Go Native and Get Healthy: Fight diabetes with a healthy Native American diet

November 21, 2013

It’s Native American Heritage Month! Let’s celebrate! Let’s have some pumpkin seeds and some corn silk tea!

American Indian girl with Navajo fry breadThis month is a month to honor Indian heritage, and many powwows* and festivals are being held to honor Indian culture, so you definitely want to do something festive. There are few Indian celebrations that do not include luscious frybread, with its accompaniment of Indian taco meat, honey or colored syrup. (Frybread or fry bread, a notable Native American food, is the official “state bread” of South Dakota!)

Image: Native American girl holding a plate of Navajo frybread. Photo credit: AP

The temptations of frybread aside, a better way to for you to celebrate would be with a healthy food, like an apple or a carrot stick. Maybe you’d even be interested in going hardcore by adopting a native foodways diet, like the foods eaten in the Decolonizing Diet Project.

Appropriately, November is also Diabetes Awareness Month, which ties in with Native American Heritage Month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has linked the two and created the Native Diabetes Wellness Program, since “American Indian and Alaska Native adults are twice as likely to have diagnosed type 2 diabetes than non-Hispanic whites” (Diabetes Among American Indians and Alaska Natives, CDC). It’s more important to stop this high incidence of type 2 diabetes and obesity among Native peoples, starting with the patients themselves—especially since 27.4% of Indians lack health care coverage, according to the 2012 American Community Survey from the Census Bureau. One way to do that is to encourage eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.

Living a Balanced Life With Diabetes: A Toolkit Addressing Psychosocial Issues for American Indian and Alaska Native Populations (Kit) ISBN: 9780160913662A number of Indian health professionals, writers and activists have written and promoted healthy habits for Indians. For adult American Indians and Alaska Natives, the Indian Health Service has developed the multimedia kit Living a Balanced Life With Diabetes: A Toolkit Addressing Psychosocial Issues for American Indian and Alaska Native Populations.

Of course, the earlier you start to create change within a population, the better chance you have of changing a trend in that society. Nambé Pueblo health education specialist Georgia Perez wrote the first four books of the “Eagle Books” series for children with this intention. The series includes the titles 1) Through the Eyes of the Eagle, 2) Knees Lifted High, 3) Plate Full of Color, 4) Tricky Treats. and 5) the middle school book, Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream.

CDC-Eagle-Book-Series for children using American Indian stories to teach healthy eating and preventing diabetesThe first four titles are folio-sized (large format) full-color picture books for story time reading, with a target audience of Indian children in second and third grade. Lisa A. Fifield, a member of the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin (Black Bear Clan), and Patrick Rolo, a member of Bad River Band of Ojibwe, painted the lush watercolors that illustrate the first four books in the series. Perez and Lofton wrote the books from an Indian perspective with Indian characters, and Indians created the entire enterprise. With more than two million copies distributed to libraries, schools, Indian cultural centers, and more, according to the CDC, the program is a real success (The Story of Eagle Books, CDC).

All of the books are rooted in Indian cultural traditions, and advocate eating a healthy diet and exercising to avoid diabetes and maintain a healthy body. The CDC planned to continue the Eagle Books series with chapter books for middle school children, but unfortunately the agency was unable to continue the series after they published the first book, Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream, by Terry Lofton. The five volumes that CDC has published forward the message of harmony of the individual with nature, culture, and health. Ms. Perez makes particular points against type 2 diabetes.eagle-books-rain-that-dances-mr-eagle

The character of the Eagle talks with the Indian boy Thunder Cloud,

[Mr. Eagle] “Yesterday, I told Rain That Dances that many of your people are getting very sick from a disease called diabetes. Even some young people have diabetes now.”

[Thunder Cloud] “What is diabetes?”

[Mr. Eagle] “Diabetes is when your body does not use the food you eat the right way. So there is too much sugar, or glucose, in the blood. It can make people sick if it is not in balance. Just as your tummy is in balance when you eat the right amount of food — not too much, not too little, but just right — your body needs to have just the right balance of sugar in your blood. But someone who has diabetes can learn to take care of it and stay healthy. And you can do things to keep from getting this disease. One very good way is to do something every day to get your body moving” (Knees Lifted High, p. 2).

Balance is a key value among the cherished values of most Indian nations, and using this kind of language speaks to everyone, and most particularly to Indian children.

