Posted by & filed under Guest Posts, Keeping Tabs.

With the 115th United States Congress in full swing, there has been a flurry of activity with a number of high-profile proposals and actions.

One proposed bill that has not received much media attention is H.R. 482 and its Senate companion S. 103, both of which are entitled “Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act of 2017.”

Note in particular this stipulation in the third section:

Ҥ 3 Prohibition on Use of Federal Funds

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no Federal funds may be used to design, build, maintain, utilize, or provide access to a Federal database of geospatial information on community racial disparities or disparities in access to affordable housing.”

In response to this proposed bill, the American Association of Geographers (AAG) released a statement, entitled “Creating and Preserving Actionable and Policy-Relevant Geography,” which includes the following remark:

“The wording [in H.R. 482] is clear and troubling. Not only would the creation of new Federal geospatial databases on racial disparities be prohibited, so too would access to existing geospatial information of this sort and the use of Federal funds from agencies such as the National Science Foundation to study such data.”

The ramifications of losing access to this type of data are too numerous to enumerate in a single, short piece, but these are just a few of the possible consequences:

  • Problems distributing funds for minority assistance programs
  • Skewed and inequitable redistricting of Congressional districts (i.e., gerrymandering)
  • Adverse impacts on research efforts, development/redevelopment plans, and the drafting of policy

Any or all of these situations could result from a fundamental lack of information necessary to make informed decisions.

On a more technical note, not supporting centralized access to high-quality, nationwide datasets will likely not save money, because resources will either be redirected to (duplicate) creation of this data, or it will be cut entirely, thus forcing decisions to be made without adequate information. As Dr. Richard Ezike writes in a short op-ed entitled “An Attack on Open Government Data??”:

“I believe this is an attack on open data, and…a tacit disapproval to equal opportunity in housing and other means of living for all ethnicities” because “the more data [that is] available, the more ability agencies have to make sound decisions.”

Of course, this specific instance pertains to geospatial data, but the same concerns can be applied to any other discipline or data type—for example, the removal of climate change data from the White House’s Web site almost immediately after President Trump became president. However, there is some pushback: the state of California, for example, has pledged to continue providing data for free for public use.

Lastly, why is this important? Take a look at the National Equity Atlas chart of the week entitled “Why We Need Data Broken Down By Race/Ethnicity.” One reason is they give is this:

“Poverty looks different for White people than for people of color because people of color are significantly more likely to live in high-poverty neighborhoods even if they are not poor.”

Data alone will not solve socio-economic issues, but will go a long way towards making well-informed policy decisions.


Article by Douglas Burns, Government Information Systems Librarian at the Eagle Commons Library.

Illustration based on an image from USCapitol Flickr page.


Posted by & filed under Local Doings.

On Wednesday, February 22, members and guests of the UNT community will have the opportunity to hear a presentation from Dr. Mae C. Jemison at the UNT Distinguished Lecture Series sponsored by the UNT Division of Student Affairs.

Presentation at UNT Distinguished Lecture Series

Where: Union 314

When: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 – 8:00pm – 9:00pm

How much: Students: Free; Student Guests: $5; Faculty/Staff: $8; Community: $10
For ticket information, call 1 (950) 565-3355

Sponsor: Student Affairs-Distinguished Lecture Series

This event is open to the public.

Website: Purchase Tickets

Contacts: Ellysia Dierker | | 940-565-3355

A Brief Biography

Dr. Jemison graduated from high school when she was only 16 years old. After majoring in Chemical Engineering and African American Studies at Stanford, she enrolled at Cornell to study medicine, and simultaneously took classes in modern dance at the Ailey School. Later she built a dance studio in her home, and she has choreographed and produced several modern jazz and African dance shows over the years.

In between classes she traveled, did research, and provided health care in Kenya, Cuba, and as a volunteer in a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand. After graduation Jemison joined the Peace Corps, where she worked as a medical officer in Liberia and Sierra Leone. She also helped the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) research various vaccines.

In 1987, Dr. Jemison became the first African-American woman selected by NASA to be an astronaut. In 1992 she joined the crew of the STS-47 space shuttle mission and became the first woman of color in space. The STS-47 Space Shuttle Mission Report is available for download from the NASA Technical  Reports Server (NTRS), and a replica of the STS-47 patch is available for purchase from NASA.

After this mission, she resigned from NASA to start her own technology design and consulting company, The Jemison Group, Inc., and pursue her interest in exploring how the design of new technologies interacts with society and culture to influence our daily lives.

She also founded the nonprofit Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, named after her late mother, a Chicago schoolteacher, to promote her mother’s teaching principles and foster critical thinking skills, science literacy, individual responsibility, and other standards of personal excellence in schoolchildren. The premiere project of the Foundation has been The Earth We Share™ (TEWS) international science camp, where teens are encouraged  to explore solutions to various global problems.

Her company BioSentient Corporation, founded in 1999, develops and markets equipment worn to monitor a person’s vital signs and train people to respond favorably in stressful situations.

Dr. Jemison serves on the board of directors of several agencies, has taught environmental studies at Dartmouth, has been an A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell, and is a member of the National Academy of SciencesNational Academy of Medicine.

Dr. Jemison has appeared on numerous television shows over the years, sometimes as host, sometimes as guest. In 1993 she starred as Lieutenant Palmer in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Second Chances,” becoming the first real astronaut to play an astronaut on Star Trek. Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek series and was an early inspiration to Jemison, visited the set while Jemison was filming her scenes. This episode is available on DVD from the UNT Media Library.

Do You Want to Know More?

