The Statistical Abstract’s fate gets some attention from mainstream media

Finally, the possibility of the Statistical Abstract being killed is getting some attention from people other than librarians.

Don’t kill America’s databook, Op-Ed by Robert J. Samuelson, Washington Post, Aug. 21:

It can be argued that much of what’s in the Stat Abstract is online somewhere. True — but irrelevant. Many government and private databases are hard to access and search, even if you know what you want. Often, you don’t. The Stat Abstract has two great virtues. First, it conveniently presents in one place a huge amount of information from a vast array of government and private sources. For example, the National Fire Protection Association tells us that 30,170 fire departments fought 1.45 million fires in 2008. Second, the footnotes show where to get more information.

Save the Statistical Abstract, blog post by Paul Krugman, New York Times, Aug. 22:

I don’t usually find myself in hearty agreement with Robert Samuelson, but he’s right about this. The Statistical Abstract is a hugely important resource; experts in a particular field may not need it, but it’s invaluable to non-experts in need of basic information.

Killing the publication for the sake of a tiny saving would be a truly gratuitous step toward a dumbed-down country. And believe me, that’s not something we need more of.

Policy experts howl over stat abstract’s death sentence, Reuters, Aug. 24:

A cost-cutting plan by the Census Bureau to kill off its Statistical Abstract was under fire this week from pundits and policy experts who rely on the annual collection of census data.

Published since 1878 and now nearly 1,000 pages, the abstract summarizes key metrics — some weighty and some just interesting — on the social, political and economic shape of the United States and beyond.

Census Bureau Wants to Kill Statistical Abstract, Science magazine, Aug. 31:

The Statistical Abstract of the United States is a free, fact-filled compendium of miscellaneous data that has been published by the U.S. Census Bureau annually since 1878. But it appears headed for the trash heap.

[Note: It’s free online, but if you want a printed copy, it’ll cost you $39 for the paperback, more for hardback, less for CD-ROM.]

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