Saturday, April 16, 2011

Budget Cuts the Statistical Abstract

The Brooklyn Law School Library, like many libraries, has as a standard reference tool the Statistical Abstract of the United States (Call # Z7553.C3 U559). First published in 1878, it is the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States. Its print version and online version are an unequaled source of information for governmental, demographic, and economic statistics such as the median household income, the distribution of family debt liability, the number people in prison, the number of women holding public office, families that get food stamps, and statistics on health insurance coverage. Its use by legal professional in scholarly research is extensive. A search for “Statistical Abstract” in Westlaw's JLR database results in more than 5000 hits. See video below from the librarians at George Washington University:

Sadly, the just released 2012 Washington budget does not include funding for the Statistical Compendia Branch which would mean the elimination of not only the Statistical Abstract, but all titles produced by that branch (State and Metropolitan Area Data Book, County and City Data Book, USA Counties, Quick Facts) meaning that no new editions would be produced in print or online. The Census Bureau Budget Estimates to Congress for FY2012 show that that termination of the Statistical Abstract will result in a decrease in spending of $2.9 million and the loss of 24 full time employees. A Library Journal article Statistical Abstract Faces an Untimely Death has more details. The American Library Association has issued an “Action Alert,” advising members to “contact appropriators and tell them to oppose the defunding of the Statistical Compendia Branch.” Readers can sign a petition to let Congress know how important it is to fund access to government collected data through this very useful resource, a favorite of librarians and researchers. Readers can also join the Save the U.S. Statistical Abstract Facebook group.

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