Numerous NASA publications related to Dr. Jamison can be accessed online by going to and searching her name.


Here are a few of the resources at the UNT Libraries that provide information about Dr. Jemison and her myriad accomplishments:


From the UNT Libraries Government Documents Collection in the Eagle Commons Library


From the Juvenile Collection on the Third Floor of Willis Library

  • Mae Jemison, by Sonia W. Black; photo research by Sylvia P. Bloch


From the UNT Media Library:

From UNT Libraries Online Resources:


From the Curriculum Materials Collection on the Third Floor of Willis Library:

  • Bookshop Reading, by Carmel Crévola, Mark Vineis, Jill H. Allor, and others (Grade 3 Reader, No. 44 is devoted to the life and career of Mae Jemison.)
  • Moving into English, by Alma Flor Ada (The Grade 2 leveled library books include “Mae Jemison and Her Dream,” by Meish Goldish.)


Article by Bobby Griffith.

Official NASA photo of Mae Jemison from Wikimedia Commons.

Posted by & filed under Special Days.

The missives of love and courtship collected in a president’s personal papers often reveal a more intimate, more tender side of their personalities than what is displayed in their often seemingly dispassionate official public personae.

Here are a few collections of love letters of American presidents available at the UNT Libraries or on the Internet. Some of them were written before the author had become president, while others were written during the author’s presidential years.

The original spelling, grammar, and punctuation have been preserved in the excerpts presented below, although attention to such linguistic niceties often assumes a low priority in the heat of passion.

John Adams

My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams, edited by Margaret A. Hogan and C. James Taylor
(Located in Willis Library, Third Floor, under call number E322 .A4 2007)

Correspondence Between John and Abigail Adams
(Available online at the Massachusetts Historical Society Web site)

John and Abigail Adams took pains to preserve the more than 1000 tenderly erudite letters they wrote to each other over a period of nearly forty years, making this one of the most remarkable collections of letters preserved from a presidential couple. Their love letters have assumed a classic status comparable to those of other famous couples of history such as Abelard and Heloise or Elizabeth and Robert Browning, and served as the basis for a romantic subplot in the musical 1776.

O my dear Friend do you know how I feel when I look Back upon a long absence. I look forward with the Thought that the year is but half spent. I often recollect those lines “O ye Gods annialate but time and Space, and make two Lovers happy.

By the same Token that the Bearer hereof satt up with you last night I hereby order you to give him, as many Kisses, and as many Hours of your Company after 9 O’Clock as he shall please to Demand and charge them to my Account: This Order, or Requisition call it which you will is in Consideration of a similar order Upon Aurelia for the like favour, and I presume I have good Right to draw upon you for the Kisses as I have given two or three Millions at least, when one has been received, and of Consequence the Account between us is immensely in favour of yours,
John Adams

Woodrow Wilson

The Priceless Gift: The Love Letters of Woodrow Wilson and Ellen Axson Wilson, edited by Eleanor Wilson McAdoo
(Request from Remote Storage)

Woodrow Wilson, who often appeared austere and aloof in public, wrote thousands of effusive love letters to his first wife, Ellen Axson, before and during their marriage.

I long to be made your master—only however, on the very fair and equal terms that, in exchange for the authority over yourself which you relinquish, you shall be constituted supreme mistress of me.

…and then I come myself, to claim you, to take possession of you,—of all the time and love you can give me: to take you in my arms and hold you till I have made sure, by feeling your heart beat against mine and by seeing once more the very depths of your eyes, that I am really at home once more, with the woman who has made me and kept me what I am. I tremble with a deep excitement when I think of it. I verily believe I never quivered so before with eager impatience and anticipation. I know that I was not half so much excited on the eve of our marriage.

Are you prepared for the storm of love making with which you will be assailed?

Wilson also had an extramarital affair with Mary Peck, a divorcee he had met while vacationing in Bermuda. He wrote her dozens of love letters. There were rumors that the affair might interfere with his aspirations for the presidency, but his opponent Theodore Roosevelt dismissed this possibility, commenting that “You can’t cast a man as a Romeo when he looks and acts so much like an apothecary’s clerk.”

A President in Love: The Courtship Letters of Woodrow Wilson and Edith Bolling Galt, edited by Edwin Tribble

(Located in Willis Library, Third Floor, under call number E767 .W837 1981)

There was speculation that they Wilson and Peck might marry after Ellen died in 1914 of kidney disease, but eight months after Ellen’s death he met Edith Bolling Galt, who had lost her first husband in 1908. Their meetings were chaperoned, but Wilson wooed her ardently, sending her flowers and writing hundreds of passionate love letters, sometimes signing them “Tiger.” In spite of the potential risk to his political career, Wilson proposed, and within 15 months after his first wife’s death he was remarried. Meanwhile, the Washington Post printed an infamous typo, announcing that “The President gave himself up for the time being to entering his fiancée.” (Presumably they meant “entertaining.”)

You are more wonderful and lovely in my eyes than you ever were before; and my pride and joy and gratitude that you should love me with such a perfect love are beyond all expression, except in some great poem which I cannot write.

Please go to ride with us this evening, precious little girl, so that I can whisper something in your ear—something of my happiness and love, and accept this, in the meantime, as a piece out of my very heart, which is all yours but cannot be sent as I wish to send it by letter.

