Podcast episode on race, ethnicity and the U.S. Census

I learned (or was reminded) that I am a Census geek when I got excited that one of my favorite podcasts,  Code Switch, recently did an episode on the Census called “Here’s Why The Census Started Counting Latinos, And How That Could Change In 2020.”  CodeSwitch is a blog and podcast from National Public Radio.  Here’s a good description of CodeSwitch, from their About the Code Switch Team page:  “We’re a team of journalists fascinated by the overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, how they play out in our lives and communities, and how all of this is shifting.”

The August 3, 2017, podcast on the Census not only covers the history of how the Census has (or has not) counted Latinos over the decades.  It also features an interview with John Thompson, former director of the Census (the Code Switch blog features a longer version of the interview here) and a discussion of the possibilities and implications of adding “Middle Eastern or North African” (MENA) as a category for race and ethnicity.

I learned a lot from Kat Chow’s story “For Some Americans Of MENA Descent, Checking A Census Box Is Complicated,” which appeared on Code Switch’s blog on March 11, 2017.  I’ve wondered in the past how people of Middle Eastern or North African descent have identified themselves in the Census…this story describes how some people of MENA descent have grappled with that issue.

I also learned about the (well-founded) fears of people of color regarding how Census data might be used.   Chow points out “…the U.S. government used census data to locate and deliver more than 100,000 Japanese Americans to incarceration camps,” not by using individual Census data, but by identifying areas where lots of Japanese Americans lived in 1940.

Code Switch has also published stories on whether the Census Bureau will collect LGBT data.  

Shereen Marisol Meraji, one of the hosts of theCode Switch podcast, and host of the August 3 episode, promises more coverage of the upcoming 2020 Census.  I look forward to it–Code Switch provides valuable perspective and context.  Plus, I like knowing there are other Census geeks out there!

–Beth Harper, Government information and reference librarian, Memorial Library, UW-Madison

 

 

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Presidential transitions

Sources for texts of presidential actions & public remarks

As we undergo executive (and legislative)-branch transitions on a federal level, there are a few resources I’d like to highlight.

Presidential documents, including presidential proclamations and executive orders, are published in the Federal Register, which is published every weekday by the Office of the Federal Register, which is part of the National Archives. There are a few sites for the Federal Register:

In its “About the Federal Register” section, GPO says, in the “Presidential Documents Section in the Federal Register” paragraph:

This section of the Federal Register contains documents signed by the President and submitted to the Office of the Federal Register for publication. Presidential documents include Proclamations and Executive Orders, as well as other documents such as determinations, letters, memorandums, and reorganization plans. The documents are compiled annually in title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

I had to pull out my gov docs textbook, Tapping the Government Grapevine, 3rd edition, to find the distinction between executive orders and presidential proclamations.  Judith Schiek Robinson says,

Legally, proclamations and executive orders are the same…In actual use, most executive orders are working documents often used to command government agencies or officials, while proclamations address the general public (p. 130)

Periodically the Office of the Federal Register publishes The Compilation of Presidential Documents, which includes remarks made by the president that don’t have the force of law, and a bunch of other  things described here.  The Compilation of Presidential Documents is available at  GPO’s FDSys site, and its Govinfo site (https://www.govinfo.gov/app/collection/CPD)

You can also look at the White House’s web site, particularly the section labelled “Briefing Room.”

There is a lag time between when executive orders are signed, and when they are published.  I don’t know if there’s ever been a standard lag time.  The Federal Register of Jan 30 contains executive orders and proclamations signed on Jan 24 and 25.

Did the old White House site just disappear?

Executive branch websites reflect the priorities of the current President, just as executive branch tangible publications do.  Congressional publications reflect the priorities of current members of Congress.  This is something I try to remember to tell patrons when I’m talking about government publications.

With tangible publications, literal “paper trails” of previous Presidential administrations’ priorities exist (thanks, in part, to the Federal Depository Library Program, in which 19 Wisconsin libraries participate).  The development of systems to keep a historical record of electronic documents is a process many of us have been alive to witness, and it’s still ongoing.  One example of a process to capture electronic government information, the End of Term Web Archive, has been led, in large part, by libraries.  It has preserved websites from administration changes in 2008, 2012, and 2016.

