State University at Albany Department of Information Studies United States Government Information Sources ist 650 (call # 9109) Spring 2009 (Wednesday 7: 15-10: 05 in Draper 015) Instructor

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State University at Albany

Department of Information Studies

United States Government Information Sources

IST 650 (call # 9109)

Spring 2009 (Wednesday 7:15-10:05 in Draper 015)

James A. Giliberto E-Mail: (preferred) Legislative Librarian

New York State Legislative Library Phone # 455-2462 (W) 434-3276 (H)

Office hours: Wednesday 5:30-7:00, Draper 114C, or, at Dewey Library

COURSE SYLLABUS (final, as of January 20, 2009)
Course Description: An examination of the general and specialized sources that comprise the text and finding aids of United States government information. Assignments will give students direct experience with these sources, while lectures and readings will provide a framework for understanding the ways in which the federal government generates and disseminates information. In addition to print materials, an array of electronic services, including Westlaw and LexisNexis, will be studied.
Course Objectives:

  • Introduce sources of federal government information, historical and current, in print and electronic format.

  • Answer reference inquiries using federal government information sources.

  • Examine historical and current developments in the collection and dissemination of federal government information.

  • Trace legislation in Congress using a state transition model of congressional information.

  • To appreciate the responsibilities of government information specialists.

Requirements: Evaluation will be based on one project and five search assignments. Please see “Guidelines” sheet for more information.
Course Textbooks: Peter Hernon and others United States Government Information: Policies and Sources and National Archives and Records Administration, United States Government Manual (2008-2009) is required.
Procedures: Students should bring the Hernon text to class at every session. While the text will provide an overview of government information sources/policy, specific topics/sources will be emphasized in class lectures/discussions, additional readings, and with the search assignments. Readings should be completed before class in order to fully participate with class discussions.
Class attendance: Attendance will be taken each week. It is expected that students will be on time and attend all classes. If you believe you will be late or miss class, please let me know. More than 2 unexcused absences will result in your final grade lowered by 1 grade (examples: A- from an A; B from a B+). If you miss more than 3 classes, excused or unexcused in any combination, you should consider withdrawing from the class. In the unavoidable event of an absence, students should make arrangements with other students to pick up class notes and handouts.

IST 650 (Spring 2009)


1. 5 Search Assignments are due on the following days:

Search number 1: February 25 Search number 2: March 11

Search number 3: March 18 Search number 4: April 1

Search number 5: April 15
2. Project: The completion of a congressional bill tracing assignment-using legislative sources. You may work in groups of up to three for this project. More details will be discussed at the first class meeting.
3. Evaluation: The project will count for 60% of your final grade. The 5 search assignments

combined will count for 40% of the final grade.

Final grades will be based on the following scale:

A 94 - 100 C+ 77 - 79

A- 90 - 93 C 74 - 76

B+ 87 - 89 D 70 - 73

B 84 - 86 E less than 70

B- 80 - 83

Assignments are expected on the due date. Late assignments will be downgraded 1 grade per week late (example: if late on due date, your highest possible grade would be an A- from an A).

Plagiarism will result in a failing grade for the course. In addition, the instructor will pursue further disciplinary action at the University level. For more information refer to the "Standards of Academy Integrity" in the Graduate Bulletin.
No incompletes will be given without the express permission of the instructor in advance of the end of the semester. (Exceptions: extreme personal circumstances, and with a majority of the coursework completed. A completion date for work due must be agreed upon with the instructor).

IST 650 (Spring 2009)


We will attempt to adhere to the following schedule, which may be subject to modification, as needed:


Class Topic




Discussion of course outline, requirements.
Overview of Government Publishing

Shuler, Quinn articles



Government Printing Office (GPO)
Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP)
Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) Classification System

Chapter 1, Chapter 4, pgs. 72-80, Chapter 15, pgs. 339-361; Barnum, Griffin/Ahrens, Jacobs, Priebe, Sears and Selby articles
A Strategic Vision for the 21st Century
Knowledge Will Forever Govern
SuDocs Basics
An Explanation of the Superintendent of Documents Classification System


Field Trip: University Library, Room LI-B43, meet with Catherine Dwyer, Government Documents Librarian

Cheney article
Regional Depository Libraries in the 21st Century


Finding Aids, Print and Electronic

Chapter 2


Winter Break


Federal Legislative Sources

Chapter 3, Chapter 4, pgs. 67-72, 80-89; Richardson/Zarnosky, Imholtz, Jenks and McKinney articles

Review How Our Laws Are Made and Enactment of a Law

Search assignment 1


Federal Legislative Histories

McKinney/Sweet article


The Presidency/Executive Branch

Chapters 5 and 6; and Cox article

Search assignment 2


Administrative/Regulatory Agencies

Chapter 10 and Ashlin/Davis/Dalecky, Hartnett and McKinney articles

Search assignment 3


Judicial Branch/Federal Legal Sources

Chapter 11; and Understanding the Federal Courts


Statistical Sources

Chapter 13 and Wolff article

Search assignment 4


Spring Break


Copyright lecture by Lorre Smith, Librarian for Digital Library Initiatives

See ERes Copyright folder for links to additional readings

Search assignment 5


Meet at Dewey Library work on Bill Tracing Project


Last class

Bill Tracing Project

IST 650 (Spring 2009)

Additional Readings
Note that additional readings for the course will be available electronically on ERes. Go to click on the link, and use the “select an instructor” menu and find Giliberto, James. The class password is _____________.

Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Office of Judges Programs. Understanding the

Federal Courts. Washington, D.C. (2003).
Ashlin, John, Richard Davis, & Selene Dalecky. federal regulatory

portal. Journal of Government Information 30 (2004) 81-86.

Barnum, George. Availability, access, authenticity, and persistence: Creating the

environment for permanent public access to electronic government information. Government Information Quarterly 19 (2002) 37-43.

Cheney, Debora. Government information reference service: new roles and models for

the post-depository era. DttP: Documents to the People. 32(3) (Fall 2004) 32-37.

Cox, Richard J. America’s Pyramids: Presidents and their libraries. Government

Information Quarterly 19 (2002) 45-75.
Depository Library Council. “Knowledge Will Forever Govern” - A Vision Statement for Federal Depository Libraries in the 21st Century. Washington, D.C. (2006)
Griffin, Luke A. and Aric G. Ahrens. Easy access, early exit? The Internet and the FDLP.

DttP: Documents to the People. 32(3) (Fall 2004) 38-41.
Hartnett, Cass. Government Regulations: Protective, Restrictive and Influenced by the

Public. DttP: Documents to the People. 34(2) (Summer 2006) 29-33.

Imholtz, August A. The printing and distribution of the Serial Set: A preliminary

contribution to the 19th century congressional publishing. DttP: A Quarterly

Journal of Government Information Practice and Perspective 31(1) (Spring 2003) 8-17.
Jacobs, James A., James E. Jacobs and Shinjoung Yeo. Government Information in the Digital

Age: the Once and Future Federal Depository Library Program. The Journal of Academic Librarianship. 31(3) (May 2005) 198-208.

ISP 650 (Spring 2009)

Jenks, Paul. CongressLine: The Committee Markup. Law Library Resource Xchange, LLC,

December 23, 2007.

McKinney, Richard J. A Research Guide to the Federal Register and the Code of Federal

Regulations. Law Librarians Society of Washington, D.C., Inc. (2002, Last revised September 2006)

McKinney, Richard J. An overview of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set. Law

Librarians Society of Washington, D.C., Inc. (2002, Last revised October 2006)
McKinney, Richard J. and Ellen A. Sweet. Federal legislative history research: a

practitioner’s guide to compiling the documents and sifting for legislative intent. Law Librarians Society of Washington, D.C., Inc. (2001, Last revised May 2006)

Priebe, Ted, Amy Welch and Marian MacGilvray. The U.S. Government Printing Office’s

Initiatives for the Federal Depository Library Program to set the stage for the 21st century. Government Information Quarterly 25 (2008) 48-56.

Quinn, Aimee C. Keeping the citizenry informed: early congressional printing and 21st

century information policy. Government Information Quarterly 20 (2003) 281-293.

Richardson, John, & Margaret R. Zarnosky. A state transition model of United States

congressional information. Journal of Government Information 21 (1994)

Sears, Suzanne. Connecting Constituents to Government Information : 150 years of

Government Information. DttP: Documents to the People. 36(3) (Fall 2008) 16-19.

Selby, Barbie. Age of Aquarius – The FDLP in the 21st Century. Government Information

Quarterly 25 (2008) 38-47.
Shuler, John A. Libraries and government information: The past is not necessarily

prologue. Government Information Quarterly 19 (2002) 1-7.

United States Government Printing Office. A Strategic Vision for the 21st century.

Washington, D.C. (2004)

United States Government Printing Office. Regional Depository Libraries in the 21st Century: A

Preliminary Assessment. Final Report to the Joint Committee on Printing. Washington, D.C. (December 2008)

ISP 650 (Spring 2009)

Wolff, Cindi. Deconstructing historical census publications: a primer. DttP: A Quarterly

Journal of Government Information Practice and Perspective. 31(1) (Spring 2003) 21-25.

Current awareness:
GPO-FDLP-L is the list server for government information and the Federal Depository Library Program.
Government Information Quarterly is the professional journal dedicated to issues concerning government information.
The American Library Association Government Documents Round Table (ALA GODORT) publishes DttP: Documents to the People.

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