Making Digital Progress | Notable Government Documents 2018

The Best Government Documents of 2018 cover politics, sustainability, and teen suicide

Digital access and preservation remained at the forefront across several venues of Government Publishing Office (GPO) activity throughout 2018.

Robert Tapella was nominated to serve as the agency’s director again; he previously served as director from 2007 to 2010 and since then as professional oversight staff of the Committee on House Administration (CHA) of the U.S. Congress, heading a review of Title 44 of the U.S. Code, the statute regulating the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) and government printing. This review led to the introduction of the FDLP Modernization Act of 2018, which would broaden the scope of the statute to encompass digital formats and digital preservation explicitly and expands collaboration among federal agencies in content management. It passed quickly through the House Rules Committee yet was not brought to a vote after much discussion in CHA during the 115th Congress.



The Federal Digital System (FDSys), GPO’s second-­generation digital access platform, was retired in December 2018 after nine years of operation. It was superseded by ­, which offers a streamlined, intuitive, and more responsive search interface, and extended browsing and search filters allow users to select documents by title, category, date, committee, and agency/author. New functions include "Related Documents," a cross-referencing feature enabling lateral navigation among documents with statutory or other functional relationships, and the "Documents in Context" feature, which facilitates hierarchical navigation between chapters in the same title. Its extensive metadata infra­structure, digital signature document authentication, and future-proof preservation methods that ensure continuity of content in evolving technology environments represent a large component of GPO’s initiative to obtain certification as a Trustworthy Digital Repository.

The complete series of the Federal Register is now available on the site. The project to digitize the 14,587 issues printed from 1936 to 1994 began in 2015 and employed optical character recognition (OCR) to expedite full-text searching. Twelve institutions joined the Federal Information Preservation Network (FIPNet) as Preservation Stewards and will digitize and curate permanent, online collections of select government publications.

GPO sought certification for FDSys in 2014–15, but the project was reoriented around govinfo upon its beta release in 2016. Jessica Tieman, GPO’s National Digital Stewardship resident, conducted an internal audit of operational policies and procedures and organizational support and infrastructure, comparing them with the criteria outlined in ISO 16363:2012, the international standard defining practices for assessing trustworthy repositories. ISO 16363:2012 enumerates 109 criteria classed into three categories: Organizational Governance, Digital Object Management, and Infrastructure and Security Management. The internal audit found that 78 percent of components were in full or exceptional compliance, though with opportunities for improvement in organizational infrastructure.

GPO retained the Primary Trustworthy Digital Repository Authorization Body (PTAB) to perform an external audit beginning in June 2018. Successful certification was announced in December 2018, making GPO the first organization in the United States and the second worldwide to be accredited.

Bryan Fuller ( is Chair, Notable Documents Panel, American Library Association’s Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT), and Reference and Government Documents Librarian, Morgan State University, Baltimore


Beyond Earth: A Chronicle of Deep Space Exploration, 1958–2016. by Asif A. Siddiqi. NASA. 2018. 393p. illus. ISBN 9781626830431. OCLC# 1015264295. SuDoc# NAS 1.21:2018-4041. online.
A history of NASA’s deep space missions from the failed Pioneer 0 in 1958 to the 2016 launch of OSIRIS-Rex, making excellent use of images and providing pictures of the spacecraft as well as those taken by the craft. Chronological entries on 245 craft, each with a short description, including its mission, launch date, scientific instruments, mass, and launch site, among other details.

Brackish Groundwater in the United States. by Jennifer S. Stanton & others. U.S. Geological Survey. 2017. 185p. illus. maps. OCLC# 982495047. SuDoc# I 19.16:1833. online.
Scarcity of water is an increasingly serious issue in the United States. This project examines the possibility of using brackish groundwater as a new source of potable water. "Brackish water" contains 1,000 to 10,000 (mg/L) of "dissolved solids," which makes it less salty than seawater but noticeably saltier than fresh water. In this nationwide study, the authors conclude that brackish groundwater, if properly treated, "may offer a partial solution to current and future water ­demands."

