By Amy Lapidow (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In trying to decide the focus of this column, I was overwhelmed by the many aspects of The Guild and the varied interests of its members. I thought of how I use The Web, what I want to be there, what is actually there, and where I go to start looking for information. I decided that I tend to start at CoOL (http://palimpsest.stanford.edu) or The Book Arts Web (http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey), and most people would probably start there too. So I decided to show sites that are of interest but maybe are not anyone's first thought for information. If you have any suggestions of theme, interests, or sites for this column feel free to email me at: alapidow@ opal.tufts.edu.
The U.S. government has seemingly put a lot of time, money and effort into its various web sites. The sites are large, comprehensive, and fairly easy to use. Many sites include search engines to aid in information retrieval, and a majority are updated daily. The addresses are easy to guess, usually http://www.abbreviation.gov. Comprehensive entries into the government sites can be found at Fedword (http://www.fedworld.gov) and Villa Nova University (http://www.law.vill.edu/Fed-Agency).
Under the Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service is the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (http:// atsdr1.atsdr.cdc.gov:8080/atsdrhome.html). This registry contains Toxfaqs and Public Health Statements covering health information from exposure to chemicals. The registry is searchable in two modes, literal and advanced. Each entry provides the chemical structure of the substance in either a GIF or 3D viewer file plus, in comprehensible language, a definition of the compound, exposure information, uses, safety recommendations, and contacts for additional information.
There are several patent sites available free to search on The Web. The two I use the most are from The U.S. Patent Office (http://www.uspto.gov) and IBM (http://patent.womplex.ibm.com). These are both easily searchable and have online sources to order the actual patent, for a fee (many large libraries also have patents available to photocopy in their government documents sections). For the last 2 years I found several related items, these ranged from a new formulation of PVA to a plate mounter for flexible printing plates for letterpress work. Each document includes the patent number, name of the inventor, the company, an abstract of the patent, and references to other patents on which this work is built or related to, but different than.
On a related topic is the Copyright Office at The Library of Congress (http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright) . Here one can find the rules and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about copyright and copyright procedures. There is fax on demand to order copyright information, and downloadable registration forms with instructions to apply for a copyright.
Be aware that these forms are in PDF format. That means you need another piece of software in order to read/print the forms. This piece of software is freely downloadable, is called Adobe Acrobat, and whenever a site requires its use, a link is available to the Adobe site to get it. (Web editors' note: Click here if you can't wait to get Acrobat Reader.) You only need to download it once in order to read any PDF file. Be advised that these files are very slow to print. Also be aware that if you use FTP to obtain a PDF file, set your FTP to BINARY or Adobe will not be able to read the file once you get it. I learned that after 3 days of yelling at my computer.
Other helpful forms available from the U.S. government are tax forms. The Internal Revenue Service (http://www.irs.gov) has made its forms available as downloadable PDF files on its web site. Forms are available from 1992 forward and there are links to other tax related sites, including individual state tax agencies.