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Conference Proceeding

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Twenty-four years ago, in 1987, I made a presentation called “Basic Ready Reference: Documents that a Reference Librarian Cannot Live Without” at a meeting of the Iowa Library Association Government Documents Round Table. My top recommendation was the Statistical Abstract of the United States, that annual compendium of data so familiar and indispensible to American librarians everywhere. Twelve years ago, in 1999, I made a similar presentation at the NLA/NEMA Annual Conference, and again the Statistical Abstract took its place as the preeminent resource.

The title of my presentation today, “Learning to Live Without a Statistical Abstract,” signals that our gathering this morning is something of a memorial. The Statistical Abstract, born in 1878 and published annually thereafter, may well be dead, a victim of cuts to the U.S. Census Bureau contained in the House of Representatives’ 2012 Appropriations bill for Commerce, Justice, and Science. The U.S. Census Bureau anticipates that the cuts will likely dismantle the entire Statistical Compendia division, so other stalwarts such as the State and Metropolitan Area Data Book, the County and City Data Book, the USA Counties web database, Current Industrial Reports, and the Consolidated Federal Funds Report will also be discontinued (Kelley, 2011).


Presented at the Nebraska Library Association (NLA)/ Nebraska Educational Media Association (NEMA) Annual Conference, October 5-7, 2011, Lincoln, Nebraska.