Although the author and illustrators dedicated the books to the idea of promoting Native American cultures and health, the messages provided in them can speak to any child. Eagle and Rabbit refer to “sometimes foods”, a phrase that will be familiar to any Cookie Monster fan that has been to Sesame Street. The art is so inviting that it will draw readers in to learn more and care about the characters, who are earnestly trying to improve their lives. You root for them to win. After reading these books, I was ready to trade in my frybread for a solid diet of cattail bread, wild rice salad and three sisters.

*For those unfamiliar with Indian culture, a powwow is a social gathering of Native Americans featuring dancing, drum music, singing, arts and crafts demonstrations and sales, and traditional tribal foods—and often, frybread and Indian tacos as well. Attendees include Indians and non-natives; the gatherings also provide an opportunity for elders to teach youth native tribal dances and other traditional practices.

How can I obtain these Native American and healthy eating publications?

1)    FOR THE PUBLIC

2)    FOR LIBRARIANS

Librarians can find the records for Tricky Treats, Knees Lifted High, Plate Full of Color, Through the Eyes of the Eagle and Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream in GPO’s Catalog of Government Publications or CGP.

About the author(s): Adapted 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).


Think you know pink? Increase your awareness of breast cancer

October 22, 2013

October-Breast-Cancer-Awareness-MonthOctober, the annual observance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is a time for reflection on the pervasiveness of the disease.

In the general US population, one in eight women will have breast cancer at some point in their lives and it is the most common cancer in American women.

1-in-8-get-Breast-Cancer

But breast cancer is not only confined to women. In 2009, 211,731 women and 2,001 men in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,676 women and 400 men died from it.

Even if you believe in and support the cause, you can still be unaware how widespread breast cancer is, and what you can do– beyond wearing pink– to inform yourself and others to reduce your risks and those of your loved ones.

Breast-Cancer-Knowing-Is-Not-Enough

Federal Government Breast Cancer Research and Awareness

The Federal government is doing a great deal to increase public awareness and disease eradication: everything from lighting the façade of the White House with pink floodlights during the month’s observance to spending $602.7 million on research at the National Cancer Institute in 2012 and funding a number of stellar breast cancer publications from the Department of Health & Human Services for both consumers and health care professionals. Learning more can help you do your part to be more aware and give yourself and your family and friends a better chance at being healthy.

white-house-breast-cancer-monthImage above: The North Portico exterior of the White House is illuminated pink, Oct. 3, 2011, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Source: Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

The Healthy Woman: A Complete Guide for All Ages (ePub eBook)Many circumstances affect one’s chances for getting breast cancer. Some factors can be controlled; others cannot. In The Healthy Woman: A Complete Guide for All Ages (ePub eBook), we learn that the controllable risk factors include environment (exposure to second-hand smoke, chemicals, radon, etc.) and personal history (diet, UV exposure, use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs or some medications such as hormones, etc.), while family history (genetics) and the age at which a woman enters menopause are factors beyond a woman’s control.

Effects of Ethnic and Cultural Differences

Breast Cancer: Black Women Have Higher Death Rates From Breast Cancer Than Other Women  from Vital Signs 2011Statistical evidence shows that not all women, especially women of color, do enough, or can get enough care, to protect themselves from breast cancer. Reading Breast Cancer: Black Women Have Higher Death Rates From Breast Cancer Than Other Women can make a reader upset and more determined to do his or her best to prevent breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer among Hispanic women, and the second most common cause of death from cancer among women from all other races.

According to this recent statistical report, black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women, compared to women of other races/  ethnicities. New changes enacted since the report was issued late last year, such as implementation of open season starting under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) [Learn more about the ACA in our Government Book Talk post “Everything You Should Know About The Health Care Law], may improve the statistic, since the ACA will provide 30 million previously uninsured Americans with health care if they go get it. These changes might reduce the risk to women’s death rates from breast cancer in the future as health care becomes more available to all.

