The Government Domain: Homeland Security Collections

By Peggy Garvin, Published on May 20, 2006

Peggy Garvin of Garvin Information Consulting is author of The United States Government Internet Manual (Bernan Press) and contributing author for The Congressional Deskbook, 2005-2007 (TheCapitol.Net).


"Homeland security" is a term that only became common in the United States after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The National Strategy for Homeland Security, released by the White House in July 2002, provides this definition of the term on page 2:

Homeland security is a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur.

In practice, homeland security involves every level of government. It encompasses a varied range of specialties including law enforcement, transportation, cybersecurity, chemistry, biology, food security, fire safety, and border control. And it draws from the disciplines of law, defense, intelligence, health, science, and more.

Various grants and initiatives have made homeland security a field of study and have given rise to websites, databases, and digital collections on the topic. The interdisciplinary and cross-jurisdictional nature of homeland security creates a need for websites that pull together disparate content from many fields.

Homeland Security Digital Library

The Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) is one such site. HSDL is funded by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Preparedness Directorate. The project is based at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) of the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), with support from the NPS Dudley Knox Library.

Access to HSDL is somewhat restricted. To view and search all content, you must have an account. HSDL gives priority to local, state, and federal government organizations such as fire, emergency management, police, and homeland security departments. Accounts are also available to academic and research communities. Language on the website states: "We invite all homeland security policy planners, strategists, researchers, scholars, managers and first responders to use the HSDL." Individuals fill out a web form to apply for access. Organizations may be able to obtain site-wide access.

Screenshot of Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) Homepage

What can you access without an account?