Warren G. Harding

Warren G. Harding–Carrie Fulton Phillips Correspondence
(Available online at the Library of Congress Digital Collections Web page)

In 1964, while researching his 1968 biography In the Shadow of Blooming Grove: Warren G. Harding and His Presidency, historian Francis Russell discovered a stash of over 100 letters written to his mistress of 15 years, Carrie Phillips. Harding’s heirs successfully sued to have the letters sealed from the public for 50 years, so they were not included in Russell’s book, but they were finally released to public view and posted online by the Library of Congress in 2014. Most of the letters that have been preserved were written by Harding, but some of the drafts and notes for Phillips’ side of the correspondence have also been preserved.

By the time Harding was elected president their literary correspondence seems to have stopped, but some of the letters were written while he was a U.S. senator, many of them written on senate stationery. They invented a private code in case any letters might be intercepted. Harding referred to his male member as “Jerry” and his mistress’ female parts as “Mrs. Pouterson.” Phillips was enamored of German culture and allegedly threated to reveal their affair if Harding ever voted in favor of going to war with Germany during World War I. He did; she didn’t.

There are no words at my command sufficient to say the full extent of my love for you — a mad, tender, devoted, ardent, eager, passion-wild, jealous, reverent, wistful, hungry, happy love — unspeakably encompassing, immeasurably absorbing, unendingly worshipping, unceasingly exalting, unwillingly exacting, involuntarily excluding, everlastingly compensating.

I suppose you think it a crime to utter a word of love. Maybe you can’t — truthfully. Still, when I saw Mrs. Pouterson, a month ago, she persuaded me you still loved. I had a really happy day with her.

Wish I could take you to Mount Jerry. Wonderful spot. Not in the geographies but a heavenly place, and I have seen some passing views there and reveled in them. Gee! How I wish you might be along.

Harding also fancied himself something of a poet:

I love your poise
Of perfect thighs
When they hold me
in paradise . . .

I love the rose
Your garden grows
Love seashell pink
That over it glows

Lyndon Baines Johnson

Dear Bird: The 1934 Courtship Letters
Available online at the LBJ Presidential Library Web site

Lyndon Baines Johnson and Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor were introduced on September 5, 1934, and by the end of the following day he had allegedly proposed marriage. She was not quite as impetuous, however, and the two corresponded for the next ten weeks before he finally won her over, and on November 14, 1934 they, as Lady Bird put it, “committed matrimony.”

The nearly 90 letters that they wrote during their courtship in 1934 have been digitized and made available on the LBJ Presidential Library Web site. These are part of a larger collection of digitized correspondence between LBJ and Lady Bird that spans the years from 1934 through 1968.

Have been intending to tell you everyday about a little orange comb I carry in my billfold. It is the only thing I have from my little girl at Karnack and when I get lonesome and blue or happy and ambitious I always get pleasure when I look at the little comb and think…just think.

Again I repeat—I love you—only you. Want to always love—only you. It is an important decision. It isn’t being made in one night—it probably never will be yours—but your lack of decision hasn’t tempered either my affection, devotion or ability to know what I want. I don’t want to go on this way. Do you? Will you tell me? Give me lots of letters next week. I’m going to need them. Mix some “I love you” in the lines and not between them. 

Write me that long letter. Tell me just how you feel — give me some reassurance if you can and if you can’t let’s understand each other now. I’m lonesome. I’m disappointed but what of it. Do you care?

Ronald Reagan

I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan
(Located on the Third Floor of Willis Library under call number E877 .A4 2000)

Nancy Reagan collected her husband’s love letters and mash notes—often decorated with romantic doodles such as hearts, arrows, or happy faces—and incorporated them into a personal account of their romance, which had lasted half a decade.

Ronald affectionately referred to Nancy by such pet names as “Nancy Pants” or “Mommy Poo Pants,” and sometimes signed his letters with equally whimsical appellations, such as “Your In Luv Gov” or “Daddy Poo Pants.”

What do you say about someone who’s always there with support and understanding, someone who makes sacrifices so that your life will be easier and more successful? Well, what you say is that you love that person and treasure her.

Without you there would be no sun, no moon, no stars. With you, they are all out at the same time.

We are so much “one” that you are as vital to me as my own heart—with one exception; you could never be replaced with a transplant.

Feb. 14 may be the date they observe and call Valentine’s Day but that is for people of only ordinary luck. I happen to have a “Valentine’s life” which started on March 4, 1952 and will continue as long as I have you.


Article by Bobby Griffith

Photo of Ronald Reagan courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Photo of Woodrow Wilson and Edith Bolling Galt copyright 1915 by American Press Association.

Posted by & filed under Toys "R" U.S..

Paper modeling is the art of constructing scale models of things out of cut and folded pieces of paper. It is a fun and creative way for students of all ages to learn about geology, geography, space science, and other topics.

In the Eagle Commons Library, we have a large selection of templates for paper models that you can print, color, cut out, and assemble. Our paper model templates are usually published by United States federal or Texas state agencies. Most of our models come from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Many of the models are accompanied by additional lesson materials such as vocabulary lists, explanations of main concepts, questions to test one’s knowledge of the material, and bibliographies listing sources of additional information.

The templates are available in a variety of formats. Sometimes we have paper copies, but in many cases our versions are in microfiche format. Almost all of the templates are available online and can be downloaded for free and printed at your convenience. We recommend printing on card stock for extra sturdiness and durability. Most of the templates are available in black and white outline, but a few are available in color.

In addition to those templates produced by the U.S. government, there are many paper model templates available online that are produced by state or foreign government agencies. These also can usually be downloaded for free and printed at your convenience. Sometimes copies of the models already printed on high-quality card stock are available for purchase from government or commercial publishers.

Not all educational models are made of paper or card. Some can be made out of materials such as clay, wood, or even food! If you have access to a 3D printer, NASA also provides some 3D-printable models.

