Documents to Explore for Freedom of Information Day

US Capitol Building on Bright Blue Background

Hannon Library observes Freedom of Information Day by commemorating the birthday of the fourth president of the United States, James Madison, and focusing on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Many government documents are already publicly available to view at Hannon Library and online, but the FOIA enables individuals to request access to other records from federal agencies. 

book cover for James Madison by Jeff BroadwaterThe “Father of the United States Constitution,” James Madison

Often regarded as a supporter of openness in government and public access to government information, James Madison Jr. was born on March 16, 1751. The anniversary of his birth is the reason Freedom of Information Day is celebrated on March 16 each year. For an ebook about his life, consider reading James Madison: A Son of Virginia and a Founder of the Nation by Jeff Broadwater online.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 

Why care about the Freedom of Information Act? The FOIA promotes transparency and requires that federal government agencies share information requested under the FOIA unless it meets one of the nine exemptions permitted. If you’re interested in requesting information from a government agency, learning more about the FOIA and how to take advantage of it, consider checking out this FAQ

To dive deeper into the inner workings of the FOIA, you might consider taking a look at the Freedom of Information Act Guide online or view the physical copy at Hannon Library. This document covers details about fees and fee waivers, information about all nine exemptions, litigation considerations, and more. 

If you want to further your understanding of the more recent history of the FOIA, you can access fairly recent congressional committee hearings concerning the FOIA. Check out Ensuring Transparency Through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a hearing before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that took place on June 2, 2015. You can view the physical copy or take a look at it online

Another document you might be interested in is Open Government and Freedom of Information: Reinvigorating the Freedom of Information Act for the Digital Age, which details the hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate that occurred on March 11, 2014. You can access this document online or in Hannon Library

You can find many other resources related to the FOIA at Hannon Library. SOU’s Hannon Library is a Federal Depository Library, so many Government Publications you may be interested in are easily accessible through our LibGuide. If you’re having trouble finding what you’re looking for, our qualified librarians can help you. To receive assistance, you can chat with a librarian during Chat Research hours or submit a message to Ask a Librarian anytime.