Overlooked and alone…

24 Jan

What would you say if I told you there are many resources out there, completely free, that will help you do a lot of reference?  Especially if you’re in a high school, career college, or university?  I hope you’re excited, because this is really cool.

Ready?  Government documents, at USA.gov.

I know, you’re not a government documents librarian.  I know your patrons aren’t researching the government.  But government documents cover so many topics that it’s possible to find some good information on almost anything.  Next time someone wants information on vaccines, try seeing what you get from USA.gov.

A lot of people labor under the misconception that government documents pertain mostly/only to the legal field; this is not true.  Of course, there are publications covering that, but any agency that is part of the government should be indexed there, as far as publications go.  That means the CDC for medical questions, the Dept. of Education, the CIA and FBI, the Dept. of Agriculture.

If you can’t think of a way this would benefit your reference service, then you aren’t thinking hard enough.  After being skeptical and trying it to prove to myself it wouldn’t be useful, I’m convinced otherwise.  It’s not always useful, for every reference question, but reference never a one-size-fits-all.  I think a lot of us get scared off by government documents because we love our databases, and government docs require cataloging in a certain way that we just don’t want to deal with.

But USA.gov?  Totally usable, totally free, and you should use it.

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One Response to “Overlooked and alone…”

  1. Liz P. January 24, 2012 at 16:51 #

    I would also suggest that if you want to know more about government documents to contact your local depository! It’s part of our job (us being depository coordinators) to help EVERYONE including other libraries!

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