The Government as Publisher: An Historical Review

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Orvin Lee Shiflett, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: To most librarians, the topic of federal publishing activities immediately brings forth an image of the Government Printing Office and the seemingly endless expanse of dusting leather bindings that form the enigma of the Serial Set. Many might even agree with John Harvey Powell's opinion that "government documents are stiff, graceless things, scarcely the happiest subject for spirited discourse among polite people" (Powell, 1957, p. 107). They do seem to be so—more used by politicians as a backdrop for the cameras of television news interviews than by researchers or the public. The attitude of librarians toward government publications is dramatically realized in that they are segregated into dark corners of basements as places fit for collections of ancient volumes presided over by possessors of arcane knowledge mumbling incantations like "Jai Si Pea," Sue Dock," and chants of "Mo' Cats" over requests for miracles of information that had been abandoned as hopeless by less adroit magicians working in the light and air of the reference department. This image, of course, is inaccurate. It is also misleading to curse the Public Printer and the Superintendent of Documents for the sins of commission and omission in areas over which these public officers have no control.

Additional Information

Library and Information Science Research 4 (Summer 1982): 115-35
Language: English
Date: 1982
Government Printing Office, Government publications, Librarians, Historical review

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