Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government

Ben’s Guide is a scholastic website hosted by the Government Publishing Office (GPO), designed to inform and educate students, parents and teachers about the federal government. The site includes learning activities about Ben Franklin, his life and legacy and information on the government and how it functions. As the first public librarian of the U.S., as well as a printer, Ben Franklin was the natural choice as “guide.” Ben’s Guide utilizes historic documents and resources found within GPO to create this interactive instructional tool.

Enjoy as Ben leads on various learning adventures! Through the completion of games and activities, one will have a better understanding of how our country was founded, how laws are made, the difference between federal and state government and so much more. The learning activities are broken down into age groups: Apprentice (ages 4-8), Journey Person (ages 9-13) and Master (ages 14+). Ben’s Guide features three games: Play the States, Printable Activities (crosswords and word searches) and Branch-O-Mania. The site also includes a glossary to help children understand government terms and teaching activities for educators.

Ben’s Guide was recognized by the American Library Association as a Great Website for Kids. The resource is wonderful for educators wanting to teach children about our country’s founding and how our government functions. The website is another example of how GPO is raising awareness on how the government works for you. Users can make any comments or suggestions relating to Ben’s Guide here. Please take a moment to explore this fun and educational site.

This blog post was written by Indiana State Library Federal Documents Coordinator Brent Abercrombie. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

What’s in a name? Government Publishing Office officially recognizes Hoosiers as Hoosiers

In this state we take our names seriously! We are Hoosiers; not Indianians; not even Indianans. We are Hoosiers and, finally, the Government Publishing Office (GPO) agrees with us! The newest edition of the GPO Style Manual will no longer refer to citizens of Indiana by the name Indianians, but now as Hoosiers. The Style Manual (similar to style manuals you find in English class for help with citations) is a standardization template designed to create uniformity of a word or phrase. One such example is the designation of native residents of states. GPO, by act of Congress, has published a style manual since 1894, and states that its rules are based on principles of good usage and custom in the printing trade.

They explain,”Writing is hard enough without having to make gut-wrenching decisions about punctuation and spelling every few seconds and the Style Manual is designed to make all government writing consistent. The manual is the authority on questions of language and spelling that are not black and white, but grey. Unfortunately, GPO long ago decided in designating the names of a Hoosier that they should be referred to as an Indianian.”

To the rescue

Senator Joe Donnelly and former Senator Dan Coats entreated GPO to make the change. They argued Indiana residents have proudly called themselves Hoosiers for more than 180 years and writing in a letter last year stated, “we find it a little jarring to be referred to (Indianian) in this way.”

Their timing was perfect, as GPO was working on the 31st edition of the Style Manual. The federal government relented and on page 95 of the updated U.S. Government Publishing Office’s Style Manual we Hoosiers are finally, officially Hoosiers.

This blog post is by Reference and Government Services Division. For more information, contact us at (317) 232-3678 or send us a question through Ask-a-Librarian.

Do you know who I am?: A look at political biographies

When people think of political biographies they generally think of ones for people like the presidents, and presidential candidates and we definitely have plenty of these types of materials. Including Turning Point: a Candidate, a State, and a Nation Come of Age by former President Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton as They Know Him: an Oral Biography by David Gallen, and Crashing the Party: How to tell the Truth and Still Run for President by presidential candidate Ralph Nader. We also have the VHS tapes of a series called The Presidents by the American Experience, for those of us who still have those archaic mechanical devices.

There is more to political biographies and even politics itself than just the main cast of characters. The variety of people and their participation in politics is as wide and varied as the complex political system itself. For example there is August Belmont who was the party chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the 1850’s, August Belmont: a Political Biography by Irving Katz; Helen Bamber who has been a central force in Amnesty International, Helen Bamber: a Life Against Cruelty by Neil Belton; Gerda Lerner who is a grass roots political activist who has campaigned for among other things an interracial civil rights movement, Fireweed: a Political Autobiography by Gerda Lerner; and Simas Kudirka who is one of the many who have sought political asylum in the United States, For Those Still at Sea by Simas Kudirka and Larry Eichel.

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So, do you know who they are? Come learn more about them and others from the world of politics, their stories may give you more of an insight into the depths and variety of the people who work so hard for all of us.

This blog post was written by Daina Bohr, Reference and Government Services Librarian. For more information Ask-A-Librarian at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.

Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) explained

There is a strong chance you have never heard of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). The program was established by Congress to ensure the public has access to government information. How can the public get access to government information? Google? Social media? Yes, you can obtain a great deal of information online, including the Federal Digital System (FDsys), but the federal government has been publishing content since the 18th century. Not everything is online (what???). The answer to the question is through federal depository libraries.

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The Debt Tsunami is coming!

It’s only October and already there are signs of the upcoming holidays showing up in the stores. Yes, that’s right the holidays are coming. The lights, the ornaments, the PRESENTS! It’s starting out as a trickle, but soon it will be coming at us as one big glittery shining tsunami of mass consumerism that sweeps so many of us up in an incredible euphoria of shopping. Family members come to us with lists in their hands and looks of happy anticipation on their faces and we go out and buy those items, because we don’t want to disappoint them. And all the while our credit cards are so often already being haunted by the ghosts of holidays past. We are in debt up to our eyeballs and this has become so …. Normal. Continue reading

Not just your elementary school Encyclopedia

When you think Encyclopedia most of us immediately envision the 24 volume sets in our elementary school library with articles on everything from Aak (Korean Court Music) to Zoroastrianism (Ancient Iran religion) but encyclopedias can also be on a single subject. The Indiana State Library has several hundred topical encyclopedias.

The earliest encyclopedic work known is the Naturalis Historia written around 77 AD, it covered 37 subjects like natural history, medicine, and architecture. The library has a 1938 translation of this work. The State Library’s oldest encyclopedia is Navigantium atque itinerantium bibliotheca, Or, A complete collection of voyages and travels: consisting of above six hundred of the most authentic writers. This second edition published in London between 1744 and 1748 is a compilation of articles about early sea voyages.

If reading about sea voyages aren’t your passion, then what about the arts? We have encyclopedias on everything from opera to rock, and from film noir to graphic art and comic book heroes. If you are more of an sports fan, then the Indiana University Basketball Encyclopedia or The Notre Dame Football Encyclopedia might be for you.

For those interested in health and well-being we have a large selection of topics; aging, adolescence, stress, disability and rehabilitation or The Encyclopedia of Nutrition and Good Health. If you need information about science, we have encyclopedias on anthropology, astronomy, oceanography, space travel and more.

We even have some of the more quirky titles; Lyons’ Encyclopedia of Valves, Durations: the Encyclopedia of How Long Things Take, Encyclopedia of Knots and Fancy Rope Work and we even have encyclopedias for librarians on buying encyclopedias like Purchasing an Encyclopedia: 12 Points to Consider.

Whatever your pastime or pursuit the Indiana State Library probably has an encyclopedia filled with information on the subject.

This blog post was written by Marcia Caudell, Reference and Government Services Librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.