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Friday Facts: Government Information You Can Use

This Week's Facts:

  1. Census of Governments Tracks Public Expenditures

  2. FDsys Serves as Portal to Federal Government Information

  3. State Fair Celebrates Year of the Soybean in 2011

Document of the Month: Annual Report of the Indiana State Board of Agriculture

This month’s document is dedicated to the Indiana State Fair! The Indiana State Fair’s origins begin with the Indiana State Board of Agriculture. In a Circular dated June 4, 1851, the State Board expressed its desire to hold a State Fair. The Board believed that holding a State Fair would place Indiana in a distinguished position among the first agricultural states in the Union. These annual reports contain Indiana’s agricultural history and some interesting information about agriculture in Indiana. The reports contain proceedings of the Board meetings which offer a procedural account of the ‘business of agriculture’ in Indiana at its earliest conception. County Agricultural Societies were formed and each county provided a detailed report about their various crops, issues, premiums awarded, treasurers’ reports, and other items that may be of interest to historians or anyone interested in Indiana’s farming/agricultural history. Marion County’s Agricultural Society was organized on September 9, 1851; the first elected President was Calvin Fletcher of American Fletcher National Bank. In 1901, the State Board received official laws from the Legislation that gave the Board powers to hold State Fairs, purchase lands, and provided tax exempt status for the real and personal estate of the Board. These and other interesting facts can be found in the annual reports, available in the Indiana Collection at the Indiana State Library under call number I 630 I for the years 1851 through 1976.  


Friday Facts Editorial Team:

Katharine Springer
State Data Center Coordinator

Elisabeth O’Donnell
Federal Documents Librarian

Kim Brown-Harden
State Documents Coordinator

Indiana Federal Depository Library Program

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Census of Governments Tracks Public Expenditures

US Census Summary FileThe first data from the Census of Governments are scheduled for release beginning in August 2012. We in the data biz are glad, since these data provide the only nationwide, comprehensive tally of the number and types of government units and what they spend our tax money on.  These data allow apples-to-apples comparisons of government spending across an array of services that include schools, police, fire, road, highway and other government functions. 

Before we can use the data though, the actual Census must be taken. The Census of Governments will begin October of 2011 with the mailing of the Government Units Survey.  That survey will collect descriptive information on the basic characteristics of local governments in preparation for the 2012 Census of Governments. 

Data from this survey will also be used to produce the official count of local government units and to update and verify the mailing addresses of government units. In 2012, the Census Bureau will also request data on the employment and finances of state and local governments.

Is this required?  Yes.  Under Title 13, Section 161, the Census of Governments has been conducted for years ending in “2” and “7” since 1957.  The Census of Governments provides the only source of comprehensive, uniform statistics on the economic activity of state and local governments that:

  • Identifies the scope and nature of state and local government;

  • Provides authoritative benchmark figures of public finance and public employment;

  • Classifies local government organizations, powers and activities; and

  • Measures federal, state, and local fiscal relationships.

Following the activity of governments over time tells a compelling story of the fiscal condition of federal, state, and local government.  And in the end, should help policy makers make informed decisions about government service and spending.

Questions?  Let the Indiana Data Center folks know by emailing Katie Springer ( or Carol Rogers (  You can also go straight to the Census Bureau or visit the Governments web page at  

FDsys Serves as Portal to Federal Government Information

FDsysIf you have patrons looking for official information on the current budgetary problems in the federal government, don’t forget to refer them to FDsys! FDsys is the Government Printing Office’s official portal to government information. It recently replaced GPO’s earlier system, GPO Access. FDsys is a one-stop shop for citizens looking for federal information, particularly that on the legislative side. You can go here to look at authentic versions of bills, laws, the Congressional Record, and more. It also provides access to non-legislative materials, such as the Federal Register, the Public Papers of the President, and Economic Indicators. It dates back to about 1994; you can browse by publication and by date. It’s a great place to go for the most current information. Does your patron want to read the text of the budget bill, S.365? Go here. Are they interested in what their Senator or Representative had to say? Send them to the Congressional Record to view the debates and daily goings-on of Congress. You can even check out the History of the Bill. When you use FDsys, you know the information is accurate – these documents have been certified by the Superintendent of Documents. Patrons wanting to look at an official copy of legislation – whether it has to do with the budget or something else entirely – will find FDsys extremely helpful.

State Fair Celebrates Year of the Soybean in 2011

Indiana State FairLemon Shake ups, deep-fried concoctions, rides, and animals. It must be time for the Indiana State Fair! The State Fair runs August 5th through August 21st. The fair marks the end of summer and back-to-school time for many students. This year is the Year of the Soybean, so get ready to sample all things soybean or soybean-related. If you’d like to know more about this versatile food or to find out more about Indiana’s agricultural economy, visit the Indiana State Department of Agriculture’s website. While you’re at the fair, join the Indiana State Library, the Indiana Department of Natural resources, and other State Agencies for Hoosier Heritage Day on Thursday, August 11th.

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