Eight (formerly Twenty-One) Things to Do When Assuming Responsibility for a Federal Depository Library

PAGE CONTENTS 7 minute read.


Also see the [FDLP Quickstart Guide][].

  1. Identify basic information about your Depository.
    1. Locate the Depository Number
      Found in the FDL Directory, the depository number begins with a 0 and ends with a letter. It will be needed for any correspondence with GPO and for accessing most tools at FDLP.gov.
    2. Discover your Library’s designation date & type
      Found in the FDL Directory.
    3. Locate Depository Passwords
      If unsure of the depository passwords, contact GPO staff
    4. Contact your Regional Depository Library
      Found in the FDL Directory, the Regional Depository Library provides guidance and services such as interlibrary loan and reference to selective depository libraries it serves. Regional libraries must also assist selective libraries in disposing of unwanted items.
    5. Item Selection Profile
      Found in Item Lister, the Item Selection Profile defines the items your depository receives from GPO.
  2. Locate the following program management tools
    1. FDLP.gov
      FDLP.gov is the primary communication vehicle GPO uses to communicate news about the FDLP.
    2. Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program
      The Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program provides member libraries with a single, concise resource to consult for the current legal and Program obligations of libraries in the Federal Depository Library Program.
    3. FDLP Guidance
      Guidance is based on broad topics and articles may reference multiple regulations and contains advice on how to comply with the FDLP regulations
    4. FDLP Instructions
      Instructions contains information on how to use various FDLP services and resources.
    5. WebTech Notes
      WEBTech Notes is designed to support the management of Federal depository library collections. Federal depository libraries use WEBTech Notes to search, browse, and view updates to Superintendent of Documents classification numbers and to List of Classes information.
  3. Get to know Depository Collection Development
    1. Institution Collection Development Statement
      Locate a copy of your library’s collection development statement or policy for the documents collection.
    2. FDLP Basic Collection
      Every Federal Depository Library is required to have the titles in the basic collection accessible for immediate use. These titles are vital sources of information for the public’s right to know about the workings and essential activities of the Federal Government. Compare your item selection profile against this list.
    3. FDLP Essential Titles
      Essential titles list is a collection of U.S. Government information resources containing critical information that the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) plans to continue disseminating in tangible format in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). Compare your item selection profile against this list.
    4. Depository Selection Information Management System (DSIMS)
      DSIMS allows libraries to drop publications and add online (EL) publications at any time. Meanwhile, libraries can queue adds into a cart at any time. The cart is processed at the start of each new fiscal year (October 1); therefore, there will no longer be an Annual Item Selection Update Cycle. DSIMS also provides enhanced backend functionality for GPO staff.
    5. Supporting Materials
      Does your library have a budget for reference materials that compliment and support the depository collection? If so, who’s responsible for ordering and how are orders placed?
  4. Locate records pertaining to your depository
    1. Locate records pertaining to your item selection
      Records could be in the form of item selection cards, printouts, or a locally created selection database. These will help determine current and past item selection profiles. If you cannot find any records the DSIMS and Documents Data Miner (DDM2) can provide selection profile information.
    2. Locate past shipping lists
      A minimum of 2-years of shipping lists should be retained. If marked properly, these shipping lists will show receipts, claims, etc.
    3. Locate copies of Biennial Surveys filed with GPO
      The Biennial Survey of Depository Libraries is the means by which depository libraries report their conditions to GPO. It is administered in odd numbered years and response is required by law.
      Individual library responses from the Biennial Survey are kept with the official records of each depository. Responses should also be kept by each depository and passed on to successive depository staff members. Access Biennial Survey results here.
    4. Locate copies of previous Inspection Reports or Self-Assessments
      Though formal on-site inspections are no longer done, records of any past inspections should have been retained by the depository coordinator. Public Access Assessments (PAA) are a tool for voluntary, internal use for educational or strategic planning purposes. They are designed to enable depository coordinators to become more familiar with their depository operations and to determine which areas need improvement or change.
    5. Locate annual reports made by the documents department to the Library’s administration
      Ask about the content and format for any future reports required by your administrators. Goals and Objectives are frequently used for planning/report purposes and are frequently linked to equipment/budget requests.
    6. Ask for copies of statistical reports
      Check for statistics needed from the documents department and the definitions used for “documents,” piece counts, and monograph and serial holdings or subscriptions. Review the statistics required on the last GPO Biennial Survey. You should contact your regional librarian for advice on the types of statistics you should be collecting to demonstrate your effectiveness as a depository.
  5. Evaluate the Accessibility of the Collection
    1. Library Policies
      Review your library’s circulation, interlibrary loan and internet policies to ensure they keep in line with Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the FDLP. If policies do not align with Legal Requirements work with your library administration to ensure public accessibility to the collections.
    2. Cataloging
      What are the cataloging arrangements for depository materials? If not in the library’s OPAC what arrangements have been made to provide access to depository collections? GPO’s cataloging guidelines can be found here.
    3. Collection Arrangement & Maintenance
      Review the accessibility of the collection. Is it comparable to other collections within your library? Is there adequate space for growth? Is a maintenance policy in place?
    4. Equipment Availability
      Does your library have the adequate equipment for accessing and using the collections, microforms, electronic materials, digital-born materials?
  6. Identify the Potential Clientele
    It is important to know the clientele your collection will be serving. An environmental scan will help determine the primary service population and their information needs. This information will drive collection development and outreach efforts. If there are other depositories in the community contact the coordinator to see how you might work together to better serve the community.
  7. Publicize & Promote the Collection
    1. Publicize the Collection
      Make sure it is visible to the public that your library is an FDLP member. Image files for websites as well as door decal and other promotional materials are available from GPO to publicize the FDLP collection.
    2. Promote the Collection
      Collection promotion can be done in an endless number of ways. See what your library currently has in place to promote collections and services to staff and patrons. A few ideas include websites, blogs, subject guides, workshops, displays, etc.
  8. Ask Questions & Stay Informed
    1. AskGPO
      AskGPO is the formal way to ask depository-related questions of GPO staff.
    2. FDLP Email Alerts
      Sign up for FDLP Email Alerts to get timely news from GPO about the FDLP. This list also notifies of GPO sponsored training events.
    3. GOVDOC-L
      GOVDOC-L is a LISTSERV(c)-based discussion forum about government information and the Federal Depository Library program. Many subscribers are librarians in and out of government, although private and public information producers are represented as well.

Other helpful resources:

  • ALA Government Documents Round Table (GODORT): The purposes of the Government Documents Round Table are: to provide a forum for the discussion of problems and concerns and for the exchange of ideas by librarians working with government documents; to provide a nexus for initiating and supporting programs to increase the availability, use and bibliographic control of documents; to increase communication between documents librarians and the larger community of information professionals; to contribute to the education and training of documents librarians.