Preventing Breast Cancer

breast_cancer_infographicFor a woman to give herself the best possible chance of avoiding breast cancer, self-care is critical. According to the CDC’s infographic Protect Yourself from Breast Cancer, women can take steps to help reduce their risk for breast cancer by remembering to:

  • get at least four hours of exercise per week,
  • keep a healthy weight,
  • limit alcoholic drinks to one per day,
  • breastfeed their infants,
  • bear their children before age 35,
  • get regular mammograms,
  • perform monthly self-exams,
  • and/or make careful decisions about taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

In addition to having access to health care, women can improve their chances of avoiding and/or surviving breast cancer by improving their self-care, as mentioned. For more tips on getting this care, and getting the insurance and treatment to help with the care, women and their families can consult a wide variety of Federal government publications, including

Breast Cancer Screening Options

 The Guide to Clinical Preventive Services 2012: Recommendations of the U.S. Prev The Guide to Clinical Preventive Services 2012: Recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task ForceThe Guide to Clinical Preventive Services 2012 provides the latest recommendations for who should get a mammogram based on various risk factors including ethnic background and family history of breast cancer, when and how to do it and at what age. It also goes into the pros and cons of various alternative forms of breast cancer screening from the most reliable film mammography to digital mammography, MRIs, Clinical breast examination and breast self-examination.

Understanding Breast Changes: a Health Guide for WomenUnderstanding Breast Changes covers a discussion of the normal breast changes over the course of a woman’s lifetime, how to get a mammogram and understand the results, how to get the support you need, a glossary and a list of resources for more research. The Healthy Woman offers more general information on getting the right kind of health care for women. The writers recognize symptoms relating to particular diseases impacting a woman’s health, and they discuss various available treatment options for those diseases.

Breast Cancer Treatment Options

Surgery Choices for Women with DCIS or Breast CancerWhen women do find that they need treatment, particularly surgery, for breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), they need to know as much about their proposed procedure as possible. An informed patient can much better participate in her own recovery, and give needed information to her surgeon, as well as provide herself with the knowledge of what is normal and what symptoms require follow-up. Surgery Choices for Women with DCIS or Breast Cancer covers those topics, and is a good starting point for a woman facing surgery for either of those conditions, when she is also consulting her care provider, surgeon, friends and family.

These highlights from these informative books may have made you realize that it’s time for you to improve your own self-care, or urge the women in your life to improve theirs. If that is so, then the best place to start is with the some public health research. You can find out more by reading the publications listed below.

FOR THE PUBLIC:

How can I obtain these breast cancer publications?

1)    The Healthy Woman: a Complete Guide for All Ages [eBook] and The Guide to Clinical Preventive Services 2012: Recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these two 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 collection under our Cancer 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 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.

2)     Protect Yourself from Breast Cancer [infographic], Breast Cancer: Black Women Have Higher Death Rates From Breast Cancer Than Other Women, Understanding Breast Changes: a Health Guide for Women, and Surgery Choices for Women with DCIS or Breast Cancer.

FOR LIBRARIANS: There are records available for the electronic versions of all these works in the Catalog of Government Publications, and you can buy your own copy of  The Healthy Woman: a Complete Guide for All Ages [eBook and The Guide to Clinical Preventive Services 2012: Recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in the GPO Online Bookstore.

About the author(s): Adapted by Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and 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).


Native Traditions Help Kids Unplug, Read and Be Healthy

March 1, 2013

Kids Take NEA Reader's Oath on National Read Across America DayToday, March 1, 2013, is the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day which kicks off Read Across America Week where people are encouraged to read to children and children are encouraged to read for themselves. And tomorrow is the birthday of Dr Seuss, who is known for writing children’s books. Coincidentally, from sunset tonight March 1 to sunset March 2 has also been declared National Day of Unplugging, when we are urged to unplug ourselves from all our gadgets and technology such as smartphones, laptops, and MP3 players.

Image: School children take NEA’s Read Across America Reader’s Oath. Source: NEA

Thus, it’s a perfect time to read to and with your kids. Reading events, both public and private, are being held nationwide, from schools and public libraries to houses of worship and homes as adults and children unplug and read.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Native Diabetes Wellness Program (Wellness Program), in collaboration with the Indian Health Service (IHS) Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention and the Tribal Leaders Diabetes Committee (TLDC), created the perfect series of children’s books to help encourage kids to read and live a healthy lifestyle.

CDC-Eagle-Book-Series for child diabetes prevention nutrition and physical fitnessCalled the Eagle Book Series. all of the stories reflect long-held traditional values of American Indian / Alaska Native people – respect, gratitude, and generosity – while teaching the universal wisdom of healthy eating and physical activity. Throughout the series, a young Native boy and his friends learn about healthy habits from Mr. Eagle, Miss Rabbit, and Coyote.

