Depository Spotlight: San Francisco Public Library

Originally designated as a Federal depository 128 years ago in 1889, the San Francisco Public Library’s partnership with the Federal Depository Library Program is the library’s oldest continuing partnership. Today, the Government Information Center at the Main Library continues to support the San Francisco Public Library System, as well as other libraries in Northern California, with access to information by and about the Government and does so in an exemplary manner.

The Government Information Center focuses on political science, law, patents and trademarks, and environmental information and has Government publications from all jurisdictions. Its busy public service desk on the fifth floor of the beautiful Main Library downtown serves many different types of researchers. Just some of their fascinating research questions have addressed the location where Japanese diplomats were held after the attack on Pearl Harbor and before their repatriation, the legal status of war brides during WWII, how much money was spent on and by women under the G.I. Bill, the CPI of San Francisco for all items in 1980, 1985, 1990 and 1995 tied to 1967 as the base year, and the text of the never-introduced Federal bill regarding forty acres and a mule.

The Center highlights resources through rotating exhibits, which often feature a video and publications in several different exhibit cases.

  • Currently, you may see the “Summer of Love and Haight: Sex, Drugs and Runaways,” which features resources from the San Francisco, California, and Federal publications collections. One display case highlights Federal pamphlets from the late 1960s, and another features a Congressional Record volume showing a discussion about the problem of runaways in San Francisco and New York. This exhibit is part of the Library’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.
  • Recently, in response to researcher requests for information by and about Alexander Hamilton after Hamilton: An American Musical debuted in San Francisco, an exhibit featured reports by Hamilton in the American State Papers from 1790 and in the Annals of Congress from 1834.

The Center has an extensive, historic collection of Federal publications they thoughtfully manage. This requires deep knowledge of the community, as well as the structure of Government, current and historically. They have developed numerous processes that the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) considers best practices, including:

  • Enhancing catalog records by analyzing serials, including the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, and adding additional subject headings reflecting local interest. For example:
  • Reviewing the entire Superintendent of Documents collection, with a goal of full retrospective cataloging.
  • Reviewing new receipts and including collection management notes in an internal opac field, allowing for later generation of system reports.
  • Reviewing each publication before it is shelved, which has helped to identify unique and valuable resources of local and regional interest. In some cases, the library is one of only a few libraries in the country or the only public library in California which holds the publication.

GPO congratulates the Government Information Center at San Francisco Public Library for their outstanding work enhancing access to their large, historic collection and for their services to the library’s many researchers.

Depository Library Spotlight

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FDLP Connection Archive

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