The best federal blog you've never heard of

Thursday - 5/6/2010, 11:55am EDT

Davita Vance Cooks, Managing Director of Publication & Information Sales, GPO

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

It might be hard to believe that the word "blog" didn't exist a little over ten years ago. It seems sometimes that all you hear is "blogblogblog, blahblahblah", but...

The federal government has one that's really special.

Government BookTalk, reviews new and popular publications from the federal government.

And yes, there really are "popular" publications from the federal government.

Davita Vance Cooks, Managing Director of Publication & Information Sales at the Government Printing Office, told Federal News Radio the blog she oversees has a major task: "We want to change the image of government publications. You know people tend to think of government publications as stuffy and dry and, believe it or not, they're far from it."

While many of the publications GPO offers are relevant, timely and informative, Cooks points out "we actually have real books for real people."

Cooks walked us through four of the blog entries.

Navy Medicine in Vietnam: Passage to Freedom to the Fall of Saigon
Cooks said this one is chock full of oral histories from nurses and surgeons about what it's like to practice medicine in the field. "It's just gripping reading."

Occupational Outlook Handbook
Issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It's referred to repeatedly on the blog as "OOH" and "talks about every job imaginable."

Dr. Seuss, U.S. Army

"One of my favorite blogs," said Cooks. According to govbooktalk, the 36 page booklet "Meet Ann…She's Dying to Meet You" is "about the perils of contracting malaria from the Anopheles mosquito." The cartoonist was Dr. Seuss when he was Captain Ted Geisel, U.S. Army.

Just for Fun: Aunt Sammy's Radio Recipes
This one is particularly popular, said to Cooks. According to the blog, "On October 4, 1926, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Bureau of Home Economics and the Radio Service launched its Housekeeper's Chat show, featuring Aunt Sammy - Uncle Sam's wife". The most popular recipes from the radio show were printed in 1927. "The demand was so great," said Cooks, "that it had (reprinted) one month later." And with recipes like "Fried Apples and Bacon" how could it not be popular?

Reception for the GovBookTalk blog is nearly as popular. "Every agency we have picked, every agency, is 100 percent positive about the blog that we're putting up for them," said Cooks. Librarians, academics, and "lots of people who just enjoy hearing about what we're blogging about" have also voiced their support to the GPO.

The books are available from the GPO's online bookstore at bookstore.gpo.gov.