The Robert L. Carothers Library – University of Rhode Island

Nestled in a small New England college town, the University of Rhode Island (URI) is the state’s land grant institution and is a member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program. The university traces its roots to an agricultural experimental station established in 1889. Members of this station founded a marine biology laboratory in 1895 that is now known as the Jerusalem Coast Fisheries Laboratory. It is one of the oldest operating marine laboratories in the United States and is now run by Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. The URI went on to establish its own marine laboratory in 1936. With origins such as these, it comes as no surprise that the URI has developed a strong ongoing tradition of research concerning the environment and the management of natural resources along with many other fields of study pursued by faculty and students. Designated as depository library in 1907, URI’s library has been part and parcel of this tradition.

Deborah Mongeau is the depository coordinator. She is very active in promoting awareness and use of the collection by means of Web pages, LibGuides, displays, and instruction. She collaborates with the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies (GSLIS) by offering students field experience opportunities by creating LibGuides and displays for the collection. Deborah often hires GSLIS students to work in the depository as staff, allowing the students to experience the daily operations of a depository library.

 The Government Publications Web page is an informative page which outlines:

  • Types of materials the depository collects.
  • Location of the Government Publications in the library.
  • Contact information, including phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
  • How individuals and groups may request orientations on the use of Government publications.

The page also includes the link, How to find government publications and information, that leads to a comprehensive list of Government information LibGuides created at the library. There are 24 guides available via the Government, Politics, and Law subject page, which, in turn, lead to in-depth guides on a variety of subjects. Some of the guides are lists of resources with short introductions to each individual resource. Other guides add instructional content about resources, helping the user quickly understand the resource, learn how to use it, and identify contact information for the Government Publication Office, the depository coordinator, and the reference desk. The types of resources linked to include books, articles, agency Web sites, and over 25 databases including the Homeland Security Digital Library, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Inventory, and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Databases.

The guide to Tracing a Bill is an excellent example of a guide that is both a list of resources and a “how to” instructional page. The page contains a brief introduction to the process explaining how a bill becomes a law. The remainder of the guide is divided into four sections corresponding to the steps a bill goes through as it is processed through Congress. Each section contains links to resources corresponding to the individual procedural step. Government information tools cited in this guide are a mix of commercial resources and items distributed through the FDLP. These include the Congressional Record, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, and the Journal of the House of Representatives, just a to name three found on the U.S. Government Printing Office’s (GPO’s) Federal Digital System (FDsys).

Currently, the depository materials are housed in two locations. The majority of the collection is housed at the Robert L. Carothers Library, which is located on the main campus in Kingston. Materials such as NOAA charts are kept at the Pell Marine Science Library supporting the students and faculty of the Graduate School of Oceanography, located on the nearby Narragansett Bay Campus.

While the coordinator, depository staff, and students have created many online tools to promote and provide access to Government publications, they have also created many physical displays in the library. The coordinator used the National Archives and Records Administration’s list of top 100 documents that shaped U.S. history to create an exhibit about historical Government documents entitled, "Our Documents: The 10 Most Influential Documents in U.S. History.” Using 10 documents, the exhibit showcased not only the documents but also interpretations and controversies surrounding the documents. The coordinator also regularly displays new Government publications of interest. Brand new this spring, the library is featuring an online display, "Peeps in Government Publications," on the library’s Facebook page

Deborah Mongeau is active in the Government Documents community in Rhode Island and the New England region, participating in the Rhode Island State Plan for Government documents, the Consortium of Rhode Island Academic and Research Libraries Government Document Committee, and the Government Publications Librarians of New England.

The Federal depository at the URI’s Robert L. Carothers Library is very proactive and goes to great lengths to promote, explain, and provide access to Federal Government publications.