Vividly brought to life by the colorful illustrations of talented American Indian artists Patrick Rolo (Bad River Band of Ojibwe, Wisconsin) and Lisa A. Fifield (Black Bear Clan of the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin), these charming and educational stories by Georgia Perez have become the award-winning Eagle Book series:

  1. Through the Eyes of the Eagle,
  2. Knees Lifted High,
  3. Plate Full of Color, and
  4. Tricky Treats.

Measuring 16 X 19 inches, these books are sized perfectly for reading to a group of first through third grade children at school, daycare, in a library, or at home.

Thru-Eyes-of-the-EagleThrough the Eyes of the Eagle

“Through the Eyes of the Eagle” is the first book in the Eagle Book Series and introduces the character of Mr. Eagle. Mr. Eagle befriends Rain That Dances, the primary child character in the book, to educate him about diabetes and how the lifestyles and health of the people have changed. Mr. Eagle has come to remind the children of the healthy ways of their ancestors so that they can be strong and healthy again.

Knees-Lifted-HighKnees Lifted High

“Knees Lifted High,” the second book in the Eagle Book Series, continues the story with Mr. Eagle and Rain That Dances, and introduces a new character, Thunder Cloud, Rain That Dances’ best friend. Mr. Eagle shares the knowledge that lack of movement (inadequate physical activity) contributes to development of type 2 diabetes. He encourages the boys to find ways of being active just as their ancestors were. He elicits ideas from the boys on ways to get their bodies up and moving

Plate-Full-of-colorPlate Full of Color

“Plate Full of Color,” the third book in the Eagle Book Series, introduces Miss Rabbit and the boys’ friend, Little Hummingbird. Miss Rabbit s a helper. She wants to teach the young children about ways they can prevent diabetes and help adults learn about preventing and controlling the disease. Rain That Dances, Thunder Cloud and Little Hummingbird listen to Miss Rabbit explain how Mother Earth provides wonderfully healthy things to eat.

Tricky-TreatsTricky Treats

“Tricky Treats,” the fourth book in the Eagle Book Series, continues the theme of healthy food by encouraging children to choose nutritional value in foods and beverages. This story introduces the character of Coyote who initially challenges the healthy messages offered by Mr. Eagle.

Tricksters, such as the coyote, are traditional characters in American Indian stories and literature who cannot be trusted because of their jokes and tricks. The trickster often comes around in the end as in this story. In the book, Mr. Eagle encourages the children to choose healthy snacks and not be tricked into using foods and beverages that are not healthy for them. Healthy foods are identified as “everyday foods,” while less optimal choices are described as “sometimes foods.” Mr. Eagle teaches the children about food safety and the importance of not taking things that belong to someone else.

NEA has a Read Across America Reader’s Oath by Debra Angstead, Missouri-NEA, a Read Across America song and this wonderful Dr. Seuss-inspired Read Across America poem that says it better than we can:

You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild,
To pick up a book and read with a child.
You’re never too busy, too cool, or too hot,
To pick up a book and share what you’ve got.

In schools and communities,
Let’s gather around,
Let’s pick up a book,
Let’s pass it around.

There are kids all around you,
Kids who will need
Someone to hug,
Someone to read.

Come join us March 1st
Your own special way
And make this America’s
Read to Kids Day.

How can I buy the Eagle Book Series?

About the Author:  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.


America Loves Quitters: Preventing Teen Tobacco Use

November 15, 2012

In an election month, young people across America learned a lot about making choices, and today they get the chance to make the choice to not use tobacco.

Today, November 15, 2012, marks the 37th Great American Smokeout, a day promoted by the American Cancer Society every third Thursday of November to encourage smokers to make a plan to quit smoking, or finally quit smoking altogether on that day. Research shows that quitting — even for one day — smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.

Image: Campaign banner for the Great American Smokeout 2012 by the American Cancer Society. 

Thus it was fortuitous that a copy of the three-volume set entitled “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General came across my desk this week.  Published by the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, this combines all the latest research and best thinking about how to combat tobacco use in children and teens. The three volumes in the set include:

1)      The full report from the Surgeon General with the detailed research: “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General”

2)      An “Executive Summary” of the report with the key evidence and conclusions

3)      A booklet of “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: We Can Make the Next Generation Tobacco Free”.

