Monthly Archives: December 2012

Resource Spotlight – Ashley Jester

Please welcome Ashley Jester, the new Data Services Coordinator in the Social Sciences Libraries!  Ashley holds a PhD from Stanford in Political Science with advanced specializations in international relations, organizational behavior, and political economy.  She's here to assist you with your research, from the initial steps of background research and finding data to analysis and interpretation of data.  She's great with Excel, STATA, SPSS, R, and you can find her staffing the reference desks at the Digital Social Science Center (DSSC) and Data Services in Lehman Library.  She's also available for individual/small group meetings and consultations, so don't hesitate to call upon Ashley!, (212) 854-0514

Journalism Library Hours Friday, December 14th

The Journalism Library will be closed Friday, December 14th from 1:00-4:00pm to accommodate an event but will be reopen for regular business hours from 4:00-6:00pm.  Thank you for your cooperation.  If you need research assistance earlier in the day, please send email to: or visit Lehman Social Sciences Library.

Socio-economic Data by Tract and Zip Code

The U.S. Census Bureau has released the 2011 American Community Survey (ACS) 5 year estimates file.  It provides a socio-economic description of the U.S. population based on survey responses gathered over 5 years: 2007-2011.  The five year span allows for reporting to the sub-county levels of tract and ZCTA (the Bureau's approximation of Zip Code).   This is the Census Bureau's first release of population data at the ZCTA level since the 2002 release of data from Census 2000.

Data from the ACS covers topics designed to describe the U.S. population.  The three of the files released annually from the ACS: the 1 year, 3 year and 5 year estimates, differ only in their geographic coverage. All cover the same wide range of topics: demographic data like age, race, and Hispanic origin; social indicators like education, household type, language, and ancestry; and economic indicators like income, poverty status, and occupation.


For more information about this release and the American Community Survey visit the ACS website or the DSSC American Community Survey web page.

The ACS data has been released via the Census Bureau's data portal, American FactFinder (AFF). For help with navigating the AFF web site refer to our guide Using American FactFinder with the ACS or contact the Digital Social Science Data Service at

The Crowded Satellite Orbits

Go outside the city on a clear night, away from the artificial lights, and look up into the skies. What do you see? Are all of those millions of points of lights stars? Some of them may be reflected light from orbiting satellites. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists Satellite Database, there are currently 1016 operating satellites orbiting the earth: civil, commercial, government and military. But there are an additional 22,000 items of "space junk" large enough to be tracked by NASA and an estimated tens of millions of smaller particles of space debris. The space junk poses significant problems for operational satellites and the International Space Station, as detailed in a report issued in 2001 by the National Research Council, Limiting Future Collision Risk to Spacecraft: An Assessment of NASA's Meteoroid and Orbital Debris Programs.

Space junk is not the only problem facing the U.S. satellite program. Two satellite acquisition programs within the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R) programs, are meant to replace current operational satellites, and both are considered critical to the United States’ ability to maintain the continuity of data required for weather forecasting. Both programs have been the focus of criticism, including several reports by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), on June 15, 2012, June 16, 2012, and June 27, 2012. The data obtained by these satellite programs is crucial for weather forecasting, which promises to be as turbulent in the future as it has this year.

The U.S. military satellite program, although highly classified, is also threatened by space debris. The National Security Space Strategy recognizes all of these issues and makes recommendations to "inform future planning, programming, acquisition, operations and analysis guidance." Look up!