A Century at Langley: The Storied Legacy and Soaring Future of NASA Langley Research Center. by Joseph R. Chambers. NASA. 2017. 195p. illus. maps. OCLC# 1013974055. SuDoc# NAS 1.21:2017-07-100-LARC.
Established in 1919 as the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory, the Langley Research Center’s scope grew in the 1950s and 1960s with the establishment and expansion of NASA. Today, Langley remains a foremost research lab in flight and space travel. Making use of illustrations, maps, and portraits, the book provides an excellent visual history of this world-renowned research center.

Earth. by Michael Carlowicz. NASA. 2018. 168p. illus. ISBN 9781626830479. OCLC# 1057237983. SuDoc# NAS 1.2:EA 7/21. online.
This publication by Carlowicz, managing editor at the NASA Earth Observatory, has images of forests, oceans, mountains, deserts, ice sheets, and cloud formations. Notably, it does not display major cities, with only a handful of photos featuring any signs of human settlements or cultivation. A top-down view of our planet.

Great Lakes Navigation and Navigational Aids: Historical Context Study. by T.J. Karamanski. National Park Svc. 2017. 275p. illus. maps. OCLC# 988777419. SuDoc# I 29.2:144x. online.
This history of the Great Lakes demonstrates how this "vast inland sea" of 90,000 square miles has shaped both the region and the entire country. Karamanski begins with the earliest watercraft of the Paleo-Indian people up through the end of the 20th century. Probing the importance of the region to our national past, the book will be of exceptional value to maritime ­historians.

His Truth Is Marching On: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream of Freedom. Interior Dept., National Park Svc. 2018. 57p. illus. maps. OCLC# 1031215285. SuDoc# I 29.2:K 58.
This document introduces two national parks dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. One, located on the National Mall in Washington, DC, recalls the civil rights struggle. The other, in Atlanta, preserves King’s birthplace and maintains a visitor’s center, offering insight into the human experiences of life in a segregated society. Drawing materials from both historic sites, this brief work provides a glimpse into the life and legacy of this unmatched figure in our nation’s history.

Innovative Solutions to Human-Wildlife Conflicts: National Wildlife Research Center Accomplishments. [Serial Pubn.]. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, National Wildlife Research Ctr. illus. OCLC# 53003833. SuDoc# A 101.29/4. online.
Each year, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) publicizes the annual accomplishments of the National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC), which studies and attempts to solve "problems caused by the interaction of wild animals and society." Every issue includes three feature articles and a series of short entries outlining important accomplishments and updates. There are also an appendix of ongoing projects, NWRC contacts, acronyms, and a bibliography.

The International Space Station: Operating an Outpost in the New Frontier. ed. by Robert C. Dempsey. NASA. 2017. 438p. illus. maps. OCLC# 1059521580. SuDoc# NAS 1.21:2017-634. online.
Written and edited by ten flight directors, this volume includes a detailed and illustrated history of the International Space Station (ISS), which for 20 years has served as a human outpost in space, orbiting Earth every 90 minutes. The guide features discussions of life aboard the station and insights into the experiences and work of those on the ground who make each mission a success. Excellent use of images and personal accounts makes this an intriguing and human history.

Legacy of Belleau Wood: 100 Years of Making Marines and Winning Battles; An Anthology. ed. Paul Westermeyer. U.S. Marine Corps, History Div. 2018. 349p. illus. ISBN 9780160944123. OCLC# 1019854021. SuDoc# D 214.511:M 33. online.
This rich collection of letters, historical documents, images, and analytical essays by scholars and military leaders provides a loose narrative history of the U.S. Marine Corps from the 18th century to the present. The bulk of the work examines the 20th century, particularly following the 1918 Battle of Belleau Wood, a defining historical moment for the corps. In addition to scholarly entries by contemporary authors, the work includes excerpts by ­notable military figures, presenting both a historic overview and individual voices from the past.

