Item Selection

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Item Selection Procedures

As one of seven federal depository libraries in Vermont we select about 20% of the item numbers for material available for selection. The publications of some federal agencies that operate on a cost-recovery basis, such as the National Technical Information Service, are not available for free distribution through the Federal Depository Library Program. Also, most reports of the Congressional Research Service and the Federal Reserve System have not been made available through the Federal Depository Library Program. An online list of all active item numbers that are available through the program can be found at List of Classes. A list of the item numbers we currently select can be viewed by going to GPO Access Item Lister and typing our depository library number, which is 0627. Some item numbers are for a single publication, while other item numbers are for groups of publications by a specific agency. Different formats (print, online, DVD, microfiche) of a given title will have different item numbers, so we can choose which formats we prefer to receive. Our Government Documents Collection Development Policy statement is a basic guide to selecting item numbers and it is available online at Government Documents Collection Development Policy. The development of this policy statement was guided by input from several sources:

Suggested Core Collection by Library Type, from the Federal Depository Library Handbook, Appendix A
Items that are designated as being an ESSENTIAL TITLE in the List of Classes
Circulation statistics for government documents that circulate
Summary of Circulation of Government Documents by SuDoc stem
Government Documents which have circulated at least five times
Congressional Hearings which have circulated at least five times
Review of reference questions that were answered at least in part from government information resources.

Gaps in our holdings that we would like to fill are listed in our Desiderata List. On rare occasions we may be able to fill these gaps by checking the Needs & Offers lists that are posted on the GOVDOC-L listserv.

Sometimes new government information resources are reviewed in the monthly issues of Choice or the weekly Internet Scout Report. The annual Notable Government Documents list in Library Journal is also worth checking. Many of these resources are electronic and we can add them to the webpage U. S. Government Information Resources by Subject and/or U. S. Government Information Resources by Title or Database Name or suggest that they be cataloged for Midcat, without adding any new item numbers. After adding new item numbers we should consider whether the material should be linked to any of the subject guides, such as the guide for statistics, or to the webpage for Databases A - Z, which includes federal databases such as Agricola, the Catalog of U. S. Government Publications, the CIA World Factbook, Energy Citations Database, Medline, etc. It would be good to check with Carrie before adding any new item numbers that might be of interest to Armstrong Library.

New item numbers are created throughout the year as GPO identifies new publications or online resources of federal government agencies that do not seem appropriate to assign to existing item numbers. These new item numbers are included in GPO's WEB Tech Notes, which is linked from FDLP Desktop. Some of these new item numbers are automatically added to our list of item number selections if we select other item numbers that are closely related. As part of our annual review of these new item number selections each June we identify those item numbers that do not seem relevant to our needs and delete them. Item numbers can be deleted at anytime, but new item numbers can be added to our profile only as part of the annual selection cycle that needs to be completed by the end of June. Ginny maintains separate card files for item numbers we currently select and those item numbers we do not currently select or have never selected. The main value of these card files is in the notes, often handwritten, that record changes in item numbers or SuDoc numbers for a given title, as well as information on when an item number was added or dropped.

We occasionally purchase commercially produced products that are based on government information resources. Examples include the U. S. Serial Set, World News Connection, Social Explorer, and the GeoLytics DVD Census Research Package. We have also set up accounts to access several government non-depository databases, such as DARTS (Depository Access to Reports, Technical & Scientific), PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), Homeland Security Digital Library, National Climatic Data Center Online Documents Library, and USA Trade Online. Several of these require us to log in for the patron, which is a pain and limits hours of access, but it is better than not having any access to these online resources.

We also purchase some commercial products that provide added value features not found in the plain vanilla versions we receive free as a federal depository library. Examples include the United States Code Annotated (vs. the free United States Code) and the United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers Edition (vs. the official United States Reports).

We acquire added copies of some basic statistical publications of the federal government through being an affiliate of the Vermont State Data Center. We do not choose which publications to receive and we do not have an obligation to keep them for five years, which is required for publications we receive as a federal depository library.

More than 90% of new federal government information resources are available in electronic formats and for those resources that are freely available on the Internet we could access them without selecting the item numbers to "acquire" them as a federal depository library. However, the value in selecting the item numbers for these electronic resources is that these items are then included in our profile to receive bibliographic records through our monthly tape load from OCLC. Bibliographic access through Midcat is the main driver for circulation of printed government information resources and usage of online government information resources.

We select publications by choosing item numbers, provided by the GPO, that match specific publications or groups of publications. Once a year we review our selections and add or drop item numbers. Each format- paper, microfiche, or electronic- has a different item number. We can choose which format we want and are increasingly choosing electronic items.

Once we have decided which items are being added or dropped, we need to go to the OCLC website and go through a similar process.(OCLC is the agency that provides our cataloging records.)

  • http://www.oclc.org/us/en/govdoc/default.htm
    * Go to the section from the left- hand side of the page called "Ordering" and go the the GovDocs Status Change form. Our OCLC symbol is MDY and our current billing partner is Lyrasis.

Card File

We also maintain a card file of current item selections and another one for dropped item selections. These contain some useful notes. However, the "current" drawer is not complete. For more info on specific items, and to print a card, you can go to Web Tech Notes http://www.fdlp.gov/collections/collection-maintenance/webtech-notes.

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