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June 9, 2008

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10 Jewels Lurking in USA.gov

By Shirl Kennedy, Senior Editor
Resource Shelf

1. Motherlode of Maps — This aggregation of maps available from a diverse range of government agencies is loosely organized by topic:

Community
Environmental
Health
Historical
Space
United States
Weather
Where to Buy U.S. Government Maps
World

2. FAQs by Agency and Program — Aggregation of FAQ documents from dozens of federal agencies. Arranged alphabetically, from Administration for Children and Families to Women’s Health.

3. Blogs from the U.S. Government (both active and archived). In all honesty, though, the fishing is better at U.S. Government RSS Library. Or, if you prefer audio, Podcasts from the U.S. Government. If you’re e-mail-oriented, you can peruse an extensive listing of Government E-mail Newsletters…and subscribe to as many as you want, all from this one page.

4. The Federal Citizen Information Center “provides a gateway to news and press release websites throughout the U.S. Government.” Nice.

5. Forms.gov. “The Forms Catalog provides citizens and businesses with a common access point to federal agency forms.” Who knew? Search or browse; several options available. A “Frequently Used Forms” list on the lefthand side of the page provides quick links to Tax Forms, Small Business Forms, Social Security Forms, Veteran Benefit Forms, and FEMA Forms.

6. International Travel. A collection of links to relevant information at different government agency websites — mostly the Department of State (e.g., Travel.State.gov), but there are a couple of surprises, such as this International Long Distance Calling resource from the Federal Communications Commission and health information for travelers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

7. Calendars, Important Dates, and Time. Very cool assortment of links to things like information about U.S holidays, a historic events calendar (with lesson plans for teachers), NASA’s space calendar, an online presentation from the National Institute for Standards & Technology about ancient calendars, and a world time zone map, from the U.S. Naval Observatory.

8. A collection of links to photo galleries at official state government websites. All 50 states are represented.

9. Government and Public Libraries. Links to “(n)ational, federal agency, and local libraries; online library databases; grants and benefits for libraries…”. Note that some of the links here lead to libraries of information rather than…actual libraries — e.g., this Emergency Planning and Business Continuity page from Ready.gov. And here’s a Registry of U.S. Government Publication Digitization Projects which, among other things, “(s)erves as a locator tool for publicly accessible collections of digitized U.S. Government publications.”

10. Get It Done Online!. “Access U.S. government services from your computer” — more than 100! Note that on this page — as well as most other USA.gov pages with collections of links — there’s a button at the top that you can click to receive an e-mail when the page is updated.

Want to keep up with what’s new on the USA.gov site itself? Well, we like the RSS feed. There are also a number of USA.gov-specific e-mail newsletters.

Handheld wireless device users may want to bookmark USA.gov mobile.