The Mayaguez Crisis: Mission Command and Civil-Military Relations. by Christopher J. Lamb. Defense Dept., Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint History Office. 2018. 284p. illus. maps. ISBN 9780160945038. OCLC# 1039191014. SuDoc# D 5.2:M 45. online.
A fresh look into the 1975 Mayaguez Crisis, during which Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge seized the U.S. container ship SS Mayaguez. Lamb places the conflict into the wider global and historical context of trade, domestic presidential politics, and lingering legacies and frustrations surrounding the Vietnam War. The work includes more than 50 pages of endnotes, making it an excellent research document.

The Surge, Wave, and Tide Hydrodynamics (SWaTH) Network of the U.S. Geological Survey: Storm-Response Monitoring, Data Collection, and Data Delivery. by Richard J. Verdi & others. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey. 2017. 35p. illus. maps. OCLC# 1003865135. SuDoc# I 19.4/2:1431. online.
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy demonstrated the destructive impact of coastal flooding. To combat future crises, the U.S. Geological Survey began developing the SWaTH network, consisting of over 900 monitoring stations along the Atlantic coast. By collecting and disseminating new information, this network can make predictions and offer warnings, allowing coastal communities to prepare better for future storm surges. In includes a summary of the $43.2 million project, encompassing regional and state-specific flood assessments, plus maps, data tables, a bibliography, and images of hurricane damage.

Volcano Art at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park: A Science Perspective. by Ben Gaddis & James P. Kauahikaua. U.S. Geological Survey. 2018. 27p. illus. maps. OCLC# 1035557754. SuDoc# I 19.76:2018-1027. online.
This exquisitely illustrated work makes excellent use of paintings, sketches, and early photographs and provides a unique glimpse into late 19th-century volcanic activity in Hawai’i. These materials were the results of expeditions between 1880 and 1920 to record the plant and animal life, the people, the landscape, and the volcanoes. Beautiful works of art in and of themselves, the images are first-rate examples of what became known, unironically, as the "Volcano School."

World War I Battlefield Companion. American Battle Monuments Commission. 2018. 123p. illus. maps. OCLC# 1078387775. SuDoc# Y 3.AM 3:2 W 89. online.
Marking the centenary of the World War I armistice, this guidebook highlights the European battlefields in which the American Expeditionary Forces fought. Opening with a brief discussion of the U.S. entry into the conflict, the work quickly moves to major battles and the monuments erected in their commemoration. A valuable book for anyone interested in American soldiers’ experiences during the Great War.



Colorado Climate Plan. Colorado Water Conservation Board. 2018. 106p. illus. OCLC# 1021857757. pdf.
Colorado faces great challenges from global climate change. Consequently, this document sets clear goals by establishing collaborative efforts for solutions to the looming problems. The state involved every sector to prepare a plan on how the climate shift will affect their agency and their preparedness for the discussion on how best to address the situation.

Community Conversations To Inform Youth Suicide Prevention. Colorado Office of the Attorney General. 2018. 87p. maps. OCLC# 1081042250. pdf.
There were increased rates of suicide among youths between ten and 18 in four counties in Colorado between 2009 and 2017. The State Attorney General, Office of Community Engagement, hired health management associates (HMA) to study the affected counties with the goal of learning about opportunities and approaches to youth suicide prevention in those areas. The HMA designed a multipronged approach to facilitate the study in the counties and statewide.

Impacts of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado. Div. of Criminal Justice, Dept. of Public Safety. 2018. 258p. illus. maps. OCLC# 1059131393. pdf.
The report presents the baseline measures for the metrics specified in S.B. 13-283 (C.R.S. 24-33.4-516.). It originated from a bill by the Colorado General Assembly that mandated the Division of Criminal Justice in the Department of Public Safety to conduct a study of the impacts of Amendment 64, which allows the retail sale and possession of marijuana. The lack of historical data and continuous struggle to enforce the complex laws are a hindrance to getting definitive outcomes.