You can view an archived version of the White House website under Barack Obama’s administration at https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov    I don’t know how deep it goes, but I was able to view blog posts back to July 2010  and speeches and remarks back to January 2009 .

Other archived White House Sites are available from the National Archives and Records Administration.

–Beth Harper, Government information/reference librarian, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Summertime in the outdoors

Mosquitos

Earlier this week, I went into my backyard about 90 minutes before sunset. Thanks to the mosquitos (and other flying insects), I lasted about a minute! This was the worst I’d seen the mosquitos all summer. So, I tried to figure out WHY there were so many of them. My theory: a whole bunch of mosquito eggs were laid in the aftermath of storms that dumped 2.79 inches of rain on Madison on July 21 and caused flooding around the city. Maybe those mosquitos were now mature and looking for blood. As I related this theory to a colleague, I realized I could look up information on a mosquito’s life cycle. Lo and behold, one of my first results was from the federal government, the Environmental Protection Agency to be exact. Its website on Mosquito Control includes a page on the Mosquito Life Cycle. Given the life cycle of the mosquito, it’s possible my theory is correct, though I’m not sure I’ve had enough standing water in my backyard to hatch many mosquitos.

When discussing government publications about mosquitos, I feel it’s my duty to mention Dr. Seuss’s contribution to the “genre,” a pamphlet entitled This Is Ann: She’s Dying to Meet You. You can learn more about this publication from an April 12, 2012 post by Erin Rushing on the Smithsonian Libraries blog Unbound.

Wisconsin Outdoor Report

On a more pleasant note, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issues an Outdoor Report each Thursday. There’s a general report, followed by five regional reports, for Northern, Northeast, Southeast, South Central, and West Central Wisconsin. The reports tend to be heavy on fishing news, at least in the spring and summer, but do include some information on bug populations, plant life, and general water conditions. In the fall, these reports have information on the state of fall foliage.

National Park Service Centennial

August 25, 2016, marks the centennial of the U.S. National Park Service. In Wisconsin, there’s a John Muir Centennial Event on August 6, at the Ice Age National Scenic Trail at John Muir County Park in Marquette County (about seven miles south of Montello. Registration is required to attend the festival, which will feature a children’s art exhibit, workshops, hikes and poetry recitation by Wisconsin State Poet Laureate. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail passes through this park.

Beth Harper, Government information/reference librarian, Memorial Library, UW-Madison

In the news…

Brexit

Jim Church, International Documents Librarian at University of California-Berkeley, has a page on European Union: Brexit. It links to some non-government publications, and resources specific to UC-Berkely.  It also has nice sections with links to

  • EU Selected Statements & Links
  • Official Publications: Great Britain, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, & Northern Ireland

Civilian/police shootings

President Obama’s statements on

In his statement on the fatal shootings of Sterling and Castile, President Obama referred to the recommendations in the final report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

Investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server

The FBI’s July 5  blog post includes a link to Director James Comey’s full remarks made on the matter on that day.

On a somewhat (?) lighter note

On June 24, 2016, President Obama designated Christopher Park in New York City the  Stonewall National Monument.

–Submitted by Beth Harper, UW-Madison’s Memorial Library

Did you spot any snowy owls during the Christmas bird count?

The winters of 2013-14 and 2014-15 saw an unusually large number of snowy owls coming through Wisconsin.  What about this year?  Check out the Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources’s page on snowy owls:

http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/WildlifeHabitat/SnowyOwls.html

(A co-worker of mine, who is an Audobon Field Trips coordinator and leader, strongly recommends paying special attention to the “Viewing Considerations” tab.)

In November the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted “8 Fascinating Facts About Snowy Owls:”

http://www.fws.gov/news/blog/index.cfm/2015/11/23/8-Fascinating-Facts-About-SnowyOwls

And the Christmas Bird Count?  It’s not a government thing; it’s an Audobon Society thing (though quite a few counts take place on government refuges.  You can read about the history here.

Beth Harper
Government information reference librarian
Memorial Library, UW-Madison