DLC Virtual Meeting Recap

The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the Depository Library Council (DLC) held a productive and informative virtual meeting during the first week in December 2014. Council and GPO staff presented programs to update librarians, discuss details of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), and to solicit input on future improvements and changes. Each of the three afternoons was well attended, with over 200 participants in most of the sessions. Despite a “perfect storm” of technical glitches mid-way through the first day, GPO staff were able to quickly get the meeting back on track and ensure a productive meeting. Below are brief summaries of the sessions with links to their recordings.


Kickoff and GPO Update

The chair of the Depository Library Council, Marie Concannon, welcomed all attendees and introduced GPO Director, Davita Vance-Cooks, who gave a rousing welcome. Mary Alice Baish, Superintendent of Documents, welcomed attendees and presented an overview of FDLP activities and plans. Each director of Library Services and Content Management (LSCM) presented an update.

Laurie Hall, Director of Library Technical Services and Acting LSCM Director, announced the GPO is exploring collaborations with HathiTrust, provided updates on participation in the Cataloging Record Distribution Program, and provided askGPO statistics.

Robin Haun-Mohamed, Director of Outreach and Support, spoke about new guidance available on how to be an all, or mostly, online selective depository, and spoke about anniversary celebrations and Public Access Assessments (over 170 were done during the year). She also provided an update on training (over 100 webinars have been presented since 2012). She also reminded all that the Biennial Survey will be coming in 2015. There are plans to offer the New Depository Librarian’s Institute in the fall of 2015, in conjunction with the DLC Meeting & Federal Depository Library Conference.

Anthony D. Smith, Director of Projects and Systems, reported that the new Ben’s Guide is close to launching and that GPO will be seeking Trusted Digital Repository Certification for GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys).

National Bibliographic Records Inventory Program (NBRIP)

Laurie Hall explained that the NBRIP is an effort to provide bibliographic records and serial holdings records through GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) for fugitive material, older publications with only non-electronic bibliographic records (e.g., from the Monthly Catalog or Historic Shelflist), and publications with only minimal bibliographic records. This effort is a major, long-term undertaking by LSCM, initiated and implemented in a staggered approach as time and resources allow. The NBRIP is composed of many smaller projects, accomplished by LSCM staff, contracts, and/or cooperative cataloging projects and partnerships with depository libraries and others. The 1895 and 1898 volumes of the Monthly Catalog have been transcribed (making 9,681 MoCat records available and transcribing, with authority work completed, over 18 shelflist drawers, making 157,611 shelflist records available). FY15 Record Conversion Projects include continued transcription of the shelflist and transcription of the 1896, 1897, and 1900 volumes of the Monthly Catalog. Many universities are taking on additional projects.

The Depository Network. Part 1: More than Collections: Why Regional Services Matter in the FDLP Network

Parts 1 and 2 of The Depository Network were presented by members of the DLC who work in regional depository libraries. Many think of regional depositories only in the context of their large, physical collections. This program explored the other important functions of regionals, providing services to selective depositories and to the general public. These services fall into four major areas:

  1. training and consultation,
  2. access,
  3. reference, and
  4. leadership.

While not all regionals provide all the services mentioned during the program, the panel presented the array of services as “best practices” that all regionals should strive to provide for their selectives and for the general public.

The Depository Network. Part 2. The Importance of Being Allowed to Discard: Why Regionals Support the Draft Policy

GPO’s draft policy that will permit regional depositories to discard, under strictly controlled conditions, has generated much discussion both inside and outside the depository community. During this program, the DLC members, who work at regional depositories, discussed the reasons why regional depository coordinators and administrators overwhelmingly support implementation of the draft Superintendent of Documents policy. Lively discussion in the virtual conference chat box provided valuable questions and comments that will help GPO and the DLC as we continue to move towards the implementation of the draft policy.