This easy-to-read booklet aimed to parents, schools and community public health practitioners contains highlights from the 2012 Surgeon General’s report on tobacco use among youth and teens ages 12 through 17 and young adults ages 18 through 25. The first four pages are an overview of youth and young adult tobacco use, and the sections that follow provide details on health effects, factors that encourage young people to use tobacco, the role of the tobacco industry, and what we can do to solve the problem.

Here’s the Report. General

Reading through the full Surgeon General Report, I found it contains the following chapters:

  • Chapter 1. Introduction, Summary, and Conclusions

 This chapter gives an overview and summary of the report’s findings and conclusions. One startling fact: the high percentage of cigarette smokers starting even in middle school!

  • Chapter 2. The Health Consequences of Tobacco Use Among Young People

Starting tobacco use young—cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco—has significant and sometimes unique health consequences outlined in this chapter.

  • Chapter 3. The Epidemiology of Tobacco Use Among Young People in the United States and Worldwide

In this chapter, the various surveys and methods used for gathering data for this landmark report were discussed.

  • Chapter 3 Appendices

Terrific for researchers, reporters and health professionals, the appendices provide the detailed data and tables that are such an important part of the study. For example one table showed the results of responses to use of multiple types of tobacco products expanding beyond just  cigarettes to increasing use of chewing tobacco, snuff, cigars, cigarillos or little cigars.

  • Chapter 4. Social, Environmental, Cognitive, and Genetic Influences on the Use of Tobacco Among Youth

In this chapter, the researchers explore the factors that influence tobacco use among youth—and why they have such devastating long-term effects.

  • Chapter 5. The Tobacco Industry’s Influences on the Use of Tobacco Among Youth

Twelve years after the Federal Government’s Master Settlement Agreement against the tobacco industry, it is exerting as much influence as ever, with sophisticated marketing efforts aimed at increasing tobacco use. This chapter also outlines the ineffectiveness of the anti-tobacco programs the tobacco industry was required to do as part of the Agreement.

  • Chapter 6. Efforts to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use Among Young People

This important chapter reviews the efforts to date to prevent tobacco use and what’s working and not.

Here is an example of the CDC’s current anti-tobacco campaign:

Smoking harms health from the very first puff. Learn more.

  • Chapter 7. A Vision for Ending the Tobacco Epidemic

Finally, it concludes with a vision from the research team on how communities, schools, parents and the public health programs can help end tobacco use.

Teen Tobacco Facts

 Some of the more startling—and disturbing—findings and conclusions:

  • In 2008, tobacco companies spent 48% more on cigarette marketing (totaling $9.94 billion) and 277% more on smokeless tobacco advertising (totaling $547 million) than in 1998, the year of the Federal Government’s Master Settlement Agreement against the tobacco industry.
  • For every person who dies due to smoking—more than 1,200 each day—at least two youth or young adults become regular smokers.
  • Among adults who become daily smokers, nearly all first use of cigarettes occurs by 18 years of age (88%), with 99% of first use by 26 years of age.
  • Almost one in four high school seniors is a current (in the past 30 days) cigarette smoker, compared with one in three young adults and one in five adults.
  • Among those who use tobacco, nearly one-third of high school females and more than one-half of high school males report using more than one tobacco product in the last 30 days.
  • Key influences include peer pressure, genetic predisposition toward addiction; family socioeconomic factors and educational attainment; sophisticated package and advertising design aimed toward kids, and depictions in popular media, particularly movies.
  • Smoking won’t help you lose weight, contrary to young people’s beliefs.
  • Adolescent smoking contributes to earlier onset of health problems, from asthma to cancer to heart and lung disease.

Additional Information

CDC: Finally, for more information and additional resources on preventing tobacco use among young people, go to www.cdc.gov/tobacco. If you smoke and want to quit smoking, cal l 1-800-QUIT NOW (784-8669).

American Cancer Society: Stay Away from Tobacco resources.

HOW DO I OBTAIN “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General?

  • Buy a print copy online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.

Find this and other books about Alcoholism, Smoking & Substance Abuse on our new online bookstore.

Another recommended book is How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease, A Report of the Surgeon General, which “explains beyond a shadow of a doubt how tobacco smoke causes disease, validates earlier findings, and expands and strengthens the science base. Describes in detail the ways tobacco smoke damages every organ in the body and causes disease and death. Substantiates the evidence that there is no safe level of exposure to cigarette smoke.

About the Author:  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.


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:


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