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Texas Christian University’s Mary Couts Burnett Library

The Mary Couts Burnett Library at Texas Christian University (TCU) has a proud history of providing free, public access through its service as a Federal depository library.

Free, Public Access Supported

The depository serves the large undergraduate and graduate student population and all other library visitors with access to U.S. Government information. To meet the many needs of library users, a wide range of subject areas is selected, including transportation, education, nursing, and military history. Currently, Brenda Barnes, the Head of Reference, serves as the Depository Coordinator for Government Information, and Beth Callahan is the Government Information Library Specialist.

The depository story for TCU actually begins in 1898 when the library was originally designated in Waco, Texas. After the university suffered a devastating fire, the campus moved to Fort Worth and reopened as Texas Christian University in a new U.S. Congressional District. In 1916, Representative James “Cyclone” Davis reinstated depository status for TCU in the new district.

Another part of the library’s history poignantly illustrates the library’s role in supporting the mission of the Federal Depository Library Program. Mrs. Hazel Harvey Peace, an African American educator and community leader in Fort Worth, wanted to gain library access for her debate students at a time when African Americans did not have equal access to libraries in Texas. Because the TCU Library was a Federal depository library and provided free, public access to U.S. Government information resources, Mrs. Peace and her students went to the TCU Library often and freely used the library’s depository collection for their research.

Thoughtful Collection Development

Some recent activities highlight the library’s depository collection. When the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum offered extra copies of U.S. Government publications from their collections to TCU and other Texas libraries earlier this year, TCU gratefully accepted an additional 341 volumes of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set. This acquisition helped the library achieve a more comprehensive collection of this important title.

The library just completed a four-year long collection review, conducted by the depository library staff and the library’s subject liaisons. Benefits of the project included increased knowledge about depository publications by all library personnel involved, an updated and streamlined catalog reflecting the collection review, and a more organized collection. In addition, 37 additional seats are now available to researchers in the primary depository stacks area, enabling even more researchers to work right next to documents they are using.

Promoting U.S. Government Information Resources

The library currently promotes U.S. Government information and the depository in many ways. Some of the activities include:

  • Library 101 Training Online, a digital literacy course that devotes an entire section to “Using Government Information”
  • A LibGuide that points to resources for both current and historic Government information
  • A search feature using the library’s discovery tool that accesses Government information resources
  • Rotating exhibits which incorporate replicas of current Government documents within the collection as well as electronic resources that highlight current issues; and Government information incorporated into library classes

As the library is looking ahead to break ground for a new building addition and renovation in 2013 and to continue its progress into the future, the U.S. Government Printing Office is pleased to recognize the library at TCU for its long-standing support of free, public access to U.S. Government information as a Federal depository.