The Elmer Ellis Library at the University of Missouri-Columbia

In 1862, a Missouri library in a heavily pro-Confederate county joined the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). Imagine, in the middle of the Civil War, in an area hostile to Washington D.C., a library determined that free public access to Government documents was essential, so they made the courageous decision to become a depository and collect materials from the Union Government. That library was at the University of Missouri-Columbia, which 150 years later, serves as the regional depository for the state of Missouri.

Under the leadership of several highly-qualified coordinators, including current coordinator, Marie Concannon, the library has helped develop a tremendous sense of partnership, community, and innovation in the state. This spirit of cooperation has led to many creative ways to ensure that all residents of Missouri can access the Government information they need.

A significant way that this is accomplished is through the use of regional partners. The Elmer Ellis Library at the University of Missouri has six regional partners. Each of these partners house portions of the regional collection of record and, as they also are designated Federal depository libraries, they continue to ensure that Government information is readily available to those who need it.

The University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, for example, houses the state’s collection of Air Force materials. Because the university is located near an Air Force base and offers courses in aviation, these materials are in a location where they will be most used.

The largest regional partner is the library at Washington University in St. Louis. They house the most materials of any of the partners and have been able to use their partnership with Elmer Ellis Library to amass one of the best civil rights collections in the state.

Barbara Rehkop, the coordinator at Washington University, also partners with the regional depository in other ways. Because St. Louis is the most heavily-populated area in the state, they have devised a plan to ensure that that area is served almost as if it is a region of its own. Ms. Rehkop conducts training sessions, meetings, and helps coordinate the exchange of documents in the area to ensure that the majority of people in Missouri can easily access depository materials and services.

The University of Missouri School of Law Library, Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, and Missouri Southern State University in Joplin also partner with the regional to house parts of the state’s depository collection. These agreements bolster free public access to these materials by thoughtfully placing them in the areas and institutions where they will receive the most use.

In addition to collaborating to house depository materials, depositories in the state cooperate to promote the FDLP. A good example of this is a program that is currently underway to cover the state with public services announcements for the FDLP. This state initiative arose from a recent trip Ms. Concannon made to Washington D.C. to promote the FDLP to Missouri’s Congressional delegation. She was told that constituents typically come to them with misinformation. She is determined to put a stop to that.

Ms. Concannon also connects Government information with those who need it by offering unclaimed duplicates to non-depository institutions both within and outside the state. The Nixon Presidential Library, the Maine Law and Legislative Library, the State Historical Society of Missouri, and the National World War I Museum have all benefited from this generosity. By doing this, she continues to exemplify the spirit of the FDLP.

The Elmer Ellis Library at the University of Missouri-Columbia will soon observe its 150th anniversary as a Federal depository library. This commemoration promises to be creative, collaborative, and inspiring. The entire depository community looks forward to helping Marie, Barbara, and all Missouri depositories celebrate this milestone. Here is to another 150 years!