Southern Methodist University’s Fondren Library Center

The December 2011 Federal Depository Library Spotlight is focused on a library that does an excellent job of making their tangible collection and digital publications accessible to users: Southern Methodist University’s Fondren Library Center, part of the Central University Libraries. Located in Texas and just north of downtown Dallas, Southern Methodist University was founded in 1911 and has nearly 11,000 students that come from all states and the District of Columbia. The Fondren Library Center is one of nine libraries on campus and has been a Federal depository library since 1925. Located on the first floor of the Fondren Library, the Government Information Resources section benefits from abundant natural light and long, wooden study tables. This makes it a popular study area, according to the Documents Coordinator, and is a “first stop” for primary documents for research.

The homepage of the Central University Libraries has a convenient link to “Government Information Resources,” and the Fondren Library Center homepage also has a prominent link to “Government Documents.” Julia Stewart, Research Librarian, has been the Government Documents Coordinator at Fondren Library Center since 2007. She is the creator of several research guides on topics related to her subject areas of specialization: business, economics, Government information resources, human rights, political science, public policy, and statistical science. The Government Information Resources research guide displays the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) eagle emblem and describes the participation of the Central University Libraries in the FDLP. The guide’s tabbed areas have information such as:

  • Superintendents of Documents classification
  • Citing Government information
  • Data and statistics that are collected and found in Government sources
  • Multiple links directly to Federal agencies

It also includes more information on the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), the Government Accountability Office, Congressional Research Service Reports, and RSS feeds from The guide features a MetaLib search widget on the homepage so that users can directly access GPO’s federated search tool.

Julia is involved in outreach efforts at the library, such as speaking to groups on campus or working with the library Open House, and she noted that a current display of Government documents has staff favorites from the Government Information Resources collection, such as “Cleaning Up With Lasagna” from the Environmental Protection Agency.

One of the library’s noteworthy accomplishments regarding access to Government documents is the digitized collection of Historic Government Publications from World War II. The collection contains 343 documents of various types: pamphlets, reports, speeches, regulations, and propaganda materials, among others. These documents were distributed by GPO during World War II, and the collection is among one of multiple GPO content partnerships designed to ensure permanent public access to electronic U.S. Government information.

Some of the titles available that are indicative of the nature of the digitized collection include:

  • Effective Industrial Use of Women in the Defense Program
  • Farmer: Send your Logs to War
  • If your Baby Must Travel in Wartime (illustrated by Gluyas Williams)
  • Insecticides are Ammunition: Use them Wisely
  • Make-overs from Men's Suits
  • Pitch In and Help!: The Women's Land Army Calls 800,000 Women to the Farm in 1944
  • Potatoes in Popular Ways

Conservation of resources and working toward a common national goal are just a few of the sentiments expressed in these wartime documents. The wording of the documents reflects the language of the time and the concerns of that period of history.

In the near future, the Southern Methodist University community will have an additional source for Government documents research. The George W. Bush Presidential Library is slated to open on the campus of the school in 2013. In addition to the traditional tangible documents that will be housed there, the library will feature photographs, videotapes, artifacts, and millions of electronic records that document the Bush administration of 2001-2009. For those engaged in presidential research, this future institution brings the promise of enhanced access to primary documents in addition to those already found at the Fondren Library Center.

For all these efforts in ensuring both physical and virtual access to its Federal depository resources, GPO would like to acknowledge and thank the Fondren Library Center at Southern Methodist University.