The 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?
Image: 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.
Career 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:
- 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.
- 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. 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.
A 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.
NASA 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
The 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.
Women 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).
Finally, 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.