Affordable Learning With Government Documents

One of the best things public libraries do is help people get their schooling after they've left school. Whether they were in traditional schools, homeschools or charter schools, are school dropouts or adult lifelong learners, all readers can find an entire education in a good public library. And one of the best and cheapest resources for learners is government information. It's reliable, it's in the public domain, and it is free.

K-12 and homeschool teachers should know that many government agencies provide ready-to-use classroom materials. Most is targeted to K-12, but primary sources also are good for high school, college, and adult learners. Most agency websites, plus usa.gov, opens a new window, have direct links to ready-to-use educational resources.

In addition to general information, individual agencies may concentrate on types of content, like multimedia, statistical data, opens a new window, legal resources, or peer-reviewed research articles.

A significant benefit of using government information is the chance to learn about history from a variety of perspectives. Cultural agencies like the Library of Congress, opens a new window or the 21 museums that form the Smithsonian Institution, opens a new window provide ready-made primary source materials for all ages.

All kinds of STEM topics are covered by the science agencies. Here are some examples. 

Government information is great for study of the law, opens a new window and how the government works, opens a new window. And how many native-born Americans can pass the citizenship test, opens a new window demanded of immigrants? If not, there are study guides, opens a new window for that.

So, if you want your research to be more than a quick google search, try a government resource! Many digitized government publications are available through the library's catalog, opens a new window. And usa.gov, opens a new window is a good portal to sites for getting started in lifelong learning.

(Thanks to Kelly Bilz, Reference & Government Documents Librarian at The Benedictine Library, for inspiration.)

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