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Top 10: The Best of Government Documents of the Past 50 Years

May 26 marks the golden anniversary of Roesch Library’s membership in the Federal Depository Library Program.

The government documents collection — “govdocs” in library parlance — is one of the most extensive and dynamic collections in the University Libraries. Every month, the Government Publishing Office ships a wide array of print and electronic resources produced by the U.S. government, making this particular collection valuable as a historical and contemporary resource.  

In recognition of the 50th anniversary, Roesch Library presents this top-10 list of govdocs of the past 50 years, compiled by the three people at the University Libraries with the most current knowledge of the collection:

  • Scott West, information resources specialist
  • Heidi Gauder, coordinator of research and instruction and current govdocs librarian
  • Kathy Webb, dean of the University Libraries and former govdocs librarian

Spoiler alert: The list is heavy on historic scandals. A certain individual, known in recent congressional hearings as “Individual No. 1,” did not make this list. West predicts that the Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election (popularly known as the Mueller report) could push one of these documents off the list once it’s added to the library catalog; the Government Publishing Office is set to publish the redacted version in print on April 30, but those who want it sooner can get the electronic version online free through the GPO.

The top 10, in no particular order

  1. Twenty Years after Brown: A Report of the United States Commission on Civil Rights
    Washington: Commission on Civil Rights, 1977
  2. The Condition of Education
    Washington, D.C.: Annual publication of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement
    Online resource
  3. Report on the Events at Waco, Texas, February 28 to April 19, 1993
    U.S. Department of Justice; redacted version
  4. Statistical Abstract of the United States
    U.S. Census Bureau; final edition published in 2012
    Electronic resource
  5. A Performance Review of FEMA's Disaster Management Activities in Response to Hurricane Katrina
    Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General
    Print and online
  6. Report to the President by the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident
  7. The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States
    Online resource
  8. Secrets in the Sand: Archaeology at Fort Raleigh, 1990-2010, Manteo, North Carolina
    Archaeological resource study
  9. Final report: Watergate Special Prosecution Force
  10. Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters (3 volumes)
    Lawrence E. Walsh, independent counsel
    Print; available in Roesch general collection as well as govdocs
  11. (Because we can … and because possibly no one will notice … and because, well ... how can we possibly limit this list to 10?) Department of State Background Notes
    Note: These are no longer produced under this title, but in the heyday of print, they were useful for up-to-date country information. An archived copy for Cuba serves to illustrate. The current version in the catalog points to the documents under their new identity: U.S. Bilateral Relations Fact Sheets.
    Electronic resource

Come celebrate

Several of these selections will featured in a Parks and Roesch finals week cookie break celebrating the 50th FDLP anniversary. Stop by Room 215 at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, May 9. Note: This event and its materials are officially not approved by Ron Swanson.

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