Libraries: Building Community Resilience in Colorado. by Amy K. Garmer. Colorado Dept. of Education. 2018. 39p. illus. OCLC# 1022949235. pdf.
This resource charts the role of libraries in keeping communities robust and vibrant through initiatives relating to lifelong learning partnerships among private, public, and creative enter­prises and facilitating greater overall community engagement. It also defines projects that make libraries more responsive and innovative and reinforce the role of libraries as central public venues that nurture trust and social cohesion.


Indiana Rocks! A Guide to Geologic Sites in the Hoosier State. Indiana Geological & Water Survey. Mountain Pr. 2018. 138p. illus. maps. OCLC# 1040529417. ISBN 9780878426874. $18.
A travel guide to sites of geologic interest across the State of Indiana, this broad overview of Indiana’s remote past features 50 specific sites, organized by region. The geologic phenomena range widely from fossils to waterfalls, caves, and more. Adding the relation of Indiana’s geology to human history and culture makes this a succinct yet comprehensive layperson’s work.

Landmarks in Indiana Geology: A Timeline. Indiana Geological & Water Survey. 2018. illus. maps. online.
This website presents a rich and copiously illustrated guide to mineral wealth and other earth resources that shaped Indiana history. Beginning in 1787 with the establishment of the Northwest Territory and extending to 2018, the time line traces the development of industries around mineral resources (coal, natural gas, clay, and iron ore) and profiles important benchmarks in the scientific understanding of Indiana’s geology with maps and other documents.


Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in North Carolina: North Carolina Health Equity Report 2018. North Carolina Dept. of Health & Human Svcs., Office of Minority Health. 2018. 25p. illus. maps. OCLC#1030960333. pdf.
This tool monitors the state’s progress toward eliminating gaps among the health statuses of different racial/ethnic groups. Data was collected from various sources, with key indicators based on their relevance to health and health disparities and the availability of information.

Status of Women in North Carolina: Employment & Earnings. by Julie Anderson & Emma Williams-Baron. NC Council for Women & Youth Involvement. 2018. 43p. illus. maps. OCLC# 1047607672. pdf.
Although women have made gains in employment and income parity with men, there are still opportunities for improving their status in the Tar Heel State. Part of a nationwide survey, this spotlight identifies several trends, including employment and earnings, in which North Carolina earned a "C" (an improvement over the "D" it received in 2004). As well, North Carolina ranks 32nd in wage gap and 36th for women’s workforce participation. Further divergences are found across economic sectors, races, and locations.

Study of Employment Collateral Consequences in North Carolina. North Carolina Sentencing & Policy Advisory Commission. 2018. 81p. illus. OCLC# 1046634477. pdf.
Collateral consequences refer to statutory and other restrictions that confound or prohibit former prisoners from reintegrating into society through housing, employment, education, and other modalities of normal life and the influence that these consequences have on recidivism. Statistical summaries of offense type, employment status of former inmates, and availability of social support combine with surveys of probation/parole officers and proposals for mitigating or eliminating the lasting negative consequences of ­incarceration.

This Day in North Carolina History. Ansley Herring Wegner & Jeff Miles. North Carolina Office of Archives & History. Univ. of North Carolina. 2018. 384p. illus. OCLC# 1052622455. ISBN 9780865264724. $35.
From its early days to the recent past, the history of North Carolina comes alive in this day-by-day compendium. Among the influential events and great names there are also scenes of daily life and vignettes of those who played a role in the history and culture of North Carolina and the country.

We Who Believe in Freedom: The Life and Times of Ella Baker. by Lea E. Williams. North Carolina Office of Archives & History. Univ. of North Carolina. 2017. 90p. illus. OCLC#975491092. ISBN 9780865264885. $17.
Ella Baker grew up in Littleton, NC, graduated from Shaw University, and is best known for her key role in founding the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), as well as playing an extensive part in many other developments in the civil rights movement. This volume, oriented toward young readers, traces Baker’s (1903–86) early life in the segregated South to the North, where she was a secretary for the NAACP, and back to the South, where she mentored the next generation of civil rights leaders.