Landforms and Geological Phenomena

The following templates for paper models of landforms and geological phenomena are from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)’s Open-File Reports series. An educator’s guide at the end of each publication provides a summary of the main concepts, a vocabulary list with important words and their definitions, a series of questions to test one’s knowledge of the material, and a bibliography of sources for further reading. Copies at UNT are all in microfiche format, but downloadable and printable PDF versions, sometimes in color, are frequently available on the Internet. Many of these models are accompanied by computer animations, which are not available in the microfiche versions, but are included with the online versions on the USGS Web site.

Antarctic Ice Sheet: Computer Animations and Paper Model (Microfiche). (Open-file Report 98-353A). By Tau Rho Alpha and Alan K. Cooper. Menlo Park, CA: USGS, 1998. (I 19.76:98-353-A). Online version at

Arctic Delta Processes: A Computer Animation and Paper Models (Microform). (Open-file Report 95-843-A). By Tau Rho Alpha and Erk Reimnitz. Menlo Park, CA: USGS, [1995]. (I 19.76:95-843-A).

Chicxulub Impact Event: Computer Animations and Paper Models (Microfiche). (Open-file Report 97-442-A). By Tau Rho Alpha, John P. Galloway, and Scott W. Starratt. Menlo Park, CA: USGS, 1997. (I 19.76:97-442-A).

Crinoids: A Computer Animation and Paper Model (Microfiche). (Open-file Report 97-91A). By Tau Rho Alpha, Dorothy L. Stout, and Scott W. Starratt. Reston, VA: USGS, 1997. (I 19.76:97-91-A).

Earthquake Effects: A Computer Animation and Paper Model (Microfiche). (Open-file Report 92-200A). By Tau Rho Alpha, Robert A. Page, and Leslie C. Gordon. Menlo Park, CA: USGS, 1992. (I 19.76:92-200-A).

How to Construct Four Paper Models that Describe Island Coral Reefs (Microfiche). (Open-file Report 91-131A). By Tau Rho Alpha. Menlo Park, CA: USGS, 1991. (I 19.76:91-131-A). Instructions and patterns for preparing a set of four three-dimensional paper models that schematically illustrate the stages of development of island coral: a shield volcano, a fringing reef, a barrier reef, and an atoll. Online version at

How to Construct a Paper Model Showing the Motion that Occurred on the San Andreas Fault During the Loma Prieta, California, Earthquake of October 17, 1989 (Microfiche). (Open-file Report 89-640A). By Tau Rho Alpha, John C. Lahr, and Linda F. Wagner. Menlo Park, CA: USGS, 1989. (I 19.76:89-640-A).

How to Construct Seven Paper Models that Describe Faulting of the Earth (Microfiche). (Open-file Report 90-257A). By Tau Rho Alpha and John C. Lahr. Menlo Park, CA: USGS, 1990. (I 19.76:90-257-A). Instructions and patterns for preparing seven 3D paper models illustrating common earth faults and associated fault-produced landforms: The faults described are normal, reverse, right- and left-lateral, strike-slip, and oblique-slip; fault-produced landforms include a graben and a horst. Online at

How to Construct Two Paper Models Showing the Effects of Glacial Ice on a Mountain Valley (Microfiche). (Open-file Report 89-190A). By Tau Rho Alpha. Menlo Park, CA: USGS, 1989. (I 19.76:89-190-A). Online version at

Karst Topography: Computer Animations and Paper Model (Microfiche). (Open-file Report 97-536A). By Tau Rho Alpha, John P. Galloway, and John C. Tinsley. Menlo Park, CA: USGS, 1997. (I 19.76:97-536-A).

Make Your Own Paper Fossils: A Computer Animation and Paper Models (Microfiche). By Tau Rho Alpha, Scott W. Starratt, and James W. Hendley II. (Open-file Report 94-667-A). Menlo Park, CA: USGS, 1994. (I 19.76:94-667-A). Help students and others visualize the size and shape of a trilobite and a nautiloid and learn how they became fossils.
● Online version at
● Templates also online for color trilobite model and color nautiloid model

Make Your Own Paper Model of a Volcano (Microfiche). (Open-file Report 91-115). Tau Rho Alpha and Leslie C. Gordon. Menlo Park, CA: USGS, 1991. (I 19.76:91-115-A).

Make Your Own Paper Model of the Northridge, California Earthquake, January 17, 1994 (Microfiche). (Open-file Report 94-143). By Tau Rho Alpha and Ross S. Stein. Menlo Park, CA: USGS, 1994. (I 19.76:94-143).

The Northridge, California, Earthquake of January 1994: A Computer Animation and Paper Model (Microfiche). (Open-file Report 94-214A). By Tau Rho Alpha and Ross S. Stein. Menlo Park, CA: USGS, 1994. (I 19.76:94-214-A).

Ocean Trenches: A Computer Animation and Paper Model (Microfiche). (Open-file Report 96-76A). By Tau Rho Alpha and John P. Galloway. Reston, VA: USGS, 1996. (I 19.76:96-76 A).

Sand Dunes: Computer Animations and Paper Models (Microfiche). (Open-file Report 98-131-A). By Tau Rho Alpha, John P. Galloway, and Scott W. Starratt. Menlo Park, CA: USGS, 1998. (I 19.76:98-131-A). Online version at

Aircraft and Space Exploration

The following models are available from NASA:

Mars Observer Spacecraft: Paper Model Kit. (PED-134). Washington, DC: NASA, Office of Human Resources and Education, Education Division, 1993. (NAS 1.84:134) In Eagle Commons Library.

