U. S. Federal Government Information Resources at Middlebury College: Past, Present and Future

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"A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps, both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

--James Madison, 1822


  • The rudiments of the federal depository library system began in 1813 when Congress authorized the distribution of the journals of the Senate and House to various academic libraries.
  • In 1858 Congress passed a law authorizing each representative to designate libraries in their district to receive government publications and each Senator gained the authority to designate one depository each in his state.
  • The Printing Act of 1860 centralized all Federal printing in the new Government Printing Office.
  • The Superintendent of Documents classification system was developed 1895-1903 andorganizes government documents by publishing agency
  • In 1923 the option of selecting categories of government publications was introduced.
  • The Depository Library Act of 1962 allowed depository libraries to weed their collections.
  • In 1979 our government documents collection was the first collection to be shelved on compact shelving that was installed in the Meredith Wing of Starr Library.
  • The 1993 Government Printing Office Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act enhanced public access to a wide range of federal electronic information.
  • In 1995 a retrospective cataloging project was completed, resulting in the addition of 28,000 bibliographic records to MIDCAT for government documents. Since then new bibliographic records are added regularly through monthly tape loads.
  • In recent years some government agencies have privatized information resources that had previously been available free to Federal depository libraries and we now pay to receive them. Examples: Business Statistics of the United States, Historical Statistics of the United States and Journal of the National Cancer Institute.


  • Middlebury College is one of seven federal depository libraries in Vermont. The others are:
  • Castleton State College
  • Johnson State College
  • Norwich University
  • University of Vermont
  • (UVM is also a Patent & Trademark Office depository)
  • Vermont Department of Libraries
  • Vermont Law School
  • Publications from federal agencies that operate on a cost recovery basis, such as the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), are not included in the Federal Depository Library Program.
  • Documents Collection Holdings, as of June 30, 2008
    • Paper 159,000
    • Microfiches 109,000
    • CDs 1,200 Videotapes 24
  • Location

Most government documents are housed in the Government Documents collection on compact shelving on the main floor of the main library. However, government documents can be found in several other locations in the library: Reference. Examples:

  • Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
  • Congressional Directory
  • Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
  • County and City Data Book
  • Crime in the United States (Uniform Crime Reports)
  • Guide to the United States Treaties in Force
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook
  • State and Metropolitan Area Data Book
  • Statistical Abstract of the United States
  • United States Government Manual
  • World Factbook
  • Stacks. Examples:
  • Foreign Relations of the United States
  • Handbook of North American Indians
  • Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: Hearings
  • Papers of the Presidents
  • Pearl Harbor Attack: Hearings
  • United States Code
  • United States Statutes at Large
  • United States Supreme Court Reports
  • Periodicals. Examples:
  • Economic Indicators
  • FDA Consumer
  • Federal Reserve Bulletin
  • Monthly Labor Review
  • Survey of Current Business
  • Treasury Bulletin
  • Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents
  • Microfiche. Examples:
  • Congressional hearings
  • Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Daily Reports.
  • Joint Publications Research Service. Reports.
  • U. S. Congressional Serial Set
  • Armstrong Library. Examples:
  • U. S. Geological Survey. Bulletins.
  • U. S. Geological Survey. Professional Papers.
  • U. S. Geological Survey. Topographic maps.
  • U. S. Geological Survey. Water Supply Papers.
  • Cataloging

Most government documents received since 1976 have been cataloged and may be found in MidCat. However, most documents received before 1976 are not cataloged, but can be identified through various bibliographic tools, such as the Monthly Catalog of United State Government Publications.

[listserv.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/wa.exe GPOLISTSERV] GovDoc-L GPLNE-L GovDocs@Oberlingroup.org

  • Core Subject Guides and Web pages (internal)

Census of Manufactures Resources at the Main Library Census of Population and Housing Statistics in the Main Library to GovtStats.doc Gateways to Government Statistics Government Information Resources linked from the Guides by Subject in the Research Guides section of the LIS home page Government Documents Linked under the Specialty Resources section of the LIS home page Government Information A few ready-reference resources, linked under the E-Reference by Category section of the Online Reference Sources section of the LIS home page Government Documents Department Not publicly menued; intended for staff use only. Newsbank Indexes to the Foreign Broadcast Information Services Daily Report Joint Publications Research Service. Reports

Core Web Pages (external)