The Prairie Post Office Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota. by Amy Phillips & others. North Dakota State Univ. 2018. 102p. illus. maps. OCLC# 1000258332. ISBN 9780911042924. $30.
Extensively illustrated, this volume opens with a history of North Dakota and the U.S. Postal Service’s plan to reorganize or close several dozen post offices statewide and the public outcry that ensued. The authors then explore, through first-person accounts and anecdotes, the part post offices played in connecting rural communities with the wider world.

Prairie Reconstruction Guidebook for North Dakota. by Cami Dixon & others. North Dakota State Univ. Extension Svc. 2017. 32p. illus. OCLC# 1019711809. print & pdf.
The multiphase process for reconstructing North Dakota’s cultivated land to prairies that can reduce erosion, promote bio­diversity, and restore ecological processes is outlined in this guide. A comprehensive step-by-step plan and detailed illustrations guide stakeholders through identifying goals, implementing strategies, and evaluating methods of planning, and establishing reconstructed prairies.


Socrates Project: Poisonous Plants in Virginia. Virginia Cooperative Extension Svc. Virginia Technical Univ. & Virginia State Univ. 2018. 33p. pdf.
Each poisonous plant profile here contains common and scientific names, a photograph, and text description of the physical characteristics of the plant and the landscapes where it is commonly found. Further details of toxicity and symptoms, cultural notes, and pointers to additional detail make this a valuable and concise compendium for nature enthusiasts.


The Forest Resiliency Burning Pilot Project. Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources. 2018. 215p. illus. maps. OCLC#1081042642. pdf.
The legislature instituted the Forest Resiliency Burning Pilot Project to "ensure restrictions on outdoor burning for air quality reasons do not impede measures necessary to ensure forest resiliency to catastrophic fires." The goal was to assess the benefits of prescribed fire and the impacts on ambient air quality and develop recommendations for continuing or expanding its use.

Southern Resident Orca Task Force. Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources. 2018. 147p. illus. OCLC# 1080277871. pdf.
This report makes recommendations for a healthy and resilient ecosystem that supports the flourishing of the Southern Resident Orca (SRO) population and the prevention of its extinction. Executive ­Order 18-02 was signed by Gov. Jay ­Inslee to implore state agencies to implement nine actions to benefit Southern Resident killer whales (known as Southern Resident Orcas). The state legislature and other members from diverse sectors identified, prioritized, and implemented a long-term action plan for the recovery of these marine mammals.


Asteroid Explorer "Hayabusa 2." Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). 2018. illus. maps. online.
This website contains a wide range of multimedia, scientific reports, detailed text, and other resources surveying the explorations of the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft. Launched in 2014, it rendezvoused with asteroid 162173-Ryugu in summer 2018. Four rovers accompanied the craft to collect data via radiometers, thermometers, cameras, and more. Hayabusa 2 will head back to Earth in late 2019, arriving here by late 2020.

Declaration on the 50th Anniversary of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies: Draft Resolution. UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. 2017. 3p. Symbol: A/C.4/72/L.3. pdf.
Since the treaty first entered into force in October 1967, more than 100 countries have endorsed it and affirmed their commitment to peaceful exploration of outer space through international cooperation. This golden anniversary declaration re­affirms the original and lasting principles of peaceful cooperation and acknowledges the momentous developments and promises in expanding the "final frontier."