Draft Discard Policy, Tell Me More

This session continued the discussion on the draft discard policy. Mary Alice Baish and Cindy Etkin explained the draft Superintendent of Documents policy that allows regional depository libraries to discard certain tangible materials from their collections. Library association reaction was shared as well as indications of how regionals might employ the policy in their libraries. Questions ranged from having the ability to discard titles beyond those authenticated FDsys collections (Answer: Not allowed in the draft policy) to what is the minimum number of copies required to be kept in tangible form across all regionals (Answer: There is no magic number. The number needed to retain is dependent upon a variety of conditions relative to the volumes). The transcripts of this chat session provide more details on the discussion.


The National Plan: A Progress Report

Superintendent of Documents Mary Alice Baish and Cindy Etkin, Senior Program Planning Specialist at GPO, discussed the National Plan, which resulted from the FDLP Forecast Study results, National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) report on GPO, and other external influences. The National Plan vision is to provide Government information when and where it is needed. Its mission is to provide readily discoverable and free public access to Federal Government information, now and for future generations.

Among the assumptions GPO made are that Government information is a national asset, and library collections of tangible and digital Government content are valuable for ensuring an informed citizenry; and that the Federal Depository Library Program continues to be relevant in the digital age. Other major assumptions are that no one library or institution can do all that is required to preserve the entire corpus of Government information and that GPO will lead and coordinate a Government‐wide strategy for managing the lifecycle of the comprehensive collection of tangible and digital Government information, in collaboration and partnerships with Federal depository libraries, Federal agencies, and additional public and private sector entities.

At the foundation of the National Plan are the Principles of Government Information that include the public’s right of access to its Government’s information, and the Government, in turn, has the obligation to disseminate and provide broad public access to its information. Government must also preserve and guarantee the authenticity and integrity of its information. Government information created or compiled by Government employees or at Government expense should remain in the public domain.

While FDLP Forecast Study findings were major considerations in the development of the National Plan, the future of access to Government information goes beyond the FDLP. The National Plan consists of three separate, but related, components that incorporate different parts of the mission. They have touch points and are dependent upon one another to successfully meet the mission and achieve the vision.

The components of the National Plan are the Federal Depository Library Program, the Cataloging and Indexing Program, and the Federal Information Preservation Network. In additional to the current regional and selective depository libraries, the FDLP will include Affiliated Federal Access Libraries that are small (fewer than 10,000 books) libraries that will provide access to online-only Government publications. The Cataloging and Indexing Program will include the National Bibliographic Records Inventory and Government information lifecycle management activities (identifying, cataloging, disseminating, and preserving). The Federal Information Preservation Network is a strategy for a collaborative network of information professionals working in various partner roles to ensure access to the national collection of Government information for future generations. The Network partners, called Access Assurance Partners, (potentially Federal depository libraries, Federal agencies, library consortia, associations, and other public sector and private sector entities) will agree to undertake any or all of the following roles: catalog, digitize, harvest, host, preserve, store, and assess collection conditions.

There are three strategic priorities for the National Plan (numerical order, not ranked):

  1. Establish processes and procedures that apply life cycle management best practices;
  2. Develop a governance process and a sustainable network structure for the FDLP; and
  3. Deliver new dynamic, innovative, strategic services and mechanisms to support FDL needs.

Goals for the first priority include allowing more flexibility in selection and distribution of FDLP content to depositories, improving quality control, increasing identification and acquisition of content, encouraging agencies to provide publications to GPO, and developing the Federal Information Preservation Network.

Online Congressional Hearing Project

Stetson University’s Barbara Costello’s 2003 and 2008 examinations of a sample of online availability of hearings led to GPO conducting a complete analysis to determine just how many 1995-2012 Congressional hearings distributed to depository libraries are not being made available on FDsys. The project will also identify hearings that lack a bibliographic record in the CGP. As of Dec. 1, 2014, the results of availability ranged from none of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearings to 94% of the House Ways and Means Committee hearings. Of the committees examined so far, more than 30% of their hearings are not available on FDsys. Laurie Hall indicated that analysis continues and the depository community will be kept informed of the progress.

Open Forum with DLC

This open session with Council and GPO staff was a lively discussion of issues raised up to this point in the conference.

Building Your Electronic Collection

Users want as much online access to documents as possible. With this in mind, Chris Brown presented four strategies to increase online access:

  1. Add links to existing catalog records to online content.
  2. Integrate HathiTrust content into your online catalog or discovery tool via OAI-PMH harvesting.
  3. Consider loading vendor-supplied MARC records for documents projects to which you subscribe (Serial Set, hearings, etc.).
  4. Feature and link to GPO information product in library guides. At the end, two link-tracking strategies were suggested to provide user data for online clicks: the GPO PURL tracking mechanism and a do-it-yourself link tracking strategy.

Presenter James Jacobs’ left attendees with three messages:

  1. Pointing is not collecting.
  2. Access is not preservation.
  3. Collection development is still key to the FDLP.

He began with scoping out the library issues and extent of the problem by contextualizing the fact that 97% of Government publications are now born-digital only. Because most Congressional bodies and Executive agencies are now publishing only online, there is a massive and growing amount of documents within scope of the FDLP that are falling through the cracks and becoming fugitive. The second portion of James’ presentation highlighted some ways that Stanford Library is continuing to collect, describe, give access to, and preserve born-digital documents through the Everyday Electronic Materials (EEMs) project for individual documents and via Web harvesting with Archive-it for .gov Web sites. James ended with a call for collaborative participation of the FDLP community in born-digital collection development to help build "FDLP reservoirs."

Law Libraries & the FDLP: Past, Present & Future

This Council presentation covered the history and variety of law libraries in the Program, ranging from Federal libraries to public law libraries and the well-represented academic law libraries. Presenters discussed collaborations among depositories, demonstrating where law librarians’ subject expertise made documents collections more useful or easier to understand. Other strengths of law library depositories included advocacy and working with legislative and administrative materials. The audience provided several examples of past and potential collaborations with law library depositories and law librarians who are Government information specialists.


Technology Planning

Anthony Smith presented the LSCM technical plan and the recent changes that have been made to it. Smith described the current planning at GPO for a replacement Integrated Library System. GPO recognizes that it is different from a library in important ways. Smith noted especially that the new system needs to support workflows unique to GPO and the FDLP. The tech plan is currently under development, and libraries can provide important input through future surveys or by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Designating Tribal College Libraries in the FDLP

This session kicked off with Council member Steve Beleu describing the history of Tribal College Libraries (TCLs) joining the FDLP prior to the current initiative, and how their recent impetus to join has been helped by the new option that selectives can become all or mostly online depositories. Prior to this option, only five TCLs had joined the FDLP, and one left the Program in 2011. Three TCLs have recently joined as online selectives:

  • Sitting Bull College, Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota, with two branches in South Dakota (also a Census Information Center);
  • Northwest Indian College, Lummi Reservation, Washington; and
  • Leech Lake Tribal College, Leech Lake Reservation, Minnesota.

We heard reports from their directors - Mark Holman for Sitting Bull, Valerie McBeth for Northwest, and Hannah Buckland for Leech Lake - about how they expect their FDLP membership will help them meet the needs and goals of their libraries to serve not only their colleges’ students, faculty, and staff, but also the communities that they serve as tribal libraries. The majority of attendees learned facts about tribal college libraries that they didn’t know, especially how their membership in the FDLP will be good for their Indian Nations.

Outer Spaces and UFOs (Unbrowseable Federal Objects): Developing Best Practices for Storing and Retrieving Documents in On-site and Off-site Storage

In this session, the Council Off-site Storage Working Group presented the results of the survey they conducted in October to determine where and how depository libraries house their collections. The session started with an overview of the legal requirements related to housing documents received through the FDLP and then delved into the survey results. The data collected from survey, as well as feedback received from the discussion during the session, will be used in the coming months to develop best practices for on-site and off-site storage of tangible resources received through the FDLP.