Catalog of U. S. Government Publications Finding tool for federal publications, with links to online resources. Checklist of United States Public Documents, 1789-1909 Documents Data Miner2 A library management system for U. S. government documents FDLP Desktop A centralized resource for the Federal Depository Library System. FDLP Handbook Handbook of regulations and guidelines for Federal depository libraries. Federal Citizen Information Center Gateway for ordering government publications. Federal Depository Library PURL Referrals Statistics on government websites accessed by Middlebury IP addresses. Federal Digital System (FDSys) Federal Web Locator FedWorld.gov Site is by the National Technical Information Center GPO Access Official information from all three branches of the Federal government. LexisNexis Congressional Universe LexisNexis Statistical Universe Thomas Database of federal legislative information. USA.gov The Federal government's official web portal U. S. Congressional Serial Set shortcut at Middlebury = go/usss

  • Staff

Hans Raum, Government Documents Librarian (4-6 hrs./week) Job description Reference questions, bibliographic instruction, pathfinders, reports Ginny Faust, Government Documents Associate (15 hrs./week) Job description Cataloging, assisting patrons, managing day-to-day operation, serial records, statistics, preservation

Annual Reports and Statistics middfiles\vol1\ORGS\LIS\Library_Government_Documents Annual Report Govt Docs 1994- Annual Stats Govt Docs 1996- Annual Statistics, 1975-2008 (xls)
  • Core textbook:

Morehead, Joe. Introduction to United States Government Information Resources.

Sixth edition. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1999. Ref. ZA5055 U6 M67

  • Online Training

Archive of GPO Online Training Programs

  • Background Reading

Biennial Survey of Depository Libraries. 2007 Results Digitization and the Legacy Government Documents Collection "Knowledge Will Forever Govern": A Vision Statement for Federal Depository Libraries in the 21st Century. Report on the Feasibility of relocating all or part of the Government Documents Collection (September, 2007) Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats for Government Documents at Middlebury Strategic Plan for the Future of the FDLP, 2009-2014

  • Best Academic Federal Depository Library websites

University of Michigan

  • Locally digitized government documents

Commercial Marbles of Western Vermont, by T. Nelson Dale


Government Information Online

There are presently no participating depository libraries in Vermont.

Lean and clean

Identify and weed material that no longer seems useful.

Legacy Collection

Proposal to digitize 2.2 million printed government publications, totalling 60 million pages. Unfunded.

Less acquiring "just in case" and more borrowing "just in time"

Reduce our item number selection rate from 30% to 20-25%.

LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe)

Back-up copies of authorized e-content

Pre-1976 cataloging records

Phase out CD-ROM collect

Some Great Websites

Foreign Countries

Background Notes

Country Analysis Briefs

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

Country Reports on Terrorism

Country Studies

Foreign Consular Offices in the United States

Foreign Relations of the United States

International Data Base

Statistical Agencies (International)

World Factbook (Central Intelligence Agency)

World Leaders

General Interest

American Memory

College Navigator

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Core Documents of U. S. Democracy

Electronic Orange Book

Green Book: Overview of Entitlement Programs

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Hubble Site

MyPyramid.gov: Steps to a Healthier You

National Gallery of Art

The Presidents

SEC EDGAR Database

White House Briefing Room

Just for Kids

America's CryptoKids: Future Codebreakers and Codemakers (National Security Agency)

Ben's Guide to U. S. Government for Kids

Central Intelligence Agency for kids

Energy Kids' Page

Environmental Kids Club (Environmental Protection Agency)

Factfinder Kids Corner

FBI for Kids

Kids in the House

NGA Kids (National Gallery of Art)


American Memory Maps (Library of Congress Map Collections)

Dynamic Maps of Bank Card and Mortgage Foreclosures in the U. S.

Dynamic Maps on Nonprime Mortgage Conditions in the U. S.

Forest Service Maps

Historic USGS Maps of New England and NY


National Map (U. S. Geological Survey)

NOAA's Online Chart Viewer

Serial Set Maps

World Factbook Reference Maps


Bureau of the Census

Bureau of Economic Analysis

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Energy Information Administration


FRASER: Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research

" FRED: Federal Reserve Economic Data

Justice Statistics Bureau

National Agricultural Statistics Service

National Center for Educational Statistics

National Center for Health Statistics

Thematic Sites












Non-governmental Websites for Government Information:

Atlas of U. S. Presidential Elections

Congress Votes Database (Washington Post)

First Federal Congress Project (George Washington University)

GovSpeak: A Guide to Government Acronyms and Abbreviations


"A civic project to track Congress"

National Security Archive (George Washington Univerisity)

An excellent source for classified information made available through the FOIA.


Comprehensive set of reports by the Congressional Research Service


Tracks bills, votes, senators and representatives

Pig Book (Citizens Against Government Waste)


"Making Government Information More Accessible"



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