Domestic Sexual Abuse of Girls: Women’s Rights & Gender Equality. by Katie McCracken & others. Policy Dept. for Citizens’ Rights & Constitutional Affairs, Directorate General for Internal Policies of the Union. 2018. 76p. illus. OCLC# 1081174446. ISBN 9789284634422. pdf. ISBN 9789284634316.
This study refocuses attention on a perennial worldwide problem offering definitions and conceptual models of domestic sexual abuse, analyses of risk factors, and the prevalence and reviews of current policies. It also applies these preliminaries to case studies on Poland, Sweden, Spain, and the UK and concludes with recommendations for member states and EU institutions.

Fact Sheet: Ebola Virus Disease. World Health Organization. 2018. illus. maps. online.
A detailed summary of important facts about Ebola, including its transmission modalities, mortality rates, symptoms, diagnosis, environmental factors, and preventative requirements for community engagement. A summary of incidence worldwide and the World Health Organization’s response back to 1976 are included. Related news stories and embedded links to external sources expand the utility of this resource.

Global Study on Homicide: Gender-Related Killing of Women and Girls. UN Office on Drugs & Crime. 2018. 64p. illus. OCLC# 1076919953. pdf.
This study examines the dynamics of lethal violence against women and girls. The majority of female homicides are found in family contexts, in which harmful stereotypes make women more vulnerable to cultural practices such as honor killings. Sex trafficking and conflicts like civil wars are also related. Drawing upon data generated by national statistical bureaus, this report concludes that there is significant regional variation in the numbers of victims, with Africa and the Americas ranking highest and Asia and Europe ranked lowest. With risk factors analyses, statistical patterns, policy reviews, and recommendations for mitigating gender-based violence.

Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC Special Report on the Impacts of Global Warming of 1.5°C Above Pre-Industrial Levels. Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change. 2018. illus. online with pdf chapters.
This expansive outline of the issues surrounding climate change and its short- and long-term consequences details projections of increasing global temperature and delineates a path for eliminating emissions, the challenge of economic development, poverty mitigation in the context of emission reduction, and much more. The "Summary for Policy Makers" is a convenient synopsis of key points throughout the website.

Is a Cashless Society Problematic? by Walter Engert & others. Bank of Canada. 2018. 31p. illus. OCLC# 1084978217. pdf.
The consequences of a cashless society are far-reaching yet relatively unexplored. Cashless societies are likely to emerge with increasing reliance on e-transfers, higher interest rates, and lower foreign demand for large-value notes, all making the production and distribution of banknotes too costly. This timely resource examines some of the concerns of a cashless economy on monetary policy, financial stability, and contingencies related to economic crises.

Media in the Digital Age: Reconciling Federal Responsibility to Official Language Minority Communities with New Trends. Parliament of Canada. 2018. 37p. OCLC# 1050975849. pdf.
In changing media environments, new challenges emerge, especially with the delivery of news and other media to official language minority communities (­OLMCs). Allocating funds to OLMC media, using such media in national advertising campaigns, and tax incentives for hiring personnel in OLMC are among the suggestions following deliberations between the parliament and media ­experts.

Social Cohesion and Well-Being in Europe. by Jan Delhe & others. Eurofund. 2018. 78p. ISBN 9789289717793. pdf. ISBN 9789289717809.
A higher level of integration is regarded as an indicator of social progress and a major element in well-being at both individual and national levels. Perceptions of exclusion and trust, participation in social activities, and a broader sense of community and belonging are some of the aspects of social cohesion. Conclusions: social cohesion is generally secure across Europe, but individual aspects vary considerably among countries.

TEEB for Agriculture & Food: Scientific and Economic Foundations. UN Environment Programme. 2018. 414p. illus. maps. ISBN 9789280737028. pdf.
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) lays the foundations for delving into the interaction between agriculture and food systems with biodiversity and ecosystems and the consequence for human health and well-being. TEEB uses a "systems-approach" to make sense of a complex network of factors and to facilitate more viable forecasting of policy directives. The document probes the effects of equitable trade practices, hunger, and other social welfare concerns on food systems and ends with a prospectus on integrating the issues here with other sustainability ­strategies.


This article was originally published in Library Journal's May 2019 issue.


Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing