Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Database Alert: STAT-USA Shutting Down

We very seldom cancel databases we have consciously selected, but in the case of STAT-USA, a government database providing business-related product, economic and trade information, the database has decided to cancel itself....greatly inconveniencing us and all the rest of its clients.

The database will cease operations at the end of this month, September 30, 2010.

A message from the database director read, in part: "After more than 25 years of operation, STAT-USA is closing its doors. This was not an easy decision, but the world of access to government information has evolved to the point that STAT-USA’s business model, as a fee for service office, is no longer viable. In its early years, STAT-USA was on the progressive edge of government data delivery. Its mandate from Congress, to serve as a central collection and delivery mechanism for economic and trade information from all the federal agencies, was a much-needed innovation. Since then, the Internet and information technology in general have grown and changed at dazzling speed. Information sharing, data tools, and social media have become intrinsic parts of American life. In this new atmosphere, STAT-USA/Internet’s historic role as a straightforward storehouse of static government information releases has become outdated. "

Those of us who have had to use STAT-USA over the years were indeed often frustrated (as the above implies) by the platform's very user-unfriendly interface and the often dated nature of the materials accessed.

Since much of the material from STAT-USA is and always has been available for free, on the web, from the government, you might want to make use of the Google search engine just for government and military websites, called Uncle Sam, when you are looking for government information on anything from olive oil imports to trade with Senegal to the Federal Reserve Bank's "Beige Book." The Uncle Sam results will often be unwieldy and sloppy--but so were the results in STAT-USA! Another good option is to look at the targeted resources cited in our library guides--like Sonia's on International Trade and Connie's on Economics.

If you actually like STAT-USA, do make use of it while it lasts, over the next couple of weeks. And we will continue to keep our eyes out for an affordable alternative database.

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