Population, Prosperity, and Parks: Notable Government Documents of 2023

This year’s standout selections from the American Library Association’s Government Documents Roundtable.

As in many years leading up to a presidential election in the United States, 2023 saw tense discussions and reports on matters both in and outside of Washington, DC. For the first time in history a Speaker of the House was removed from the job, the Israel-Hamas War broke out, and ingrained in our collective memory was the first criminal charge of a former U.S. president.

Amid these milestone events, people on the home front as well as internationally discussed—and wrote about—these and other hot topics of our time. In the first half of the year, the United Nations announced that India had moved ahead of China as the most populous country in the world, marking a substantial, decades-long change in demographic rankings. On the western side of the map, various states worked to enhance the prosperity of U.S. residents. California released an insightful reparations report, while multiple state agencies in Connecticut collaborated to establish a single unique web portal for its residents to aid in connecting them to a number of state parks.


Each year, the American Library Association’s GovernmentDocuments Round Table (GODORT) publishes a list of notable publications on timely topics. Below are some of the significant documents, reports, and even a noteworthy juvenile book of 2023. Each item has been categorized as pertaining to Demography, Military and Defense, International Relations, Health, Transportation, or Juvenile. Selections from each subject category follow. 



UN DESA Policy Brief No. 153: India overtakes China as the world’s most populous country. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Online. 2023. https://www.un.org/development/desa/dpad/publication/un-desa-policy-brief-no-153-india-overtakes-china-as-the-worlds-most-populous-country/.

In a United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs policy brief, India was revealed to have become the world’s most populous country. China previously held this title for several decades. While both are and will continue to be heavily populated nations, any such demographic change should be seen as significant. These fluctuations have effects on the health, housing, poverty rates, and other indicators of the well-being for a nation, and leaders should plan accordingly. The brief also noted projections for India’s population to continue to grow, while citing a decrease in population in China over the coming years.

This publication is a worthy tool for professionals in the anthropology, education, geography, and history realms, as well as many others, as demography touches all aspects of our lives.



The California Reparations Report. California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans. Online. 2023. https://oag.ca.gov/ab3121/report.

In 2020, the California Legislature passed AB 3121, establishing the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans. Their final report summarizes in-depth research of ongoing harm experienced by African Americans as a result of slavery in the United States and current systemic impacts. It then proposes a comprehensive reparations plan. The report contains a clear explanation of terms and language usage, and the detailed research is presented with evidence and personal examples. Recommendations are based on international standards. While voluminous, the research and recommendations are presented so that they are not overwhelming. The report’s 40 chapters are organized into nine thematic parts. Readers may download the entire report and/or executive summary or may choose to download individual chapters. The Task Force’s report also meets another goal—to serve as a framework for other states and for the federal government to address on a national level. This is an important document for a broad range of interested readers beyond California looking to learn more about the ongoing harms of slavery and systemic racism.

Report of the Public Inquiry into the 2022 Public Order Emergency. Public Order Emergency Commission (Canada). 2023. https://publicorderemergencycommission.ca/final-report/.

This 2023 report summarizes the findings of the Canadian Public Order Emergency Commission in response to the declaration of Public Order Emergency in 2022 following the lasting blockades and protests of COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions. Split into five volumes and accompanied by a webcast public statement from the commissioner, the report is clearly written and includes information on the commission’s process, with analysis as well as recommendations. In the fifth volume, readers can check out 17 former reports from a range of academic experts. Available in both English and French, with an American Sign Language option for the webcast, this Report of Public Inquiry is an important publication of recent Canadian governmental history.



Emerging and Disruptive Defence Technologies. House of Commons Library, Great Britain Parliament. Online. 2023. https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-9184/CBP-9184.pdf.

This very timely research briefing out of the Great Britain Parliament discusses both positive prospects and potential trials to incorporating new technologies to military processes, including the ways in which quantum computing and artificial intelligence can alter the nature of warfare. Importantly detailed are ways in which militaries might collaborate with academic, industrial, and legislative fields as well as world partners to ensure the successful establishment of such technologies. This 44-page document is an educational read for all.



