Government Documents Department
The U. S. government is the largest publisher in the world. The GPO (Government Printing Office) prints information for all three branches of the federal government. The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) disseminates U.S. Government information to the American public through libraries across the nation, including Middlebury College. The information resources we receive from the federal government are very strong in the social sciences and sciences, especially economics, the environment and statistics. This information is available to anyone who wants to see it, including library patrons not affiliated with the College. All of the tangible information resources we receive as a federal depository library collection are owned by the government, not the college.
General information about the FDLP and detailed Collection Management procedures can be found here: http://www.fdlp.gov/
Click on the headings below for more information.
INTRODUCTION The priorities for the collection of U.S. Government publications are to meet the instructional needs of students as well as the teaching and research needs of the faculty. In addition, as a federal depository, the library is required to be open to use by the public, and the needs of the public are considered when depository collection development decisions are made. The Library complies with Instructions to Depository Libraries and the Federal Depository Library Manual. Government publications received through the depository library program are the property of the federal government rather than of the receiving library.
Middlebury College became an official depository for U.S. Government publications in 1884. We have the oldest depository collection in Vermont and regularly received U.S. Government publications before 1884. Until 1923 we received all publications available through the program, and after that time we selected only a portion of the federal publications available. Our Main Library has the second largest collection of government publications in Vermont; our collection is exceeded in size only by the collection at Bailey-Howe Library at the University of Vermont. There are seven selective Federal depository libraries in Vermont; the nearest to us are at Burlington to the north, Castleton to the south and Northfield to the east. Any depository publications not held by Middlebury college may be borrowed from the University of Vermont or the University of Maine at Orono, which has been designated as a Regional Depository and consequently receives all depository publications.
Particular strengths of our depository collection include the Congressional Serial Set, a complete run of the Congressional Record, USGS publications, Census publications dating back to 1800 and statistical publications in many fields, most notably energy and economics.
SELECTION Depository libraries select government publications by categories rather than by individual titles. All categories available for selection may be found in the List of Classes of U.S. Government Publications Available for Selection by Depository Libraries. We currently receive about 21% of the numbers available for selection. We receive all of the publications included in the "Suggested Core Collection: Small Academic Library", which is included in section 4 of the Federal Depository Library Manual. Each year in June we review the "item list" of publications we receive and amend our selections based on reference questions, circulation patterns and recommendations from professional journals, GovDoc-L and patrons. Suggestions as to items which might be added to the Library's item list are welcome form the College community and the general public. The annual selection review is coordinated by the Government Documents Librarian, who has final responsibility for item selection.
U.S. Government publications which are not available through the depository system are acquired selectively if needed to support student requests or faculty instructional or research needs. Duplicate copies of heavily used government publications are purchased and bound as necessary. Examples of such titles are the Statistical Abstract of the United States and the Economic Report of the President. We receive added copies of other statistical publications as an affiliate of the Vermont State Data Center.
FORMAT Depository materials are collected in paper, microfiche, and electronic formats. Non-depository and commercially produced government publications and supporting reference tools are acquired in the same formats. When documents such as Congressional hearings are available in both paper and microfiche we generally select paper if we anticipate high use or if the publication has many statistics. When documents are available in both paper and electronic formats we generally select the electronic format if it is easy to use for searching, viewing, printing, and downloading. Some basic resources will be acquired in multiple formats, such as U. S. Census of Population material.
REFERENCE MATERIALS In accordance with section 13 of the Federal Depository Library Manual the library will acquire and maintain the basic catalogs, guides and indexes, both retrospective and current, which are considered to be essential for the effective use of the collection, including selected non-governmental reference sources. Any online databases which must be purchased from commercial vendors, such as LexisNexis and Readex, must be approved by the reference librarians and follow the usual procedure for requesting online databases.
CATALOGING AND CLASSIFICATION Most of the publications we receive as a depository library are shelved in the Documents Collection on the main floor of the library and classified according to the Superintendent of Documents Classification Scheme. Some major series are shelved in the stacks, including U. S. Supreme Court Reports, U. S. Statutes at Large, United States Code, and Foreign Relations of the United States.
The majority of the documents we receive are serial in nature and all of the serials we receive are included in MIDCAT. Depository periodicals indexed in PAIS or in other indexes we have in the reference collection or online are shelved with the periodical collection rather than with other government publications.
