When the federal government shut down on Tuesday, some important research sites became unavailable. Among the sites that have gone dark:
- Census.gov and its companion site American Factfinder;
- the National Center for Education Statistics;
- the FedStats directory;
- the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) (you can still search this database via EBSCO, but some of the full text links that go to ERIC will fail)
- American Memory and other projects from the Library of Congress
In the library we frequently encourage students to go to these sites to support their arguments when writing papers and preparing oral presentations. In particular it is difficult to find substitutes for the vast amount of statistical data the federal government collects and makes available to the public.
We do have a couple alternative strategies to suggest.
First, we recently started a subscription to the ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the United States. The Statistical Abstract used to be a government publication, provided for free on the Web until it was defunded a couple years ago. Ironically, librarians loudly opposed its privatization, but if it were still public it may well have gone dark this week. Please recommend it to your students, and we will do the same. You can find it on the Research Databases page.
Second, some of the above sites are still partially accessible via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Enter e.g. census.gov in the input box, select a recent date, and you will be able to get to some of the content. Be warned: at times you may get redirected to the current shutdown page, so this might be a frustrating experience.
But who isn’t frustrated by this whole thing?