NASA’s Great Observatories: Paper Model. Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1998. (NAS 1.19:998-12-384-HQ). Online at

NASA’s Great Observatories: Paper Model Kits. (PED-136). Greenbelt, MD: NASA, Human Resources and Office of Education, Education Division, 1993. (NAS 1.84:136). In Eagle Commons Library.

X-1 Paper Glider Kit: Investigating the Basics of Flight with a Model of the First Supersonic Aircraft. (NASA Educational Brief EB-2000-03-001-DFRC). Moffett Field, CA: NASA, Dryden Flight Research Center, 2000. (NAS 1.69:EB-2000-03-001-DFRC). Online at

Universe Spacecraft Paper Models (NASA): Right now, there are several spacecrafts exploring our Universe. You can build paper versions of many of them right here on Earth.

Other Models

Some templates for paper models are contained within larger documents:

”R. Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Airocean World Map.” In US Information Agency’s Forum: A Journal for the Teacher of English Outside the United States Vol. 22, No. 4 (October, 1982). (IA 1.17:22/4/[PLATE 1]) In Eagle Commons Library. Plate 1 from this issue is a paper model of Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Airocean World Map (geodesic globe).

Texas Endangered Species Activity Book. , by Kathleen Marie Jackson and Linda Campbell. Austin, TX: Texas Parks & Wildlife, 1998. (TxD P400.8 EN21S 1998). In Eagle Commons Library. Includes a variety of templates for making animal masks, paper models of various endangered animals, and other educational paper toys. Also available online at

Visiting People on a Dairy Farm. Washington, DC: USDA, 1982. (A 1.2:D 14/4). In Eagle Commons Library. Includes a paper model of a cow, ”Cut out your own cow,” on p. [3] of cover; also online at

Do You Want to Know More?

There are several online indexes that will link you with other information about paper models:

Creative Park Papercraft provides many free printable paper models for educational and entertainment purposes.

Earth Science 3D Paper Models and Toys (California Department of Conservation)
California Geological Survey (CGS) staff have scoured the Internet and compiled this linked list of over 250 free 3D paper models and paper toys related to the Earth Sciences.

Free Spacecraft Model Kits provides free downloadable models to help learn about different kinds of spacecraft.

The Lower Hudson Valley Paper Model E-Gift Shop offers a variety of free, downloadable paper models for every ability level. They are mostly related to the space sciences, but there are other topics represented as well.

Please ask at the Eagle Commons Library service desk if you would like assistance in searching for or making any of our 3D paper models.


Article and photos by Bobby Griffith.

Posted by & filed under Hot Docs.

Plum Book Hot Off the PressThe most exclusive want ad in the nation was released this Monday morning.

Every four years, in order to ease the transition after each presidential election, the United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions—popularly known as the “Plum Book” because of the plum government jobs it lists—is released to the public. It lists thousands of federal civil service leadership and support positions (both vacant and currently filled) in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government that may be subject to noncompetitive appointment.

Positions listed in the Plum Book include agency heads and their immediate subordinates, policy executives and advisors, and aides who report to these officials. The Plum Book lists jobs by department, the type of appointment for each position, names of current incumbents in many of the positions, and salary levels.

The duties of many such positions may involve promoting the new administration’s policies and programs, and the incumbents usually have a close and confidential working relationship with the agency head or other key officials.

Source of the Data

The data in the Plum Book comes from the Executive Schedule C System (ESCS), a restricted database maintained by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and used to store information on federal employees in the Senior Executive Service (SES) as well as appointed employees in the Schedule C System.

Members of the SES serve in key positions just below the top presidential appointees and are the major link between these appointees and the rest of the federal workforce. They operate and oversee nearly every government activity in approximately 75 federal agencies.

Schedule C appointees keep a confidential or policy-determining relationship to their supervisor and agency head and are therefore political, non-competitive appointments. The authority to fill a Schedule C job is usually revoked when the incumbent leaves, and the agency must have specific approval from OPM to establish or reestablish the position.

The information from the ECSC may be slightly modified by the Government Publishing Office before publication, based on additional information they have.

History of the Plum Book

Publication of the Plum Book dates back to 1952, when the newly-elected Republican president Dwight Eisenhower wondered how many positions he could fill after ending a twenty-year run of Democrat presidential administrations. His list lasted him for two terms, but from 1960 to the present this list of political appointments has been issued every four years, whether there is a new president or not.

Although it is published every four years, those issues that coincide with the election of a new president always attract more attention than issues that coincide with an incumbent president’s second term, where there are not likely to be as many changes in personnel.

Earlier editions of the Plum Book had covers of Sand Gray or Killarney Green, but in 2000 someone had the clever idea of releasing it with a Plum cover, and the covers have been issued in that color ever since.

Where to Find the Plum Book

The Plum Book is alternately the responsibility of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The latest edition was compiled by the Senate committee and was issued both in print and online on Monday morning by the Government Publishing Office (GPO).

  • Print copies may be ordered online from the S. Government Bookstore or may be available for viewing at your local depository library.
  • A digital copy was released simultaneously with the hardcopy at the Web site. For now, a digital copy is also available at GPO’s soon-to-be-obsolete FDsys Web site.
  • Use the Plum Book Mobile Web app to read the Plum Book on your phone, tablet, or other mobile device.
  • An online archive of Plum Books are online back to 1996 are also available on the Web site.

How to Apply

All those wishing to apply for positions in the Trump-Pence transition, Executive Office of the President, or a federal department, agency or commission should follow the instructions on the presidential transition Web site at

After January 20, those aspiring to any of these positions will need to apply with the Office of Presidential Personnel.

