Locating government information

The Indiana State Library provides services and expertise on a variety of subjects to Hoosiers across the state. One subject ISL can help patrons with is locating federal information. The State Library participates in the Federal Depository Library Program, which is a government program created to make U.S. federal government publications publicly available at no cost. There are 33 libraries in the state that participate in this program. ISL serves as the Regional Depository Library for Indiana.

FDLP libraries provide access to official federal government information, but also employ a library staff member with an expertise on the subject to aid research. At ISL, the position is part of the Reference & Government Services Division. The federal depository coordinator – or librarian – can assist researchers in historical research, politics, law or genealogy, but that only represents a fraction of the information that is publicly available. The U.S. government offers a wealth of information that is easily searchable online. It can be challenging to locate specific information. For current information, it is likely to be found by searching two resources: govinfo.gov and usa.gov.

Govinfo.gov is the one-stop site for authentic information published by the government. For those looking for a particular law, report, Congressional Committee material or any official publications from the three branches of government, govinfo.gov is the resource to use. The website allows users to search for specific legislation – like the recent Heroes Act – or browse for information by searching through collections, author, committees or date. GovInfo provides individuals access to official published government documents.

USA.gov is the official web portal of the United States government, and essentially serves as an information hub that connects individuals to information relating to the services offered by the federal government. Individuals can search every U.S. government website through usa.gov or learn about popular government programs and services. They are all organized by topic. USA.gov can help researchers contact members of Congress, check on your stimulus check, get COVID-19 resources, find government jobs and so much more.

With the breadth of information provided by our government, the federal documents coordinator can help researchers navigate the information overload. ISL staff can help researchers identify valuable government resources and help patrons on how to search a particular resource. Researchers can call, email, visit, chat or submit a LibAnswer question for assistance. Staff members have put together subject guides and presented webinars to help improve literacy of government information. As a FDLP library, the Indiana State Library is committed to ensuring Hoosiers can access government information and help navigate the wide range of government information available.

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 via “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Collaborative Summer Library Program annual meeting report

By now, you may be aware that the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) is an organization that works together to develop a theme, slogan, artwork, manual, program ideas and incentives for public libraries nationwide with the goal of making it easier for those libraries to execute a top notch summer reading program, thus combating “summer slide” and bringing communities together.

But who is making all of those decisions? Each year, a group of representatives from all 50 states, plus several U.S. territories, gathers to discuss and vote on themes, slogans and general initiatives for the future of CSLP. The representatives are volunteers – a mixture of public librarians and youth services consultants at state libraries, like me. In April, I had the privilege of representing Indiana at the CSLP annual meeting in Denver, Colorado.

The 2018 meeting was an exciting one. The CSLP board of directors rolled out their strategic plan, which includes taking more control of the program’s artwork, manual development and printing services, among other aspects. Ultimately, this will result in more flexibility in what the organization can offer to libraries, and should result in better quality products.This plan will take several years to roll out and may not be immediately evident, but by the program year 2020 we hope to have made significant improvements.

The meeting this year also saw the announcement of some excellent allies and resources for summer 2019. Most notable was Starnet, who shared information about their STEM Activity Clearinghouse. This database is full of STEM activities and resources for libraries, including full program activity descriptions. Though summer 2018 has barely begun, next year’s space theme, “A Universe of Stories,” looks to be bursting with promise!

Upcoming CSLP themes:
2019: A Universe of Stories; space
2020: Imagine Your Story; fairy tales, mythology and fantasty
2021: Tails and Tales; animals
2022: All Together Now; unifying communities

In personal news, I’m pleased to announce that I was elected to be a member of the Collaborative Summer Library board of directors as a member-at-large. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to bring the voice of Hoosiers to the CSLP membership as we tackle the changing landscape of summer reading. I welcome your constructive suggestions for the program, and hope to see many of you when I roll out my 2019 CSLP trainings around the state this winter!

This blog post was written by Beth Yates, children’s consultant for the Indiana State Library.