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Government information

(NOTE: this was first posted on Free Government Information blog as "What makes a "fugitive document" a fugitive?").

First off, I'd like to thank GPO (now the Government Publishing Office!) for posting about this Historic Fugitive Document Available through the CGP. I'd like to give a little context and parse out what makes a fugitive document -- a document that is within scope of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) but for whatever reason is not distributed by GPO to depository libraries -- a fugitive?

Fugitives are a rapidly growing problem as, according to GPO, 97% of all US documents are now born-digital, and most federal agencies are now publishing born-digital documents on their own .gov sites, thus cutting GPO out of the publishing process -- and eroding the national bibliography that is the Catalog of Government Publications (CGP) (BTW, my colleague Jim Jacobs (yes there are two of us!) and I will be giving a "Help! I'm an Accidental Government Information Librarian" webinar on fugitives next month so stay tuned for the announcement!).

In the case of the 1991 "Report on Semiconductors, Fiber Optics, Superconducting Materials, and Advanced Manufacturing”, an emeritus professor gifted this document to my colleague Stella Ota, our physics and astronomy bibliographer, who passed it along to me. I thought for sure we’d have this stand-alone or in the [United States Congressional Serial Set], the long-standing official collection of Congressional reports and documents near and dear to many govt information librarians' hearts -- and if you're particularly nerdy, there's a great book recently published about the Serial Set by Andrea Sevetson and Mary Lou Cumberpatch!

But the more I looked, the less I found. It was announced as transmitted to Congress in the Congressional Record (137 Cong Rec S 4449) and in the Public Papers of the President. But it didn’t show up in the Serial Set or in my wider net of the CGP, FDsys, or Monthly Catalog (another gem, the precursor to the CGP published since 1895). It shows up as a stub in Google Books, but nothing in Hathitrust. No libraries are listed in the WorldCat record. It simply hadn't been published, though it was announced that it had. (pro tip: don't always believe the Congressional Record when they say something has been published, check all the sources to make sure!).

I don't know how this Stanford emeritus professor came to have the document in his possession, but it had clearly fallen through the FDLP cracks. Thanks to Astrid Smith, one of our fine staff that work in the Stanford Library digitization lab in Digital Library Systems and Services (DLSS), it was quickly and expertly digitized, OCR'd, and stored in our Stanford Digital Repository, and also made physically available in the library.

So there you have it, a day in the life of 1 fugitive US publication.

Historic Fugitive Document Available through the CGP Details Last Updated: December 18 2014 Published: December 18 2014 The 1991 report prepared by the Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, “Report of the President to the Congress on Federal Policies, Budgets, and Technical Activities in Semiconductors, Fiber Optics, Superconducting Materials & Advanced Manufacturing,” is now available through GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

OCLC Number: 898189404
CGP System Number: 000938821
SuDoc Class: C 1.202:SE 5
Item Number: 0129-B (EL)

GPO thanks James Jacobs and the staff at Stanford University for collaborating with GPO to provide the public with access to this historic fugitive document.

IMF Logo
Just in time for the holidays:
Online access to the IMF's eLibrary!

Yesterday the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its "Study of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program - Foreword, Findings, and Conclusions, and Executive Summary." (BIG PDF!) The report is 525 pages, heavily redacted, and includes graphic details about the torture techniques used by the CIA. The study found that American torture was not confined to a handful of aberrational cases or techniques, nor was it the work of rogue CIA agents. It was an officially sanctioned, worldwide (over 1/4 of the world's countries participated in some way!) regime of torture that had the acquiescence, if not explicit approval, of the top members of both political parties in Congress.

Image for International Historical Statistics

Faculty, students, and staff now have online access to the three volume set titled: International Historical Statistics

Flag of the United Nations

October 24 is United Nations Day.

Visit the exhibit: Faces of the World's Refugees on display at the Green Library Lobby

This looks to be a highly interesting conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis this September 29-30, 2014 for anyone interested in historic economic data. Keynote speakers include Hal Varian, Chief Economist at Google, and Neil Fantom, World Bank manager who leads their Open Data Initiative. St Louis Fed is doing such great work in providing access to historic economic dataso this is a great opportunity to discuss, learn, plan, and strategize for how libraries and the Fed can work collaboratively in this arena. Hope to see lots of our readers in St Louis!


The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is hosting a free conference to address the challenges of economic information. We are bringing together experts to share their experiences at the frontier of economic data and information, discuss problems and potential solutions, and identify ways to improve access to and understanding of economic information.Our aim is to provide librarians and other information professionals with the knowledge, competence, and enthusiasm to disseminate economic information expertise to their respective audiences.

via Beyond the Numbers Economics and Data for Information Professionals.


Question: I need population figures for various countries starting at about 1850. Is there a resource I can check for such data?

Answer: You should start with B. R. Mitchell's International Historical Statistics: 1750-2005. It's shelved in the Information Center Statistics area and there are three volumes: 1) Africa, Asia and Oceania; 2) The Americas; 3) Europe.

You might also want take a look at databases like JSTOR and Project Muse to see what secondary literature is available on historical statistics.

Question: I'm looking for data on the average tariff levels of various countries from 1962-1989. Any version of the average tariff (weighted average) would be fine.

Answer: For any statistics question, the Library's Database page for Statistics and Numeric Data is a great place to start. From there, SourceOECD, the UN Common Database (UNCDB) (replaced in Feb. 2008 by a new site, UNdata), and the World Bank's World Development Indicators are good sources for international statistics.

In this particular case, however, you'll need to go outside of Stanford. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has kept trade statistics since 1964. Recently, UNCTAD, the World Bank, UN Statistics Division, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) combined resources to build the World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS), which gives access to the major trade and tariffs data compilations: the COMTRADE database (maintained by the UNSD); the "TRade Analysis and INformation System (TRAINS) (maintained by UNCTAD); the IDB and CTS databases (maintained by the WTO).

You can use TRAINS to get average tariff statistics. It provides online access to indicators of Trade Control Measures (Tariff, Para-tariff and Non-tariff measures), as well as imports by suppliers for over 150 countries. Registration is free at There is a registration link here.

TRAINS goes back to 1988. The World Bank has a page devoted to data on trade and import barriers. There's a helpful -- though incomplete -- dataset called "Trends in average applied tariff rates in developing and industrial countries, 1981-2005."

For data prior to the 1980s, search the journal and documents literature and/or do your own calculations for average tariffs. Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, EconLit, and the World Bank e-Library are good sources for journal articles about international trade.

Also check the following documents for possible leads and data tables:


Lastly, the library has a subscription to the International Customs Journal, published by the International Customs Tariffs Bureau (ICTB). This journal lists provisions of each country's customs tariff law and has detailed lists of items (steel, textiles, machinery, arms, etc.) and the tariff charged for each item, going back to 1891 in microfilm, print, and CDROM. More recently (2000-present), the ICTB has made that information accessible online here.