45_BR_Howell

Sudden Selector’s Guide to Government Publications. By Alexandra Simons. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2017. 52 p. $30.50 softcover (ISBN: 978-0-8389-8915-9). ALCTS Collection Management Section Sudden Selector’s Guides Series.

The Sudden Selector’s Guide to Government Publications is designed to provide the latest information to those involved in collection development and management and user reference. It is geared toward the novice but may also be useful to more experienced librarians who wish to brush up on the resources available. While Simons clearly intends for the book to be referenced by librarians librarians newly working in a library that participates in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), it is not limited to that specific audience as the information it details could be useful for anyone wishing to obtain a further understanding of government publications.

Divided into five chapters, topics range from how to manage a government publications collection to general information on issues, challenges, and opportunities related to the FDLP and Government Printing Office (GPO). It also features direct links to US government sources. The opening chapter provides a list of useful guides, ranging in publication from 1999 to 2016. The guides, published by the American Library Association, Libraries Unlimited, and Information Today, among others, focus on collection development and information on agencies and policies. In just fifty-three pages, Simons effectively communicates historical and current needs of library users and the tools and directives on how to serve those library users.

Several of the chapters include a recommended reading section. While the recommended reading in the final chapter appears useful, the few sources listed were published more than four years ago. Given that the chapter is titled “Issues, Challenges, and Opportunities,” a more recent recommended reading list is desirable. With so much changing in how government documents are being disseminated, identifying all the relevant sources appears to be difficult. This reviewer confirmed that few pieces have been published on the topic in recent years. This lack of information draws attention to the fact that there is a lack of literature addressing issues, challenges, and opportunities related to government publications. The opportunities outlined in this text involve the creation of an online presence and instruction and promotional activities. An opportunity not mentioned is the room for expansion on the literature currently published about these topics.

While all readers of The Sudden Selector’s Guide to Government Publications may not have access to certain academic databases noted in the two-page list of recommended sources, database options could have been expanded upon, whether or not they have access to it. Familiarity with databases associated with government documents research would provide depth to librarians assisting patrons who may have access to these databases via other methods.

While the lack of recent publications makes this book more valuable given that much has happened since its publication, it has its shortcomings. Simons could have touched more on the concern for government documents disappearing and preserving those government documents, and could have better addressed additional resources. With the current political climate, this reviewer was a bit curious whether any of the links in The Sudden Selector’s Guide to Government Publications were inactive. The author is self-aware when she states in the first chapter that “some of the websites listed in these guides may no longer be available or the URLs may have changed” at the time of publication (1). However, all of the links tested were active at the time of this review. Whether the content in these resources is the same remains another matter.

Although primarily designed for librarians participating in the FDLP, this text is a worthy addition to any public or government documents librarians’ ready reference collection. The links supplied are useful not only to government document librarians, but librarians and library personnel concerned with business, medical, geographic, statistical, historical, and legal research.—Delia Tash (dmt25@psu.edu), Penn State University, Abington College

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