Homework: Government Sources

Here’s my homework from yesterday. I never got a great answer for the question on recycling centers, but the instructor said, there really isn’t a direct one. All these are questions people really have asked reference librarians.

  1.  I was told that you have to have been born in the US to be president.  As I was looking into Mitt Romney’s background, I found out that his father ran for president in 1968 but was born in Mexico.  How can this be?

    I tried usa.gov first and loc.gov, but the searches yielded too many results and most didn’t answer the question. Then I tried the White House website, but that doesn’t offer such specific information on the 1968 election. Then I resorted to Wikipedia, where I found a link to an ABC News, which explained that because George Romney’s parents were US citizens, at birth he qualifies for US citizenship, which I know to be accurate as friends have had children abroad and the babies are citizens as soon as the birth is reported. ABC cited a report which further explains that the government never determined what “natural born” does mean. Romney pulled out of the election before that was done. The report states that the constitution’s framers feared that European aristocracy would come to the US and try to run for office. That’s why they specified that a president must be a “natural born citizen.” The case of expat children has never been addressed and decided. Though I’m disappointed that I resorted to Wikipedia, I do trust the information in the end as ABC is usually reputable and the report seems well written and researched.

    “George W. Romney” (2014). Wikipedia. Retreived from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_W._Romney on April 28, 2014.

    Kahn, H. (Jan. 27, 2012).  How Mitt Romney’s Mexican-Born Father Was Eligible to be President?, ABC News. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/01/how-mitt-romneys-mexican-born-father-was-eligible-to-be-president/ on April 28, 2014.

    Markell, J. (Nov. 14, 2011). Qualifications for President and the “Natural Born” Citizenship Eligibility Requirement. Congressional Research Service. Retreived from http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42097.pdf on April 28, 2014.


  1. What are the most recent travel warnings from the Department of State?  What other travel updates does the Department of State publish?

    I went to state.gov’s travel warnings page and found that in April there have been warnings issued for Ukraine, Chad, Congo, Colombia, Sudan, Kenya and Burundi. A patron can sign up for emailed updates or search by country to the status of a previous warning. There’s a worldwide travel warning regarding terrorism that was updated April 10, 2014.

    If you sign up with a specific embassy, e.g. U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Seoul, wherever, you will get monthly and emergency emails pertaining to their services and programs. Foreign visitors can get updates at state.gov on visa policies, which are subject to change. For example the State Dept. has changed visa policy for Ukrainian citizens and there’s a change for mothers of children born through assisted reproductive technology.

    If you type “update” into the search box, all updates such as system maintenance for the Educational and Cultural Affairs office will show up. I have often used the State Dept. website and know how reliable it is.

    Travel Warnings. (2014) . U.S. State Department. Retrieved from http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings.htmlhttp://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings.html%20 on April 21, 2014.

    Visa Policy Updates (2014). U.S. State Department. Retrieved from http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/visa-policy-update.html on April 21, 2014.

  2. How many recycling programs are there in the United States?  How many are industrial?  Residential?  Other?

    This question stumped me – a lot. I tried epa.gov with no luck.  I got lost in the Statistical Abstract beforeI tried FedStats and ProQuest Statistical Insight.

    From Reference USA using the keywords “recycling center” Standard Industry Classification (SIC) number, I found 12,098 businesses whose primary business was “recycling center.” Some companies may do recycling in addition to other services. I haven’t included them, but you can by refining the search. Users may also select additional terms such as “Recycling oil” to expand the search. Also with Reference USA, I used North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and got over 16,000,000. However though I specified “primary business” as recycling, some entries were for assorted businesses like seafood purveyors, so I would disregard this figure.

    Not wanting to give up, I went to GPO’s website and found the EPA’s 2012 Municipal Solid Waste Report. While I didn’t see exact data that answers the question, if the patron had some expertise, he or she could extrapolate or look through the references to find what’s needed. In addition, I returned to the EPA site and found that in the Midwest, we’re served by Region 5 of the EPA and their phone number is 800-621-8431 and are available from 8:30 am to 4:30pm.

    I also joined the ListServ GOVDOC-L which was mentioned in our text and submitted this question for help, but haven’t gotten a reply.

    All in all, I feel like I’m on shaky ground with this response, though I did try reliable sources mentioned in the text and in class. It’s a situation where I keenly feel that I’m a novice and at work I would seek out help from more experienced colleagues.

    EPA Region 5. (2014). United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved from http://www2.epa.gov/aboutepa/epa-region-5 on May 1, 2014.

    Municipal Solid Waste in the United States. (May, 2013). United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/MSWcharacterization_fnl_060713_2_rpt.pdf on May 1, 2014.

    Recycling Center. (2014). Reference USA. Retrieved on May 1, 2014.

  1. Who is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?  What are the required qualifications for this position?  How is this position filled?

