Grace Barnas, Pat Rowe, and Judy Banister were our most gracious hosts at the Census Bureau International Library. Grace gave us a tour of the library which houses data and statistics on many countries of the world. Their library is quite extensive, especially the Russian section (although not cataloged).
The library is split (physically) into three sections: Former Soviet Republics; China, Laos, and Vietnam (this section has economic data); and the General section.
There are a couple of problems that the International Library is facing. It is becoming more difficult to obtain the census from other countries. It is the cost of paper, postage, technology, and cultures that is making it more difficult. Let me explain the last two items. More countries are making use of technology by having the census put on CD-ROM. These countries usually contract the work and the contractors will not allow the governments to give the CD-ROMs away for free (in the past, if the US gave another country our census -- they in turn would give us theirs). Some of the CD-ROMs are expensive and the International Library (as many of us are facing as well) cannot afford to purchase all the CD-ROMs. Some countries are becoming aware that information is power and are more concerned about giving this information to the US.
There is also a positive side to technology. Through the internet, more countries are making their census available through ftp or allowing you to extract the specific information you are looking for.
This tour was very informative. I would like to take this time to thank everyone at the Census Bureau International Library for their time and generosity.
Penn State Population Research Institute
601 Oswald Tower
University Park, PA 16802