62,879. What does this number represent? In square miles it might hypothetically be the 21st largest state in the United States; in reality it represents the total square miles of land in Nebraska's 3rd U.S. Congressional District. This large district is served by two Federal Depository Libraries. One of these is the Federal Depository Library at the University of Nebraska - Kearney’s Calvin T. Ryan Library. Its Depository is this month’s featured library for the Library Spotlight.
Calvin T. Ryan Library has the challenge of providing depository services to a very large geographic area. A quote from its collection development policy shows that the library has decided to recognize and embrace this reality and its implications for the library:
"Calvin T. Ryan Library and the other smaller federal depository 300 miles west of Kearney are responsible for providing service to a geographical area covering approximately two-thirds of the state of Nebraska, comprising the Third Congressional District: 62,879 square miles (Nebraska: 76,877 square miles). The nearest depository to the east is 130 miles away in Lincoln and all other federal depositories in Nebraska are east of Lincoln. There are no depositories in Nebraska to the north or south of Kearney. Collection development parameters for C. T. Ryan Library, therefore, are different than would be the case if another federal government documents depository was nearby."
From the above statement flow the public access, internet usage, and collection development policies that the library has created and implemented.
The public access policy in place provides the broadest range of library users access to the building and the materials held there. One of the strengths of the policy is the statement, “There are no restrictions on who may use the library”. This policy further explains that though it considers its primary users to be the students, faculty, and staff of the university community, it is open to persons outside of that community including residents of Kearney, the adjacent region and the state of Nebraska as a whole.
The library’s openness also applies to providing access to electronic materials. There are the various and, at times, competing needs and expectations of the different groups utilizing the library. For example faculty and students need computers to do university-related library research, while other users seek to use the facilities for non-curricular activities. Another challenge can be loading software or programs onto computers where installation may be blocked for security reasons. For those researching government publications on CD-ROMs or DVDs, the library provides a computer where these products are loaded and viewed. The library has stated clearly that searching for Government Information on the Internet is library research and takes priority over recreational computer use. With over 90 computers in the building, access is seldom a problem.
Another response to the large region served by the depository is the broad range of Government Information that it makes available. In terms of United States government information, the library is a selective depository with a selection rate of over 50% of FDLP materials. Nebraska state information is available in the Nebraska State Government Collection. The depository also provides access to information concerning the city of Kearney, Buffalo County, and the Platte River region in general. International information is provided as well and is available from an International Resources web page.
The library offers this range of Government Information using a Web site with an uncluttered design that makes it easy to navigate. Online materials are emphasized whenever possible. For example the “Quick Facts” page of the United States Government Documents collection features a list of materials broken down into the following four sections: General, Legislative, Executive and Judicial. Under each section is a list of selected Web sites and publications. An individual entry will include at least the name of a government entity or the title of a publication which are also links to the government entity’s Web site or an electronic version of the publication.
In addition to outreach through its website, this Depository reaches out to the many small libraries in its region through presentations and library publications. Secondary students in the region receive an introduction to Government Information through the library's active program of welcoming research visits to the library.
Libraries face many different types of challenges. The Depository at the University of Nebraska - Kearney has the challenge of being the service point for a very large geographic area. The Depository has responded to this by expanding the scope of their collections to address the various scholarly and community information needs and format preferences of their area. For their dedication to extending their service area and to free access to government information, GPO would like to thank the UNK library and its staff.