It looks as though the lifetime achievement award bestowed upon Statistical Abstract of the United States at this past ALA midwinter awards was premature. Dismaying librarians, the government announced last year that publication of the demographics powerhouse would cease with the 2012 issue. Today, however, database aggregator ProQuest announced that it will continue publication of the work‚ in print and online‚ with the 2013 issue, meaning that there will be no gap in coverage.
Content will come, according to ProQuest, from the same hundreds of public and private sources that the Census Bureau’s disbanded Statistical Compendia division used. In a small number of instances, the company explains, the same data may not be available, and in those cases the Abstract will provide other, similar data from similar sources. As for the State and Metropolitan Area Data Book and the County and City Data Book that previously supplemented the work, ProQuest says that it has not ruled out production of those titles but at the moment has no plans to publish them.
Joyce Fedeczko, Information Resources Director at BP, says, “I’m thankful that librarians and library clients will continue to have the invaluable ‘Stat Ab’ available to check basic statistical information. It is trusted and respected and has been a solid quick reference for experts and non-experts for years.”
In print since 1878, Statistical Abstract offers an annually updated array of statistics on all aspects of life in the United States, as well as some international data. The new print work, published in partnership with Bernan Press, an imprint of Rowman and Littlefield, will offer roughly the same number of tables as in past editions, according to ProQuest. The company, which already employs 25 statistical editors at its Bethesda, MD, office, will issue the work with detailed bibliographic documentation, an updated index, and updated introductory sections.
ProQuest adds that the online version of the work will include monthly updates to tables, deep searching at the line-item level, powerful facets for narrowing search results, image and spreadsheet versions of all current and historical tables, along with links to provider sites. It will be available as a stand-alone product or as part of ProQuest’s preexisting Statistical Insight database, which covers subjects in economics, business, market research, and the social sciences.
The new mode of online access is a change, of course, and not one that all librarians are happy about. Stephen Francoeur, User Experience Librarian at Newman Library, Baruch College, NY, comments that, I am at the same time happy to hear that this invaluable and essential reference source will continue to be published and saddened that yet another portion of the knowledge commons freely shared by all on the web is about to be fenced off and fronted by a ticket window.” He goes on to suggest, “If ProQuest really wants to earn some goodwill, it should consider maintaining open access to the web version. The company expects to announce pricing in April.