FDLP

The Essential FDLP: Share Your Experiences with GPO

Why is the FDLP and free access to Government information important? How has the FDLP helped you? GPO wants to share your thoughts and spread the word in your communities, and we need your help.

GPO’s Library Services & Content Management is gathering stories, testimonials, and short videos about the importance, value, and vital nature of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) and Government information.

Examples might include:

  • Reference success stories
  • Illustrations of a time when Government information helped a member of your community
  • Testimonials received from patrons
  • Any words you have to say about the importance of the FDLP
  • Descriptions of how Government information was used in your teaching or your work
  • Your favorite Government publication

We will collect, publish, and share the stories to promote the FDLP as the program continues to evolve in the 21st century.

Use this image on your library’s website and on social media and print this flyer for posting at your reference desk to encourage patrons to contribute their testimonials.

FDLP community veterans may recall a similar effort undertaken by the Depository Library Council in 1993 to collect statements from patrons about the value of the FDLP. ‘Fulfilling Madison’s Vision' presented a remarkable collection of FDLP testimonials illustrating the importance and reach of the FDLP.

As we work to further demonstrate FDLP value in the 21st century and beyond, please consider sharing your thoughts and experiences.

Testimonials

I put out a podcast (Civil Discourse) based on government documents, from the U.S. Constitution to the Nomination of Alex Azar. We start with the document, asking questions and trying to understand how the government work, or could work better. It is a casual conversation, intended to inform but also spark thought and conversation. Civil Discourse is possible due to open access to federal government documents!

—Stephani L Rodgers, Public Affairs Librarian, Virginia Commonwealth University, James Branch Cabell Library

The best check and balance systems require folks to have access to accurate information from (and about the workings of) the government. How else can we have an educated populace that votes in its own favor?

—Stephani L Rodgers, Public Affairs Librarian, Virginia Commonwealth University, James Branch Cabell Library

Budgets are a big issue with libraries so one of the advantages about being a federal depository is that we obtain our collection for free and can work with other depositories to receive resources or documents that may be needed, also free of charge. We receive documents that are current, relevant, and can be used as main primary source. Documents are also usually received before the library purchases published books on certain topics, such as ISIS, Mueller Report, Space Force, etc.

—Whitney Gerwitz, Government Documents Coordinator, St. Charles City-County Library District, Middendorf-Kredell branch

Libraries are advocates for open and free information with librarians being information warriors, which is exactly what a federal depository brings to the community. Our residents deserve transparency with their government. As a democratic society, free information is pertinent to a free society, and as a depository, we provide that free information and have the resources to continue providing that information even during times of a governmental transition or shutdown.

—Whitney Gerwitz, Government Documents Coordinator, St. Charles City-County Library District, Middendorf-Kredell branch

Our Government Documents branch also specializes in health literacy, and we can use our documents to assist with directing people to Medicare answers, government grants for nursing homes, health statistics from the CDC and Health & Human Services, and much more. One specific instance I remember is a patron wanting the status of a bill that had been introduced multiple times in Congress regarding Medicare. She wanted to know what organizations were lobbying for this specific bill, which I was able to find, so she could personally reach out to these organizations and help fight for this bill.

Another demographic we work with is our veteran population. St. Charles County is the home for over 20,000 veterans and we have plenty of resources to help veterans find assistance whether they just left the service or are veterans from past conflicts. I have worked with Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange find federal information that will help them in their medical cases with the VA.

The list of patrons is endless when it comes to finding government aid or knowing what their rights and benefits are as an individual whether it's regarding the workplace, disability, healthcare, etc. Libraries are taking on a lot of social roles within the community, and I believe Federal Depositories have an advantage with this. We have the resources to search, the networks to utilize, and we know what is happening within the federal government and the changes that may take place regarding a certain bill. I always say we offer government information, not government assistance, but offering information is the first step in offering assistance.

—Whitney Gerwitz, Government Documents Coordinator, St. Charles City-County Library District, Middendorf-Kredell branch

Without the FDLP there is no way we would have such a connected and collaborative program that spans the entire nation and allows citizens and non-citizens alike to have free access to important government documents, some which literally form the basis of our democracy, and some which provide access to valuable information not available from anybody else.

—Charlie Amiot, Student Services and Outreach Law Librarian, University of Kentucky, College of Law Library

Many of the documents create the foundation of democracy in the United States, and the rest just have really cool information that isn't found just anywhere else. Government information can be a valuable tool that also creates a shared responsibility between the federal government and the people.

—Charlie Amiot, Student Services and Outreach Law Librarian, University of Kentucky, College of Law Library

I use my local Federal depository library because I'm getting the information straight from the source, and it is often accompanied by librarians who know how to best guide my usage of it.

