Twenty-One Things to Do When Assuming Responsibility for a Federal Depository Library
- Identify your Depository Library Number. (This number must be used on all correspondence with GPO. It appears on all shipment mailing labels and on the inside flap of each shipment box.) You will also need to find your LPS-issued password. (See item number 3 below.)
Locate the following program management tools:
[Note: When the tool is available in print, the SuDocs classification number is given. Each of the print titles or its equivalent appears on the FDLP Desktop. You should become familiar with all of the information available through the FDLP Desktop, for it serves as a centralized resource for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), which disseminates U.S. Government information to the American public through libraries across the nation. Use the site to stay up-to-date with the latest innovations and progress of the Federal Depository Program and to utilize its various tools in order to enhance public services.]
In 2008 the FDLP superseded the Instructions to Depository Libraries manual (GP 3.26:D 44/date) and the Guidelines for the Depository Library System (GP 1.23/4:D 44/date) with its newly revised Federal Depository Library Handbook (GP 3.29:D 44/date)
- List of Classes of United States Government Publications Available for Selection by Depository Libraries (GP 3.24:)
- The official listing of publications available for selection by libraries participating in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). The list is arranged by the Superintendent of Documents classification numbering system and is designed to group together publications issued by the same government agency. Electronic files of data from the List of Classes are updated monthly and uploaded to the Federal Bulletin Board on the first Friday of each month. A more user friendly version is available at the Documents Data Miner 2.
- Administrative Notes (GP 3.16/3-2: date/no.) and the Technical Supplement (GP 3.16/3-3:date/no.)
- This monthly newsletter of the FDLP includes news about GPO and depository library activities and issues, as well as instructions and alerts for depository libraries. The Technical Supplement (ANTS) contains updates to various FDLP-related products. The WEBTech Notes database contains the information of the four main components of ANTS: "Classification/Cataloging Update," "Whatever Happened to?," "Update to the List of Classes: New Items," and "Update to the List of Classes: Misc."
- Help (GPO Access)
- Use the Online Knowledge Base to get answers to frequently-asked questions related to GPO Access or the FDLP. If you have a question that can't be answered by the Knowledge Base, use the Ask a Question online form to address a specific question to a GPO representative. Your question will be routed to the appropriate subject specialist, and you will get an answer via e-mail. The question will be used to update the Knowledge Base. Other sources of help include phone and fax numbers and a GPO mailing address.
- FDLP Desktop: Contacts
- Subject matter experts are available through the askGPO service to handle your questions in a timely manner. Use the LSCM Director Contact Form to contact Library Service and Content Management directors.
- Federal Depository Library Directory (GP 3.36/2: date)
- This directory lists addresses and contact information for all federal depository libraries.
- An Explanation of the Superintendent of Documents Classification System. (GP 3.2:C 56/8/date)
- The Superintendent of Documents classification system, which classifies federal government publications by author, was developed in the Library of the Government Printing Office between 1895 and 1903. It has been used ever since to identify public documents that have been distributed to depository libraries, and is used to arrange the documents collections in most depository libraries, as well as in the documents collection of the National Archives and Records Administration.
- GPO Classification Manual: A Practical Guide to the Superintendent of Documents Classification System. (GP 3.29:P 88) [Requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader]
- This manual summarizes policies currently in effect for assigning Superintendent of Documents classification numbers to government publications in the U.S. Government Printing Office. Where possible, the manual also indicates earlier policies that resulted in quite different class numbers for some groups of documents.
- Cataloging Guidelines (GP 3.29: C28/) [Requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader]
- This document explains the standards and procedures used by GPO employees to create catalog records for depository publications. They are limited in their scope and are used by GPO catalogers in conjunction with generally accepted standards such as AACR2, The Chicago Manual of Style, and Library of Congress standards.
Locate records pertaining to your depository item selections. These records can be in the form of item selection cards, printouts of your item selections, or a locally created selection database. These will help determine not only your current profile, but the history of your library's selection profile. This information is very critical to any retrospective cataloging profile developed to load GPO cataloging records. (The item number assigned to each publication appears in the 074 MARC tag). These catalog records may be purchased through a vendor such as Marcive or OCLC.
If you cannot find your actual item selection cards or the equivalent information stored on a locally created computer file, use the Item Lister or the Documents Data Miner to determine the current selection profile for your library. You will also need to find your LPS-issued password to make changes to your profile through the Amendment of Item Selections form. Don't know your password or how to make profile changes? See instructions at Amending Your Library's Item Selection Profile. An explanation of item selection procedures is included in Chapter 5 of the Federal Depository Library Handbook.
- Locate all past shipping lists the department has retained—you must retain at a minimum the past 2 years. If marked properly, these shipping lists will show actual receipts, claims, etc. Shipping lists can be used for a variety of collection management projects. Detailed advice is available in the Federal Depository Library Handbook. (The UNT Depository Library retains all shipping lists—we actually have shipping lists from #1, 1951, to the present—and we use them to track call number corrections.) Shipping lists are available electronically through the GPO's Federal Bulletin Board.
- Locate copies of the Biennial Surveys filed with the GPO. Collated results of the Biennial Survey for selected years are available in the Biennial Survey repository. While the questions asked on each reporting form vary from biennium to biennium, your library's response to the Biennial Surveys will provide valuable information and allow you to compare your situation to other libraries.
- Locate copies of your previous Inspection Reports from GPO and their accompanying Public Access Assessments. See Preparing for a Library Inspection. Self-assessments are encouraged, while formal on-site inspections are no longer done, but you may find both are mentioned in the Federal Depository Library Handbook. Your depository may have had problems you were not aware of, which it is to be hoped were corrected. Even though the inspection program is no longer in force, you will want to be in compliance with the FDLP rules. Public Access Assessments are a tool for your library's 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. Modules being released cover Basics, Collection Development, and Bibliographic Control. An Introduction containing background information, technical information on how to work with PDFs, and more, is also available. Libraries are encouraged use the tool to review their depository operations. If you have questions or comments about the Assessments, please use askGPO and use the category "Federal Depository Libraries" and the subcategory "Conferences/Training." Suggestions from the community about the Assessments will be incorporated into the modules after all modules have been made available.
- Locate copies of the annual reports made by the documents department to your 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.
- Ask for copies of any statistical reports your library files with outside agencies. 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. Statistics are just one measure of assessment. Read the literature on assessment to review your various services for improvement.
- Locate a copy of the library's collection development policy (or a separate policy for the documents collection if it is not included in the library's policy). Detailed advice on writing a collection development policy statement is available in the Federal Depository Library Handbook.
- Compare your item selections against the Suggested Core Collection for your library type. Detailed advice is available in the Federal Depository Library Handbook and from the FDLP Desktop Building Collections page.
- Identify your potential clientele. If you are designated to serve a congressional district, research your district to identify various user groups. Contact other libraries in your district to identify how you may assist them. Do your item selections meet all their needs?
- Does your library have a reference budget set aside for the documents collection? How are orders placed?
- Contact your Regional Depository Librarian. If you don't know who that is, select your state in the Federal Depository Library Directory, then click VIEW next to "Regional depository library" to see the FDLP profile details, including the depository coordinator's name and contact information. Ask for the disposal instructions and a copy of the "State Plan for Depository Libraries" in your state. Ask about statewide or local networks for depository librarians. Establish good relations with your regional depository library and assist with cooperative projects. Join your state or regional documents group and, if possible, ALA's Government Documents Round Table (GODORT). Network, network, network.
- Does your available staff meet the standards set forth in the Federal Depository Library Handbook?
- Do your technical processing manuals meet the recommended standards in the Federal Depository Library Handbook? Is your staff well trained? For an example of training staff via the Web, visit the AALL/GODORT Government Documents Tutorial.
- Does your shelf list meet the federal standards for recordkeeping set forth in the Federal Depository Library Handbook?
- What are the local cataloging arrangements for documents? Is access provided through the library's online catalog by locally-produced records or vendor-purchased records? If not, how is alternative access provided? Detailed advice is available in the Federal Depository Library Handbook and in the ALA/GODORT Toolbox for Processing and Cataloging Federal Government Documents.
- Review your collection's physical arrangement. Is it comparable to that of the library's other collections? Is there growth space for paper, microforms, maps, and CD-ROMs? And do you have adequate server space to download and store electronic publications locally? Do your collection maintenance practices meet the standards? Detailed advice is available in the Federal Depository Library Handbook.
- Review equipment available (e.g., public/staff computer workstations, microform readers, photocopy machines, public printers). Does your library have unfiltered access to the Internet and provide public access to the Internet? Do you have a government documents Web page, and do your computers meet the Minimum Technical Requirements, the Recommended Specifications For Public Access Computers, and the FDLP Internet Use Policy Guidelines? See also Related Issues and Considerations and detailed advice in the Federal Depository Library Handbook.
- Are there established methods to publicize the documents collection: door decals, Web pages, pathfinders, library instruction, tours, library-wide brochures, newspaper articles? You can request free FDLP Promotional Materials online, as well as an FDLP Marketing Plan. Detailed suggestions are available in the Federal Depository Library Handbook.
- What are the library's circulation policies? Interlibrary loan and document delivery policies? Reference policies? Internet use policies? Will these meet the recommended standards for public access to the documents collection? For detailed advice, consult the Federal Depository Library Handbook.
Finally, the most important question for continued participation in the Federal Depository Library Program:
Can your library continue to support the Program goals now that so few items will come in tangible formats? See the Guidelines for Depository Libraries: Substituting Online for Tangible Versions of Depository Publications by Selectives.
What role do you see for government information for yourself and your library without the official coordination of the Federal Depository Library Program?
Some federal depository libraries are forming consortia partnerships to collect electronic publications and databases that fit their constituents' needs and take on the role for electronic preservation using systems such as LOCKSS for Docs.
Is this something your library will be willing to invest in for servers, backup systems, etc.? Or will government information no longer be a formal part of collection policies and programs?