Regional Report 2007-2008: United States

IASSIST Regional Report 2007-2008
United States
Pam Baxter
Cornell University
May 2008

National Statistical Agencies

Last year’s regional report began with the stir regarding Census Bureau leadership. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Steven Murdock was confirmed as Director in December, 13 months after his predecessor announced his intention to resign. Jay Waite, a 38-year employee of the Bureau appointed Deputy Director and in February 2007, retired in May 2008. Thomas Mesenbourg, another long-time Census employee, was appointed to the role on an interim basis. Census leadership has been a frequent visitor to Capitol Hill, putting forth requests for supplemental funding for a Census less than 2 years away. This as the Bureau decided to shelve use of hand-held computers for non-response followup and struggles to cope with increasing costs while implementing the 2008 Census Dress Rehearsal and the Economic Census.

More than one well-known, national survey was saved from extinction over the past year. Funding for SIPP was secured in mid-2007. A variety of funders (Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, and the American Association of Retired Persons) stepped forward to save the National Household Travel Survey, which began in 1969.

National Data Projects

In August, the Data-PASS Project received funding from the Library of Congress to extend its work for an additional 18 months. DataPASS participants presented at a variety of professional and scholarly venues, including the American Library Association (June 2007, Washington), Society of American Archivists (August 2007, Chicago), the e-Social Science Conference (October 2007, Ann Arbor), and is scheduled for this summer’s American Sociological Association meeting in Boston.

Developments in IASSIST Members’ Institutions

The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research established its new residence at the University of Connecticut this year, with its board of directors signing a five year agreement to maintain the Center in Storrs. The Roper Center’s membership family has expanded significantly during the last year with forty new members since last summer. The Center focused its acquisitions efforts on international collections. More than 500 United States Information Agency surveys were acquired from NARA and the Department of State as part of the Data-PASS partnership. Much of this collection has been processed and available via RoperExpress download. During the year, Roper took steps to advance its collection of Latin American datasets by signing an agreement with CIDE of Mexico City. It will also seek funding to update and acquire new collections of survey materials from this region.

Transitions, Recognitions, and Professional Activities

San Cannon (Federal Reserve Bank) recently presented on the topic of RSS-CB specification in Geneva at the UNECE Statistical Commission Work Session on Dissemination and Communication. The paper extended the work presented at the IASSIST meeting in Montreal last year.

An article co-authored by Libbie Stephenson (with UCLA colleague Patti Caravello) was chosen as Highly Commended as an Outstanding Paper of 2008. Awarded by the Emerald Literati Network, content of the article first came to the attention of IASSIST as a paper presentation at Montreal in May 2007. Its published form appeared as “Incorporating data literacy into undergraduate information literacy programs in the social sciences: A pilot project” (Reference Services Review; Volume: 35 Issue: 4; 2007).

Katherine McNeill (MIT) serves on the Advisory Committee for the Data Curation Education Program at the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

Wendy Thomas (University of Minnesota) chaired the Technical Implementation Committee of the DDI Alliance. The Committee produced 4 versions of the DDI 3.0 Candidate review, and the final 3.0 version which was accepted for publication in April. Wendy wrote the draft version of DDI Technical Specification Part II: User’s Guide for Candidate Review and updated both Part I: Overview and Part II: User Guide for the final version. With Arofan Gregory (Aeon Consulting) and Joachim Wackero (GESIS-ZUMA), she created and presented a DDI 3.0 workshop for technical implementers and production staff at GESIS-ZUMA.

I’m sorry to close this report on a sad note: IASSIST member Jim Ovitt, Government Data Librarian at the University of North Carolina, passed away on April 20 at age 51. Before entering the field of library science, he spent nearly 20 years in the media industry in New York as a producer and director of documentary and industrial films. Jim was a valued and respected colleague.