’s infrastructure while addressing such issues as alternative power sources and environmental protection.

You can get a copy of this excellent book here or find it in a library. If you want to view some of the art work, check out the Bureau’s American Artist and Water Reclamation Web page; for some of the photos, there’s the Bureau of Reclamation Photography and Engineering Drawings Collections page.


A New Deal Legacy

August 30, 2010

One of my uncles logged in some time at a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp during the Depression of the 1930’s, so The Bureau of Reclamation’s Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy: 1933-1942 caught my eye while I was looking over a list of new books at GPO. When the Roosevelt Administration established the CCC in 1933, America’s youth had been hit extra hard by America’s drastic economic decline. In addition to putting thousands of young men like my uncle to work, the CCC’s legacy includes a myriad of buildings, picnic shelters, and other structures still in use today across the country.

This is a weighty tome, indeed. It was originally published in 2000 and revised to include updated research and more photos. In addition to an interesting essay on the history of the national CCC and another on the Bureau of Reclamation’s involvement, the bulk of the book is made up of brief forms describing the history and activities of each Reclamation camp. The real revelation to me was the involvement of the Bureau – I’ve always thought that the Forest Service and the National Park Service were the major Government players regarding the CCC. The book is nicely designed and includes many period photos of the CCC at work, and of the structures they built as they look today.

Note: Although a great resource for students of the CCC, this is mainly a reference work rather than a narrative history. As such, it would be a good addition to library collections.

You can look through it here, buy a copy here, or find it in a library.


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