Indiana State Library Celebrates 50 Years As A Regional Federal Depository Library

James Madison: “A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” This is the essence of libraries and the basis upon which libraries function.

On July 30, 1963, Robert McClarren, State Librarian of Indiana, signed the agreement with the U.S. Government Printing Office’s (GPO) Superintendent of Documents that established the Indiana State Library as a regional depository library. Although the State Library was not “officially” recognized as a regional library until 1963, it has collected and maintained a comprehensive collection of Federal documents since its inception as Indiana’s first state agency in 1825.

After the Indiana State Capitol was moved from Corydon to Indianapolis, legislative action was taken at the first session of the Indiana General Assembly on February 11, 1825 to establish a state library. The approved act provided that books then in the office of the Indiana Secretary of State, together with such as might be added later, would constitute the Indiana State Library. The Indiana Secretary of State was to act as librarian, keeping a catalog of the books and a record of loans. Three historic indexes show the extensive Federal documents holdings at the Indiana State Library collection, including:  “Catalogue of Materials in the Indiana State Library, February 15, 1825”; “Indiana State Library Catalogue, December 1, 1837”; and “Catalogue of Books in the State Library, January 20, 1845.”

In 1831 an act authorized the Indiana Secretary of State to purchase “two of Tanner’s maps of the United States of the latest edition” to be preserved in the library. In 1832, he was also authorized to purchase Gales and Seaton’s Register of Debates in Congress. In 1833, he was instructed to purchase a full set of Niles’ Register.

In a Federal document titled, Report on Designated Depository Libraries showing conditions on April 16, 1923 under the selective plan first authorized by Public Act 171, 67th Congress with List of Designated Depository Libraries Revised to July 1, 1923, the Indiana State Library is listed as a “nearly all” depository. This indicated that the Indiana State Library was selecting over 2/3 of the publications distributed by GPO. There was also a handwritten note of the Indiana State Library’s copy of the document indicating that it selected everything published by GPO.

The Federal documents collection was also highlighted in an article from the Indianapolis News on February 14, 1925. The articled covered the Indiana State Library’s celebration of its centennial and stated that “it is a depository for the documents published in the United States.”

Fast forward many decades later with the depository act of 1962; this law allowed for doubling the number of depositories permitted per Congressional District, added libraries of independent Federal agencies, and authorized the creation of regional depository libraries. The Indiana State Library was designated a regional Federal depository for the State of Indiana by Senator Vance Hartke on January 29, 1963, with acceptance by the State Librarian on July 30, 1963.

The Indiana State Library to date holds one of the most comprehensive depository collections in the nation. It will continue to grow and preserve its Federal documents collection into the future through constant improvement of traditional collection management practices and by embracing modern technologies that provide for the preservation and indexing of Federal documents born digitally. The Indiana State Library looks forward to another 50 years of serving Hoosiers and other researches across the globe.

Learn more about the Indiana State Library’s 50-Year FDLP anniversary as a regional depository library and its extensive Federal documents collection.

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