Open Forum with DLC and DLC Recap of Emerging Issues

At the final open forum session, attendees were invited to comment on and contribute to the discussion of the programs and the issues raised. A lively discussion in the chat forum and among Council and GPO staff segued into the Recap and Wrap-up session. This was designed to allow Council to discuss (and attendees to comment on) issues raised during the meeting and to identify potential areas where Council recommendations would be useful. At in-person meetings in the past, these recommendations were presented - either complete or as drafts - during the last session. In this virtual format, Council instead used the time to discuss and listen to attendees. In the week after the conference, Council worked to develop more formal recommendations.

Recommendation #1: GPO Collaborate with Discovery Vendors to Expose Full Text of FDsys

Council recommends that GPO collaborate with the major discovery tools (EDS from Ebsco, Primo from ExLibris, Summon from ProQuest, and WorldCat Discovery from OCLC) to develop a sustainable model of exposing all FDsys content to their respective search engines.


  • Discovery tools go beyond the indexing and searching of metadata; they also search the full text of a large swath of journal and book content. Although records for government publications (including CGP records) are often indexed in these discovery tools, the lack of full text searching of government content and the presence of full text searching of other content creates a “backgrounding” effect for the government content, making it much less discoverable than it was in the days when all searching was metadata searching.
  • Discovery tools generally do not function by doing a broadcast search out to a source, nor do they merely harvest metadata through technologies such as OAI-PMH. Rather, they prefer to have the full content (indexing and full text) in a single search “pot” to expose all content to their search algorithms.
  • Discovery tools are becoming popular with libraries and user communities. Not being available to a discovery service in 2015 is nearly as bad as being left out of Google’s index in 2005. Therefore, it is important for GPO to be proactive in delivering data to discovery tool vendors, lest important yet undervalued resources wind up stranded and invisible to the standard tools of researchers. GPO’s data must be where the end users are.
  • This method would involve not just a one-time loading of full text FDsys content, but an incremental (weekly or monthly) addition of new content.

Recommendation #2: Commitment to a Semiannual Meeting Schedule Including In-Person Events

Council commends the Government Publishing Office (GPO) on the success of the December 2014 Depository Library Council Virtual Meeting.  To support the continuing viability of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) in light of this success, Council recommends GPO return to its pattern of convening semi-annual Depository Library Council meetings in a public forum for the benefit of the depository community, with at least one of these being an in-person meeting.  The in-person meetings would ideally be regularly scheduled at a time of year that best accommodates the depository community and GPO while avoiding the possibility of cancellation due to Federal government shutdown.


For almost 40 years, the Depository Library Council (DLC) met in person each spring and fall to discuss FDLP issues in Council meetings as well as with the GPO and the community at large.  Twenty-two years ago, the GPO began holding Federal Depository Conferences concurrently with DLC meetings to further enhance learning experiences for the depository community.

In 2011, GPO announced that it would scale back in-person meetings to one each year.  In 2013, the government shutdown forced GPO to postpone the fall meeting, resulting in an 18 month gap between in-person meetings.  Based on the recent announcement that the next DLC meeting/FDL conference will be held in fall 2015, it appears that another 18 months may pass between in-person meetings.

Council recommends resuming a semiannual public meeting schedule that includes at least one face-to-face DLC Meeting/Federal Depository Library Conference each year.  Regular face-to-face meetings will allow Council to conduct business without losing members to local interruptions and distractions that often accompany virtual meetings, and extend the same privilege to all others who attend.  More importantly, in-person meetings provide participants essential networking opportunities that cannot happen in a virtual environment.

Attendance figures for the DLC Meeting and Conference in April/May 2014 and the Depository Library Council Virtual Meeting in December 2014 clearly demonstrate that the depository community is still interested to participate in regular meetings.  Resuming a semiannual meeting schedule will facilitate Council’s work while at the same time fostering communication amongst and between the depository community and Council.  The varied opportunities for DLC to connect with the community will allow it to better advise GPO on matters related to an ever-evolving FDLP.

FDLP Connection Archive

We have sunsetted the FDLP Connection with the July / August 2018 issue and will not be publishing the Connection anymore. We’ve enjoyed bringing the FDLP Connection to the community over the years! You can still view past issues. View full archive (2011-2018).