Do You Want to Know More?

Getting Ready for 2017: An Introduction to the Plum Book provides a succinct explanation of what kinds of jobs are posted in the Plum Book and how the application and approval process works.

Jockeying for ‘Plum’ Federal Appointments May Begin Earlier in 2016 suggests seven steps to optimize one’s chances of landing one of these plum jobs.

If you have any questions about the Plum Book, contact the Eagle Commons Library, where the staff will be pleased to assist you.


Article by Bobby Griffith.

Image of Plum Book coming off the press from the GPO Instagram account.

Posted by & filed under Hot Docs.

supermoon-2016This Monday, November 14, will be for many a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a spectacular Lunar event: the closest Full Moon to Earth since 1948. If you miss this sight now, you won’t have an opportunity to see another Super Moon of comparable magnitude until 2034, assuming you and the world last that long!

What Is a Super Moon?

The Moon’s orbit around the Earth takes the form of an ellipse, which means the Moon’s distance from the Earth varies considerably throughout the year. The point of the Moon’s orbit closest to the Earth is called the perigee, and that farthest from the Earth is the apogee. When a Full Moon appears close to the perigee, it is popularly referred to as a Super Moon, since it appears to be somewhat larger and brighter than normal. In order for a Super Moon to occur, the Sun, Earth, and Moon must lie in almost a straight line in relation to each other, an astronomical phenomenon known as a syzygy. The technical term for a Super Moon is perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system.

The term “Super Moon” is not an official astronomical designation. In fact, professional astronomers often bristle at the term, since Super Moons in general are not particularly rare or particularly “super,” and the term itself was coined not by an astronomer, but by Richard Nolle, a practitioner of the pseudoscience of astrology.

When and Where to See the Super Moon

The Super Moon will reach its maximum fullness on Monday morning, Nov. 14, at 8:52 a.m. EST (1352 GMT), but it will also appear full the evenings before and after the main event. Go to the Web site to see the exact time for the Super Moon in your location.

This is the second of three consecutive Super Moons in 2016. The next one will be on December 13, at 7:05 p.m. EST (0005 GMT on December 14).

How to Shoot the Super Moon

Bill Ingalls, NASA’s senior photographer, offers the following advice on how to take an effective photograph of the supermoon:

  • Juxtapose the moon with a local landmark on earth, such as a well-known monument or building. This will provide a sense of scale.
  • Scout out a good vantage point, such as one away from city lights, and be aware of exactly where the moon will be rising so that your camera will be in the correct position when it happens.
  • Personalize the experience by including friends or family members in the shot. You can make someone appear to be holding the moon or balancing it on their head, for example.
  • Keep in mind that moonlight is reflected sunlight, and that the moon is a moving object. For digital DLR photography, use the daylight white balance setting; if using a long-focus lens, balance the need for a long exposure with the need for a fast shutter speed. If you are taking a picture with a phone, “Tap the screen and hold your finger on the object (in this case, the moon) to lock the focus. Then slide your finger up or down to darken or lighten the exposure.”
  • Be creative!

These Web sites provide further information on how to obtain a professional photograph of the moon:

How-To: Photograph the Moon (Popular Photography)

How to Photograph the Moon (With 10 Great Examples) (Light Stalking)

Do You Want to Know More?

These Web sites served as sources for this article and include more detailed information on Monday’s Super Moon:

November Supermoon a Spectacular Sight (NASA)

Supermoon: Closest Full Moon to Earth Since 1948 (

2016 Ends with Three Supermoons (NASA)


Article by Bobby Griffith.

Image of Super Moon from NASA Instagram page.

Posted by & filed under Get Help, Local Doings, Make a Difference.

VoteAs in many other locations, the turnout for early voting in Denton County reached a record high this election season. You still have one more chance to vote in the year’s presidential election, but time is running out! Polls in Denton County are open on November 8, 2016 from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

If you don’t live in Denton County, but would like to know where to vote or have other questions about the November 8 election, go to voteplz or the Federal Election Commission Election Day Links for information.

Where to Vote

The voting locations for Election Day are different from those for early voting. If you vote today it must be in the polling place designated for the precinct where you are registered. If you don’t know where your polling place is, go to the Denton County Elections Administration’s Election Day Polling Sites database to look it up by your voter name and birthdate or by the address where you are registered.

Bring Your ID

Be sure to bring an acceptable form of ID to the polling place. If you don’t have an approved form of identification you still have some options, but read the rules carefully and call the county elections office for clarification if you are still not sure about them.

Any Special Needs?

On September 1, 1999, when House Bill No. 1053 of the 76th Legislature went into effect, Texas became the first state to require that all new voting systems be accessible to voters with disabilities and provide a practical and effective means for voters with disabilities to cast a secret ballot. When you go to the polls in Texas, your polling place will be expected to meet strict accessibility standards. You can even have someone bring your ballot out to your car if you have difficulty walking or standing. It is recommended that you either bring an assistant with you or call the polling place ahead of time to make sure the officials are expecting you.

If you don’t speak English, or only speak sign language, you are allowed to bring an interpreter with you to the polling place.

For more information, see the Voters with Special Needs page at

Don’t Be Misled

Be aware that there are some people putting out false information and engaging in other deceptive election practices and voter intimidation tactics in order to keep potential voters away from the polls. For example, they may try to persuade you that you can text or tweet your vote, or they may try to prevent you from entering the polling place if you don’t have a photo ID. Some advertisements may contain misleading information about the date of the election.