    I first went to USA.gov and found a link to the Joint Chiefs of Staff website.

    General Martin E. Dempsey is the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    I couldn’t quickly find out from the Joint Chiefs of Staff website how the chairman is selected. My hunch was the President appoints him and the legislature approves the appointment. I used Cornell Law School’s Legal information website to find the code or law. I found 10 U.S. Code § 152 – Chairman: appointment; grade and rank, which reads:

    (a) Appointment; Term of Office.—

    (1) There is a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, from the officers of the regular components of the armed forces. The Chairman serves at the pleasure of the President for a term of two years, beginning on October 1 of odd-numbered years. Subject to paragraph (3), an officer serving as Chairman may be reappointed in the same manner for two additional terms. However, in time of war there is no limit on the number of reappointments.

    (2) In the event of the death, retirement, resignation, or reassignment of the officer serving as Chairman before the end of the term for which the officer was appointed, an officer appointed to fill the vacancy shall serve as Chairman only for the remainder of the original term, but may be reappointed as provided in paragraph (1)

    (3) An officer may not serve as Chairman or Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff if the combined period of service of such officer in such positions exceeds six years. However, the President may extend to eight years the combined period of service an officer may serve in such positions if he determines such action is in the national interest. The limitations of this paragraph do not apply in time of war.
    (b) Requirement for Appointment.—

    (1) The President may appoint an officer as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff only if the officer has served as—

    (A) the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,

    (B) the Chief of Staff of the Army, the Chief of Naval Operations, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, or the Commandant of the Marine Corps; or

    (C) the commander of a unified or specified combatant command.

    (2) The President may waive paragraph (1) in the case of an officer if the President determines such action is necessary in the national interest.

    (c) Grade and Rank.— The Chairman, while so serving, holds the grade of general or, in the case of an officer of the Navy, admiral and outranks all other officers of the armed forces. However, he may not exercise military command over the Joint Chiefs of Staff or any of the armed forces.

    I used Cornell’s Law School website frequently during my short stint in law school and found the information reliable and accurate. If I had access to the legal version of LexisNexis, I would have used that. I tried the academic LexisNexis, but I got a much longer list of results to read through.

    10 U.S. Code § 152 (Dec. 4, 1987) . Cornell University Law School. Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/152?qt-us_code_tabs=1#qt-us_code_tabs on April 29, 2014.

    General Martin E. Dempsey. (2014).   Joint Chiefs of Staff. Retrieved from http://www.jcs.mil/Leadership/ArticleView/tabid/3893/Article/774/general-martin-e-dempsey.aspx on April 22, 2014.

  1. What can you tell me about Public Law No: 109-188?

    By using Proquest’s Legislative Insight I found that this law was passed March 20, 2006 and it “redesignate[d] the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1927 Sangamon Avenue in Springfield, Illinois, as the “J.M. Dietrich Northeast Annex.”

    Here’s the page my search yielded:

    I tried looking for J.M. Dietrich in Marquis Who was Who, Biography in Context, Wikipedia and the Springfield newspaper, with no luck. The patron didn’t ask for that information, so I didn’t pursue that search. I do like the idea of providing a little extra to patrons.

    PL109-188, ( March 20, 2006). Proquest Legislative Index. Retrieved on April 22, 2014 from http://www.conquest-leg-insight.com/legislativeinsight/LegHistMain.jsp?searchtype=DOCPAGE&parentAccNo=109-188&docAccNo=109-188&docType=LEG_HIST&id=1398171456680.


  1. I have a patron who is about to take the US citizenship exam.  What types of questions are likely to be on the test?

    I went to USA.gov as I expected it would have this information and it did.

    U.S. citizenship study materials, including sample questions, may be found here: http://www.uscis.gov/citizenship/learners/study-test.

    I trust this information because the government runs this site and makes the test. Users don’t need to pay a fee and there’s no commercial interest involved

    Study for the Test. (2014). USA.gov. Web. Retrieved from http://www.uscis.gov/citizenship/learners/study-test on April 19, 2014.

  2. I would like to find a ranking of states in terms of the quality of public education.  Does the US Department of Education compile this kind of information?

    I went to ed.gov and then to http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/states/. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) allows users to compare its data by state. You can select various criteria (e.g. year, subject, student group, grade 4, 8 or 12) and see national data and data for each state. Moreover, you can download the data to Excel.

    NAEP State Comparisons. (2014). National Center for Educational Statistics. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/statecomparisons/ on April 19, 2014

    My favorite government sources are the Library of Congress and the National Archives, where I can explore for hours. I enjoyed exploring the archives’ Citizen Archivist page, blogs and more. On the LOC’s site I liked Today in History, the collections of prints and photos, and the digitized old children’s books.

The above hasn’t been corrected so I’m not sure how well I did.

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