geo Internet Review: International Information Programs

TITLE: International Information Programs


The U.S. State Department's International Information Programs site offers an intriguing gateway to current issues and events in the fields of foreign affairs, diplomacy and national security. Undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, policy specialists and researchers can review timely briefings on global affairs that carry the authority of an official U.S. Government site. Created in 1999, the Office of International Information Programs (IIP) is described as the "principal international strategic communications service for the foreign affairs community," and this site offers a variety of useful resources ranging from transcripts and interviews to backgrounders and document links.

IIP's site has a clearly organized and user-friendly layout that features six main category headings. Students pursuing research topics will most likely be drawn to the categories "U.S. Policy" and "Issues in Focus," which offer a wealth of resources. For example, the "Global Issues" subheading includes topics such as Climate Change, HIV/AIDS, and Refugees. Each provides links to the full text of many State Department documents and other resources such as background statements, reports, Congressional resolutions and international organizations. The six geographic areas in the "Regions" category offer the user a similarly impressive display of resources. The "Near East" section offers an extensive guide to "Middle East Peace," transcripts of Secretary Powell's Middle East press conferences, a fact-finding report, and a Middle East Peace Process chronology. These clusters of resources arranged by popular headings are one of the site's main strengths, since they pull together background information as well as primary source material needed by academic library users.

Users should note this site offers full-text publications in several languages. Five full-text journals are available, highlighting policy issues such as economics, democracy and global affairs; current editions as well as archives are provided. Faculty and students who follow specialized international topics may also benefit from e-mail delivery of transcripts, speeches and briefings, offered for several subject areas. There is also a section providing excerpts of foreign media reaction to U.S. events. Academic librarians will also appreciate the up-to-date "Public Diplomacy Calendar" that provides a timely list of upcoming worldwide conferences, summits, meetings and official visits.

This site offers ease of use, currency, and a variety of full-text resources that will be appreciated by those involved in the foreign affairs field. Commercial databases such as CIAO and PAIS obviously lead the way as standard tools for international topics, but academic librarians with strong foreign affairs collections will find that IIP's site offers timely and well organized documentary material.

Barbara Hillson
George Mason University

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