If you have problems voting and suspect election fraud, there are several voter protection resources to help you.

Watch the Returns with Us

elections-watch-partyThe UNT Libraries Government Information Connection will be sponsoring an Election Returns Watch Party after the election. Join us in the Willis Forum to watch election returns as they happen. Bring your homework and order a pizza — we think it’s going to be a long night!


Tuesday, November 8, 2016 — 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.


Willis Library Forum (Room 140)

Contact the UNT Government Information Connection for more details.

Do You Want to Know More?

If you have any questions about voting on Election Day, call the Denton County Elections Administration at (940) 349-3200, or visit one of the following Web sites:

Election Connection (UNT Libraries)

Election Day Voting (Denton County Elections Administration) (Texas Secretary of State)

Texas Elections Division (Texas Secretary of State)

Election Day Links (Federal Election Commission)


Article by Bobby Griffith.

Albino Squirrel Vote Button and “Election Watch Party” image from UNT Government Information Connection Web page.

Posted by & filed under Get Help, Local Doings, Make a Difference.

The official Election Day is November 8 this year, but UNT students, faculty, and staff who live in Denton County will have an opportunity to beat the crowds and vote early in the 2016 General Election without even leaving the Denton campus. Other voters from the community who are registered in Denton County will also be allowed to vote early on the UNT Denton campus.

Time and Place

From Monday, October 24 to Friday, November 4, the UNT Libraries, in cooperation with the Denton County Elections Administration, will host an early voting location at the UNT Gateway Center. Visitors can park on campus for a fee.

The Gateway Center voting area will be open at the following times:





October 24–28

October 29

October 30

October 31–November 4

8 a.m.–5 p.m.

7 a.m.–7 p.m.

1 p.m.–6 p.m.

7 a.m.–7 p.m.

If the Gateway Center location is not convenient, residents of Denton County may also vote at any of a number of other Early Voting Locations during these dates.

NOTE: If you wait until Election Day (Tuesday, November 8th), you will need to vote in your designated precinct.

Candidates and Issues

Voter’s Guide from the League of Women Voters of Denton is available to help you become a more responsible voter by learning about the candidates and issues being voted on.

You can get a sample ballot by entering your identifying information in the Denton County Voter Lookup database.

Are You Registered to Vote?

To find out if you are registered in Denton County, go to the Denton County Voter Lookup database.

To find out if you are registered in Texas, go to the Secretary of State’s Vote Texas site.

If you are registered in another Texas county you cannot vote in Denton County, but you can request a mail-in ballot from your home county election administration if you are not going to be in the area during the voting period.

If you think you should be registered, but don’t know for sure or have questions, contact the Texas Secretary of State at 1-800-252-VOTE.

Don’t Forget Your ID

In 2011 the Texas Legislature passed a Texas Voter ID Law that required certain specific forms of identification in order to vote in a Texas election.

On August 10, 2016, a federal district court entered an order that partially ruled against the constitutionality of this law. The court order relaxed the voter identification requirements for all elections held in Texas after August 10, 2016 until further notice.

These are the acceptable forms of photo ID:

With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, the photo ID must be current or have expired no more than four years ago.

If you don’t have one of these forms of ID, you may fill out a Reasonable Impediment Declaration at the polling place and present it with one of the following forms of ID:

  • Valid voter registration certificate
  • Certified birth certificate (must be an original)
  • Current utility bill
  • Bank statement
  • Government check
  • Paycheck
  • Any government document with your name and an address (original required if it contains a photograph)

Do You Want to Know More?

Information about voter registration, voting rights, special needs, and other issues related to voting in Texas is available at the Texas Secretary of State’s page.

Learn more about the upcoming elections at the Denton County Elections Administration Web site and the Texas Elections Division Web site.

Contact Julie Leuzinger, the UNT Political Science Librarian, if you have any questions.


Article by Bobby Griffith.

Photo of UNT Gateway Center by UNT/URCM Photography.

Posted by & filed under Data about Databases, Get Help, Make a Difference.

FGIOne of the most interesting government information sites originates neither from a government agency nor from a depository library.

Free Government Information (FGI) is a private, non-governmental project for encouraging interaction and consensus building among libraries, government agencies, non-profits, researchers, journalists, and others who have an interest in promoting and preserving free and permanent access to government information. Ever since it was launched in 2004, FGI has promoted free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy, and research.

It is a well-known irony of the digital age that the production of information has never been more copious, and the dissemination of information has never been easier, yet finding the information one needs and preserving information for present and future generations seems to grow more and more difficult with each passing year. Although few government documents are published in tangible formats anymore, and access to those documents is theoretically available to anyone in the world who has access to a computer, depository libraries are not obsolete just yet. FGI provides a forum for discussing the evolving nature of the traditional role of depository libraries in acquiring, maintaining, and providing access to government information, and gives every stakeholder a voice in the continuing debate over government information policy.

Here are some of the resources available through the FGI Web site:

FGI Library

This is a list of presentations, white papers, published articles, and major commentaries and analyses by FGI volunteers. Blog posts on FGI provide announcements, commentaries, and rapid, in-depth analyses of and responses to pertinent reports and proposed legislation. They provide up-to-date information and informed discussion on current events, research trends, cutting-edge technologies, and related issues such as copyright, digitization, and the right to privacy.

Less Access to Less Information by and about the U.S. Government

In the 80s and 90s, Anne Heanue and others at the Washington Office of the American Library Association (ALA) published a series of books that chronicled efforts to restrict and privatize government information from the public during those years. This resource contains the texts of those reports, along with more recent FGI posts that document ongoing efforts to restrict, alter, remove, and privatize government information.  Readers are also invited to contribute their own findings.

