Go to:
Discussion
Online Doc
File
Poll
Event
Meeting Request
Picture
Kay Cassell's picture

Statistical Abstract

Can you let Ellen and I know if you think we should write a resolution about the demise of Statistical Abstract.

Thanks,

Kay Cassell

 

 

John Stevenson's picture

Apologies for my delayed response. Because of ALA has already sent a letter, I believe no further resolution is needed in support of Statistical Abstract of the United States.

I told Ellen that I thought that GODORT might sponsor a resolution in support of other works by the Census Bureau's Statistical Compendia Branch and spoke with staff from OMB and the Census Bureau last week to gather further information.  The Consolidated Federal Funds Report that the branch compiles uses data which will no longer be coming from OMB to Census.  USASpending.gov appears to use some Census data as well, but it seems that other sources will replace what Census had supplied.

It's not clear what motivated executive branch leaders to cut so many statistical responsibilities from the Census Bureau.  I posted a link to an article regarding discrepancies between data reported on US housing coming from different CB reports to GOVDOC-L but have seen no comments. The article, 'Census Bureau on Homeownership Rate: We've got “Some 'Splainin' to Do”' seems to ask reasonable questions.

The ALA Council list has some other issues up for possible resolutions but nothing with a government information focus like this.

John A. Stevenson
Associate Librarian, Student Multimedia Design Center
University of Delaware Library
302 831-8671
john.a.stevenson@gmail.com

Shari Laster's picture

That's a really interesting article that you've linked to, although I'm not familiar enough with data products to know what exactly could be said. If we were to write a resolution about an issue like this, maybe we could work with someone from ANSS or ACRL DIG?

-----

Shari Laster

Government Documents/Reference Librarian, The University of Akron

laster@uakron.edu / 330.972.7494 / @rhonabwy

John Stevenson's picture

Although I emailed the RUSA member whose Statistical Abstract posting was forwarded to the ALA Council email list, I haven't had any contact with representatives of the Anthropology and Sociology Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries or ACRL's Data Interest Group.  All of these are potential allies for preserving data.  These sound like contacts to be cultivated.  I plan to email the RUSA Councilor to share what I've learned and to see if she knows any more.

I am not a data librarian, so I've tried to contact people I know who work with it more regularly.  The reason some products are going away seems to be through OMB's efforts to minimize duplication.  I recall a Census Bureau speaker some years ago talking about the federal government's interest in obtaining data from administrative records instead of collecting it through surveys.  This elimination of programs might be seen as success, except to the data user who finds her time series being cut off.

John A. Stevenson
Associate Librarian, Student Multimedia Design Center
University of Delaware Library
302 831-8671
john.a.stevenson@gmail.com

Ellen Simmons's picture

John, we really appreciate your research on this.  As you know, ALA Washington Office also did not think a resolution was necessary.  However, in their Issue Briefs for ALA Annual, they do say:  ALA is working to have the funding continue at the Statistical Compendia Branch at its prior $2.9 million.

Perhaps we should change the question to "do you think a resolution on restoring funding to the Statistical Compendia Branch is in order?"  Or do you think that since so many statistical responsibilities have been removed from the Census Bureau that we just should not pursue a resolution about this?

John Stevenson's picture

Ellen -- I'm afraid that decisions have been made and the data flow to the Statistical Compendia Branch will be shut off.  Agency representatives I spoke with indicated that some data sets won't be collected.  If so, data users will need to use other data.

Some fraction of the $2.9 million will be need to be restored if the Statistical Compendia Branch is to continue producing Statistical Abstract (and any remaining products for which the branch will receive data.)  Having the ALA Washington Office remind the administration and Congress about this issue seems like a reasonable course of action.  Although many librarians regard the Branch's products highly, I'm afraid that it's not going to be easy to convince non-librarians of the value.

It's also possible that there has been or will be reshuffling of duties within the Census Bureau.  The article about the conflicting homeownership numbers I shared said there was concern within the Bureau about the differences.  We can only hope that those people responsible for producing accurate numbers will be retained.

John A. Stevenson
Associate Librarian, Student Multimedia Design Center
University of Delaware Library
302 831-8671
john.a.stevenson@gmail.com

John Stevenson's picture

Ellen -- I'm afraid that decisions have been made and the data flow to the Statistical Compendia Branch will be shut off.  Agency representatives I spoke with indicated that some data sets won't be collected.  If so, data users will need to use other data.


Some fraction of the $2.9 million will be need to be restored if the Statistical Compendia Branch is to continue producing
Statistical Abstract (and any remaining products for which the branch will
receive data.)  Having the ALA Washington Office remind the administration and Congress about this issue seems like a reasonable course of action.  Although many librarians regard the Branch's products highly, I'm afraid that it's not going to be easy to convince non-librarians of the value.


It's also possible that there has been or will be reshuffling of duties within the Census Bureau.  The article about the conflicting homeownership numbers I shared said there was concern within the Bureau about the differences.  We can only hope that those people responsible for producing accurate numbers will be retained.


John A. Stevenson
Associate Librarian, Student Multimedia Design Center
University of Delaware Library
302 831-8671
john.a.stevenson@gmail.com

Ellen Simmons's picture

I am neither a data librarian or reference librarian.  If anyone knows one - and I think our own Amy West is one - perhaps we could ask how they feel about the defunding of the Compendia Branch.  I also remember something about collecting data from records rather than surveys.  I believe that the strongest push on this was from RUSA, and if they are not offering a resolution but are instead joining ALA in a letter and letting ALA WO take the lead on when and how to advocate, then I'm willing to do the same (although I have no objections to a GODORT resolution).  The fact that little data is going to be channelled to the Compendia Branch could have greatly informed the Census Bureau decision.

John Stevenson's picture

I asked Amy (and others) about the data sources.  The Consolidated Federal Funds Report is a very useful resource which will be missed but it seems that users will still have access to data through the CFDA and USASpending.gov.  I'll contact the RUSA Councilor today to learn what she thinks.

John A. Stevenson
Associate Librarian, Student Multimedia Design Center
University of Delaware Library
302 831-8671
john.a.stevenson@gmail.com