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Examination of these pages will reveal an unexpectedly large number of subjects which have a public interest quite apart from mere legislation. For instance, the various special reports which supplemented the statistical volumes of the last Census; the Reports, Monographs and Bulletins of the Geological Survey; the Contributions, Collections and Reports of the Smithsonian Institution, and Bureau of Ethnology; the results of investigations by the Fish Commission; the accounts of several expeditions to the Arctic seas; the publications of the Patent Office; the various issues of the Bureau of Navigation and of the Coast Survey office-all these and others are esteemed and sought after by scholars in every part of the civilized world.
It continues to be a matter of regret that the public is not permitted to acquire Government publications at a nominal cost. Occasionally Congress authorizes the sale of some particular work of supposed interest, but as advertisement in such instances is made only through the medium of the Congressional Record (printed during the session of Congress), the information reaches comparatively but a small number of people, and the edition remains largely in stock. There is also a provision of law whereby one or more copies may be secured in advance of publication by paying the estimated cost. This facility is chiefly valuable to those living in the neighborhood of the public printing office, and is practically of little importance, as the Government issues no bulletin of proposed publications aside from the information contained in the Annual Report of the Public Printer.
The officials in the various Departments in Washington have afforded the writer facilities without which it would be a difficult task to lay before the public a monthly statement of what may appropriately be called the Official Literature of the Government.