Lost Docs Blog

Not all federal documents have been cataloged and distributed through the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). Those documents which have not been cataloged and/or distributed through the FDLP are known as “fugitive documents,” or “lost docs.” Fugitive documents can be reported to the Government Publishing Office (GPO) via their Lost Docs Reporting Form, so that these potentially valuable resources can be cataloged and archived, and thereby saved from permanent oblivion.

The Lost Docs Blog provides a public listing of fugitive documents that have been reported to GPO. Not all federal documents are within the scope of the FDLP, but nearly any published federal document qualifies for GPO’s national bibliography.

Writer’s Guide to Government Information: Creative Promotion

If you are a fiction writer or screenwriter, you know how tricky it can be to get the details right in your stories. Government documents can be an excellent source of this type of information. Although there are exceptions in certain areas of controversy, for the most part government documents provide an objective, balanced treatment of a subject and are written by experts either in the government or in the private sector. For some subject, such as space travel or U.S. military history, you won’t find any more reliable and convenient resources than government documents.

Free State Government Information

Works of the U.S. government are generally not protected by copyright in the United States and are automatically in the public domain (17 U.S.C. § 105); however, there are numerous exceptions and refinements to this rule. For a detailed explanation of how copyright law is applied to government publications, see Frequently Asked Questions about Copyright: 3.0 U.S. Government Works and 4.0 Works Created Under a Federal Contract or Grant on the CENDI Web site.

State documents, on the other hand, are much less likely to be in the public domain. State agencies are free to claim copyright to their publications, and even if they do not actively place a copyright notice on their publications, 17 U.S.C. § 102(a) automatically places them under copyright. Most state laws are ambiguous and often unknown, even by agencies within their state. FSGI is seeking to clarify these policies and ensure the widest possible access and use of state government information.

Best. Titles. Ever.

This Tumblr microblog collects examples of copyright-free government documents that have unusual, attention-getting titles. The titles might be funny, intriguing, convoluted, ingenious, or any combination of the above. Sometimes the title merely contains an amusing typo (e.g., The Impact of Computer Aliens along the Mexican and Canadian Borders). Others provide a look into the attitudes and assumptions of another era (Occupations Suitable for Women).

Here are just a few samples of the titles collected so far:

Would You Like to Know More?

Contact FGI if you would like to join in the effort to make government information a continuing reality or if you have ideas, suggestions, or comments about the site. FGI staff are available for panels and presentations at conferences, workshops, etc.


Article by Bobby Griffith, based on information on the FGI Web site.

FGI logo from the FGI Web site.

Posted by & filed under Local Doings, Make a Difference, Special Days.

National Voter Registration Day logoAre you registered to vote? Every year millions of Americans don’t vote, either because the registration deadline passed them by, or because they don’t know how to register. September 27, 2016 has been designated National Voter Registration Day and set aside to promote awareness of voter registration opportunities and to encourage eligible Americans to exercise this precious obligation to make their voices heard in the upcoming elections.

Voter Registration Facts

Your registration application must be postmarked or received in the Voter Registrar’s Office at least 30 days prior to any Texas election in which you plan to vote. To vote in the November 8 presidential election, you must be registered by October 11. If you miss that deadline, don’t despair! You can still register at any time and vote in any election that takes place at least 30 days later.

Student voters may be uncertain about where they should be registered, since many have a family residence at one location but are living temporarily at or near the campus where they attend school. In general, you should be registered to vote in the county you consider to be your permanent residence. If you consider your parents’ address to be your permanent residence, you may register to vote in that county. If you would like to register to vote at your college address you may do so, but you can’t be registered at both places at the same time.

If you’re registered in Texas but won’t be around to vote in person, you may vote early by mail. If you’re registered in another state but live in Texas, you might be able to switch your registration to the Texas county where you currently reside; otherwise, ask the election office in your state about their absentee voting policies.

If you’re not sure where or whether you are registered to vote, you can search the Texas Voter Registration database or, if you might be registered in another state, search the Can I Vote database.

Registration Events at UNT

The UNT community and visitors can register to vote at two convenient locations on the UNT campus Tuesday. Deputy voter registrars will be available in the lobby of Kerr Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and in the lobby of Rawlins Hall from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

If you are not able to attend either of these events, you may schedule a more convenient time to register by visiting Room 155 in Willis Library or by visiting the Eagle Commons Library service desk in Sycamore Hall. Texans can also obtain a voter registration application online from the Secretary of State.

In addition to registering new voters, we can also help not so new voters with a change of address, information on mail-in ballots (both in Texas and out of state) and information on upcoming elections. We are also available to come to classes to talk about voter registration and register students at any time during the semester.

This event is sponsored by the UNT Libraries Government Information Connection, in partnership with the Eagle Commons Library and the Public Services Division of the UNT Libraries. It is free and open to the public.

For information about parking at UNT, call the Transportation Services office at 940-565-3020.

Would You Like to Know More?

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission provides tips, calendars, maps, and other information to help voters in every state of the U.S., sponsored by the Texas Secretary of State, provides voter information resources for Texas residents. provides up to date schedules, statistics, polling site locations, and other resources for Denton County voters. Use the Voter Lookup service to find out if you are registered to vote in Denton County.

The UNT Libraries Election Connection provides links to election information resources for the UNT community.

If you have any questions about Tuesday’s event or wish to learn about any other civic awareness events hosted by the UNT Libraries, please contact us at


Article by Bobby Griffith.

Image: National Voter Registration Day logo.