Edward Herman and Theodora Belniak, authors of Locating U.S. Government Information Handbook (3rd ed.), are librarians and teachers at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Ed taught thousands of students, faculty, and community members how to access printed, electronic, and audio-visual formats of government information during his thirty-seven years at the University, in both classes and one-on-one meetings. He retired in July 2014. Theo, a law librarian and Head of Collection Management at the Charles B. Sears Law Library, does the same through her reference encounters, appointments, and classes on legal research and writing.
The goal of the third edition is to facilitate access to government information among the general public. The book covers government information published by the federal government, as well as relevant non-government sources, such as universities and public interest groups. Emphasis is upon electronic materials available without charge on home computers and those available from depository libraries. Separate chapters guide people through the research process by explaining how to evaluate information and differentiating different types of government information in print, electronic, and audio-visual formats. Specifics cover:
- Locating government information in general search engines.
- Finding current government information in specialized document indexes and databases, such as USA.gov, FDsys, the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), and data.gov.
- Retrieving documentation from historical resources.
- Locating and interpreting government statistics.
- Meeting information needs in the social sciences, law, history, science and technology, and cartographic resources.
Appendices describe the decoding of numbers and citations, explain the Freedom of Information Act, and suggest additional materials that describe government information.
Access to government information is a key tenant of American democracy. The National Plan for Access to U.S. Government Information: A Framework for a User-centric Service Approach to Permanent Public Access (U.S. Government Publishing Office, 2016) maintains that “public access to government information” is a basic right. This sentiment is expressed throughout American history. Colonial statesman Patrick Henry argued that “The liberties of people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.” Thomas Jefferson believed that “Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.” More recently, President Kennedy maintained that Americans are “inherently and historically opposed … to secret proceedings.” Ed and Theo hope that the Locating U.S. Government Information Handbook contributes to these efforts by showing how to locate and use government information.
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Published: Buffalo; William S. Hein & Co., Inc.; 2015
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