Monographic documents are cataloged for Documents, Reference, the Main Library Stacks, and the Science Library. The Documents staff consults with the appropriate librarian in determining whether it would be appropriate to catalog a document for a location other than the Documents Collection.
CIRCULATION Publications pre-dating 1900 normally do not circulate and have been stamped "Not to be taken from the library". More recent publications circulate with the following exceptions: 1. Agricultural Statistics 2. Census publications 3. Code of Federal Regulations 4. Congressional Record (bound volumes) 5. Economic Report of the President 6. Foreign Economic Trends 7. Statistical Abstract of the United States 8. Uniform Crime Reports 9. Bound periodicals 10. Reference books
Patrons may take circulating documents to the Circulation Desk to be charged out. Publications which do not have a bar code in the back will be charged out "on the fly". The normal loan period for students, staff and non-college borrowers is four weeks. Any resident of Vermont may borrow circulating items from our Documents collection. They need to show some identification, such as a driver's license, when they charge out documents.
PRESERVATION Documents should be bound in accordance with section 6 of the Federal Depository Library Manual. The Government Printing Office insists that the maintenance accorded to depository materials be no less than that given to maintain commercially purchased publications. Slotted shelves will be used to help maintain thin paperback documents in good order on the shelves. All of the leather-bound volumes of the Serial Set have been treated with leather preservative and some have been rebound as needed. Additional rebinding and treating with leather preservative should be undertaken in future years as necessary.
PUBLIC SERVICE All publications we received as a Federal Depository Library, regardless of format, are available for the free use of the general public. Publications available through the Web may be accessed from any public computer terminal in the library and two computer workstations in carrels near the document collection are dedicated to providing no-fee access to depository CD-ROM products. An extensive Documents home page has been developed and is maintained to facilitate easy access to government information resources that are available on the Web. In addition, basic subject pathfinders relating to government publications have been developed and are available in the literature racks on the shelf above the two computer workstations dedicated to accessing government CD-ROM products. These pathfinders are also available on the Web. The availability of new Web resources from various government agencies is publicized through LISt and the Documents staff welcomes questions from faculty, students, staff, and the general public in person, by telephone, letter, e-mail, or fax.
COOPERATION WITH OTHER LIBRARIES The Main Library is a participant in the State Plan for Depository Libraries and has taken into account the strengths and weaknesses of other depository libraries in Vermont in developing our collection. We rely on the extensive collection of federal publications available at the University of Vermont to fill patron requests for material not in our collection and in turn we work through the Inter-Library Loan network to fill requests for documents not held by other depository libraries. Our monthly tape load of bibliographic records for new government publications identifies Middlebury College as a holding institution for documents which other libraries can borrow through inter-library loan.
SECURITY All bound documents pre-dating the year 1920, and other documents deemed to be of lasting value will be stripped with 3M Tattletapes to insure their security. Additional security for the early volumes of the Serial Set is provided by shelving them in the part of the compact shelving installation which is locked and only accessible with the assistance of a documents staff member.
WEEDING We have an active weeding program which is done in accordance with Chapter 10 of the Instructions to Depository Libraries. Items which have not been superceded must be retained for five years from their date of receipt before they may be withdrawn. Superceded items which are listed in Appendix C of the Instructions to Depository Libraries may be withdrawn immediately.
POLICY REVISION This policy statement will be reviewed once a year and amended as deemed necessary by the Government Documents Librarian. This policy statement will also be reviewed and appropriately amended in accordance with updates of Instructions to Depository Libraries.
Hernon, Peter. Developing Collections of U.S. Government Publications. Greenwich: JAI Press, 1982.
McClure, Charles. "An Integrated Approach to Government Publication Collection Development", Government Publications Review, 8A:1 (1981), pp.5-15.
Morton, Bruce. "Toward a Comprehensive collection Development Policy for Partial U.S. Government Depository Libraries", Government Publications Review, 7A:1 (1980), pp.41-46.
U. S. Government Printing Office. Collection Development Guidelines for Selective Federal Depository Libraries. Government Printing Office, 1994. Available: http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fdlp/pubs/fdlm/coldev.html [23 September 2007]
Wilson, John. "Weeding the Partial Depository: The Cornerstone of Collection Development", DTTP, 16:2 (1988), pp.91-94.