Canada and Taiwan: A Strong Relationship in Turbulent Times: Interim Report of the Special Committee. Canada Parliament. House of Commons. Interim Report of the Special Committee on the Canada– People’s Republic of China Relations. Online. 2023. https://www.ourcommons.ca/Content/Committee/441/CACN/Reports/RP12317356/cacnrp02/cacnrp02-e.pdf.

This is an intelligent report, presented in March of 2023. Split into three primary sections, the publication covers topics including but not limited to Indigenous cooperation, implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, trade opportunities, and more. The 58-page report is easily understandable and thought-provoking to the reader.

Deposition of Finland’s instrument of accession to the North Atlantic Treaty. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Online. 2023. https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_213598.htm.

On April 4, 2023, Finland became a member country of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This text includes the remarks made by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto on the memorable day. As the accession of Finland to NATO more than doubled the organization’s border with Russia, this transcript marks an important moment not only for Finland, but for all NATO members and the world at large.



Health.CT.gov. State of Connecticut. Online. 2023. https://health.ct.gov/?language=en_US.

Health.CT.gov was established last year as Connecticut’s multi-agency portal for residents and providers, covering many aspects of healthy living (medical insurance, prevention, food and nutrition, housing, etc.), on a central dashboard linking health benefits, and provides help for Connecticut residents to access health insurance. The eligibility prescreen tool allows residents to determine which, if any, benefits they may qualify for before going through the application process. Information is presented by group and topic (i.e. children, veterans, LGBTQIA+, mental health, communities of color, etc.), highlighting health concerns statistically associated with specific populations. The section for providers offers not only links to licensing agencies and mandatory reporting, but also links to information for patients and families The main statewide navigation template could be more accessible, as the horizontal menu is narrow and all submenus are also on narrow horizontal bars (rather than vertical), which can make it difficult to remain on a selected submenu.

Statement on the fifteenth meeting of the IHR (2005) Emergency Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic. World Health Organization (WHO). Online. 2023. https://www.who.int/news/item/05-05-2023-statement-on-the-fifteenth-meeting-of-the-international-health-regulations-(2005)-emergency-committee-regarding-the-coronavirus-disease-(covid-19)-pandemic.

In May 2023, the World Health Organization published its statement on the 15th meeting of the International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic, which declared an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). Included here are proceedings and current statistics, as well as guidance for improving public health preparedness following lessons learned through the COVID-19 pandemic. This particular statement is also of significance because it included of seven key Temporary Recommendations, ranging from the integration of vaccination to the continuation of medical and public health research, which will be considered by an IHR Review Committee to advise on Standing Recommendations.



Park ConneCT. PConnecticut Departments of Transportation and Energy and Environmental Protection. Online. 2023. https://ctparks.com/parkconnect.

In a state lacking robust public transit, the Connecticut Departments of Transportation and Energy & Environmental Protection collaborated to form Park ConneCT, a web portal that aims to provide safe and reliable transportation options within a 10-minute walk to several popular parks in different parts of the state. The page provides links to specific state park websites along with related transit sites. For each of the selected state parks, also included are transit (bus, train, shuttle, trolley, etc.) connections along with downloadable route maps. This resource is a step toward providing more equitable access to Connecticut’s state parks during the summer.



Bountiful Red Acres: Two Farms, Two Families, and a Year on the Land. North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Print. 2023. ISBN 978-0-8652-6502-8.

2023 also brought us a juvenile book from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources that is worthy of inclusion. Two Farms, Two Families, and a Year on the Land is a charming tale of farm life in 1900. Incorporating subjects of racial inequality, environment, and growth (both literally and metaphorically), this book is as educational as it is entertaining. Spanning 76 pages, this publication includes a map, recipes, infographics, and lots of colorful illustrations.

Emily Alford is Head of Government Information, Maps and Microform Services at Indiana University. She serves as Coordinator of the university’s Federal Depository Library Program, which was named Library of the Year in 2020 by the Government Publishing Office. She also serves as the Chair of ALA Government Document Round Table’s Notable Government Documents Panel.

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