Monday, September 12, 2016

Directories of Governments and Non-Governmental Organizations

Pop quiz: which book in the library contains an organization chart for the U.S. Coast Guard, lists of current congressional committees and their membership, and contact information for the National Pasta Association? You'll probably never need all three of those things at once, but you should know that you can find them all in the Washington Information Directory, whose 2016-2017 edition has just landed in the Reference Collection on level 3.

Published since 1975, the Washington Information Directory compiles contact information and descriptive summaries about governmental and non-governmental organizations in and around the nation's capital. Organized by topics (such as Law and Justice) and subtopics (such as Criminal Law, or Constitutional Law and Civil Liberties), each subsection includes lists of government agencies and non-governmental organizations, along with a brief description of their missions and public contact information. The directory is an interesting way to discover relevant governmental, professional, and non-governmental organizations in a particular area of interest. The Goodson Law Library keeps only the current year of this directory, although historical editions are available elsewhere on campus.

Duke University provides access to other directories of government agencies and non-governmental organizations. For federal government agencies, some excellent sources to review are:
  • The United States Government Manual (Ref Docs. AE 2.108/2: or online)
  • Federal Regulatory Directory (Ref. JK610 .F29).
  • State governments often publish directories of their agencies and offices as well. Although not always the official title, these are often nicknamed "Blue Books" (not to be confused with the legal citation manual). The American Library Association's Government Documents Round Table has compiled a helpful list of State Government Blue Books and Encyclopedias, which can be invaluable sources of information about state government offices.

Another helpful source for locating contact information about organizations is the Leadership Library on the Internet, available to current members of the Duke University community with NetID and password. The online Leadership Library contains updated versions of the popular "Yellow Book" print directory series (e.g., Federal Yellow Book, Judicial Yellow Book). Leadership Library provides more detail about members of an organization than other general directories, including personal email addresses and direct telephone extensions.

For non-governmental organizations, another great starting place is the Encyclopedia of Associations, available online in the Gale Directory Library. This set is published in three volumes: National Organizations of the U.S., International Organizations, and Regional, State and Local Organizations. A search of all three for "pasta" would return the same National Pasta Association in the Washington Information Directory, as well as four additional organizations in the United Kingdom, Spain, and – where else? – Italy.

Need help finding information about a government agency or a non-governmental organization? Be sure to Ask a Librarian.