—Charlie Amiot, Student Services and Outreach Law Librarian, University of Kentucky, College of Law Library

I'm now a law librarian, but I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for two amazing FDLP librarians, Peggy Roebuck Jarrett and Cassandra Hartnett. Their support of me throughout my program is the reason I completed my program, and I found a love of and a passion for government documents through their love and passion for the materials. I commemorated my graduation by getting the FDLP logo tattooed onto me. It was the perfect tribute to both them and what the FDLP means to me.

—Charlie Amiot, Student Services and Outreach Law Librarian, University of Kentucky, College of Law Library

It often surprises me how many government documents address so many facets of our daily lives. There are documents that deal with nutrition, health, environmental concerns, space, history, veterans’ affairs, sources of energy, agriculture, business concerns, finances, taxes, and other areas of which we need to be aware.

—Holli Redden, Government Documents Assistant, Columbus State University

Free access to government information is important so that the public has easily accessible, accurate, and up-to-date information made available to them. The public can then use that information to make decisions that are necessary, and often crucial, to everyday life.

—Holli Redden, Government Documents Assistant, Columbus State University

During the last presidential election, our FDLP collection was used almost daily by patrons doing research about speeches that had been made and other information about past presidents and also about candidates that were running for election. I think that it is essential that the public educate themselves to know how to make good choices about the officials that they seek to elect.

—Holli Redden, Government Documents Assistant, Columbus State University

Documents made available through the FDLP are up-to-date and easy to access.

—Holli Redden, Government Documents Assistant, Columbus State University

Keeping the community informed access to quality information not only educates the community, but also keep our community informed, from immigration, social security or other education policies that help educate the community and next generation.

—Alice Sherwood, Librarian, Houston Public Library

Government agencies provide a variety of information in various formats, and its information provided is more than we realize and it is important to keep these documents to see history over time, keep the community informed with authoritative information.

—Alice Sherwood, Librarian, Houston Public Library

To see related information of updated laws, as Houston has it own Johnson Space Center, and a huge veteran population. It is cool to view these Hubble space books, presidential papers, recent biographical and memorabilia published by the government that we can be sure it is authenticated information.

—Alice Sherwood, Librarian, Houston Public Library

New tools and apps on the government agencies gets developed all the time in the days of the 21st century helping us location new information with appropriate tools through tools such as American Fact Finder and Tiger. As our old collection is getting more fragile over time as it ages, it is important to keep ourselves informed and stay in the FDLP to engage ourselves in the new tools provided to help our customers and ourselves access this information pertaining to the needs of the community.

—Alice Sherwood, Librarian, Houston Public Library

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It is immensely important that public citizens and private researchers have access to these federal documents, so we can understand how our government has worked and does work. It's essential to our democracy.

—Kim O’Connell, Writer, The Library of Virginia

As a Virginia Humanities fellow at the Library of Virginia, I was conducting research about the Vietnamese immigrant and refugee experience in Virginia. The Library’s collection of federal records yielded several congressional reports from the mid-1970s illustrating how the U.S. government grappled with the question of what it owed postwar refugees from Southeast Asia . . . Despite the divisiveness that characterized the Vietnam War era, these records revealed that members of Congress, regardless of their political persuasion, were united in their empathy about the plight of refugees. I also found a March 1970 State Department primer with helpful facts on the Vietnamese people, land, and history . . . Finally, I was most taken with the inclusion in federal reports of documentary photographs by Life magazine photographer Dick Swanson, who captured images such as Vietnamese children crowded together on bare mattresses, long lines of refugees waiting for meals, and a woman in the traditional Vietnamese long dress (ao dai ) searching a printout for the names of missing family members. That was moving and painted a true picture of a tumultuous time.

—Kim O’Connell, Writer, The Library of Virginia

 

 

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Simon Schwob Memorial Library at Columbus State University, Columbus, Georgia.

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"The best check and balance systems require folks to have access to accurate information from (and about the workings of) the government. How else can we have an educated populace that votes in its own favor?"

Stephani L Rodgers, Public Affairs Librarian, Virginia Commonwealth University, James Branch Cabell Library

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“I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for two amazing FDLP librarians, Peggy Roebuck Jarrett and Cass Hartnett. I found a love of and a passion for Government documents through their love and passion for the materials. I commemorated my graduation by getting my FDLP logo tattoo. It was the perfect tribute to both them and what the FDLP means to me.”

Charlie Amiot, Student Services and Outreach Law Librarian, University of Kentucky, College of Law Library