Disappearing government publications update

This is just a short post to update readers on the activities surrounding the disappearance of several government publications, including the Census publications Statistical Abstract, State and Metropolitan Area Data Book, County and City Data Book, USA Counties, and Quick Facts, that I mentioned in my post on March 22, 2011.

Alesia McManus, Director of the Library at Howard Community College and Director at Large for ALA’s Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), has been quite busy and has created two new resources of which readers should be aware:

  1. Save the US Statistical Abstract! Facebook Group – 627 members as of this morning
  2. Save the Statistical Abstract of the United States petition to President Obama and the U.S. Congress on change.org

In addition to Alesia McManus’s extraordinary efforts, on March 19, 2011, Jeff Fox, business page editor of The Examiner from Independence Missouri, published an opinion article called “Keep the Important Info Nearby.”  While I do not approve of his statements that it is not worth fighting the demise of the Statistical Abstract to much, I do think that he summed up the issue of all of the disappearing print government documents perfectly:

Reliance on the Internet assumes the power won’t go off and the Net won’t go down. It assumes no government here would ever do what the government in Egypt did – try to just pull the plug – when the heat’s on.

It assumes that the people who put up information – even dry statistics on home ownership, voting patterns or favorite flavors of ice cream – won’t suddenly remove, hide or fudge that information when controversy comes. If you’re waiting until a crisis arises to get basic information, you’re letting someone else control the debate.

Facts are facts, but in a culture in which just about anything can be politicized and questioned, sound sources still matter. Buy a book, and it’s yours. No one will break into your house in the middle of the night and re-edit it to suit someone’s political agenda.

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One Response to Disappearing government publications update

  1. Deborah Darin says:

    Glad to see the petition and FB page about the U.S. Statistical Abstract. I urge librarians and others to also write to their Congresspeople individually.
    I hope we can resist the “pound foolish” demise of the Abstract,and I bet you do, too. The beauty of the Abstract, online or in print, is that it gathers a lot of related information in one place, that a researcher might not originally have thought to examine. It is suggestive, and also acts like a gateway to other sources. Being able to Google things separately that you might think are important is not the same as seeing this collection of interrelated data handily all in one place. The Abstract acts in some ways like an index, not just providing answers, but also provoking more study.

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