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Get the Scoop on the Government Information Department

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
October 10, 2007

Changes in the use of space at the Dimond Library have resulted in a reconfiguration of the Government Information Department but not in a reduction of its services. The department has also changed its name from Government Documents to Government Information to better reflect its collections and services.

“So much of government information isn’t coming in physical form now that there’s access to Web sites,” says Thelma Thompson, government documents and maps librarian. “Tax forms, for example; people used to come in for the forms. Now it’s almost all electronic.”

But that doesn’t mean fewer folks are seeking them out for assistance. In fact, with government agencies putting more and more information online, data is more abundant than ever, but documents are often still difficult to find and use.

The Government Information Department, located on the main level near the IT Support Center, provides access for the UNH community and the public to U.S and Canadian information. Think of it as a specialized reference library that receives questions on a wide range of subjects. The Library’s online and “on the shelf” collections include subjects such as agriculture, climate, crime, the economy, the environment, education, geology, legislation, health, international relations, labor, population, regulations, space, trade and wildlife.

One recent inquiry was from someone who needed to know how many black women had been lynched in the United States. Another sought information on U.S.-Turkey relations after World War I. And yet another utilized the department’s map room, where there are more than 60,000 maps, to find obscure villages in Eastern Europe.

Many inquiries involve statistics and numerical data. In addition to government resources, members of the UNH community can access data from the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research. The department’s web site contains information about its data services (http://www.library.unh.edu/govdocs/).

On Friday, Oct. 26, the department will celebrate 100 years of participation in the Federal Depository Library Program. As part of the celebration there will be exhibits on Level 1 and Level 3 of Dimond Library illustrating the diversity of government documents and the role of depository libraries in providing access to them.

The Government Information Department is open Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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