Valdosta State University Odum Library in Georgia

Valdosta State University Odum Library.

About 10% of Federal depository library collections are located in small, general academic libraries with fewer than 250,000 volumes in the library. Valdosta State University’s Odum Library in Valdosta, Georgia is one of these library partners. The library celebrated its 50th anniversary as a Federal depository library in 2006 with a major celebration keynoted by U.S. Representative Jack Kingston.

Being farther away from major metropolitan areas than most other Federal depositories in Georgia, the library collects in many broad subject areas. The library serves the university community, the area’s business and agricultural communities, K-12 students, and others in the general public. The library also supports referrals from the local public library system.

Library staff at smaller libraries often wear many hats to cover the full spectrum of operations and services. Odum Library is organized so that all library employees have a government documents hat in some sense, working to ensure that the best possible service is provided to government information researchers at the library. The library has a Government Documents Staff Training Policy to ensure that all library staff are familiar with the depository mission and knowledgeable to address government information questions in their sections of the library. To take full advantage of library staff expertise, the depository is managed through a long-standing successful shared coordination between two librarians. Ken Smith is the Public Services Government Documents Librarian, and Guy Frost is the Technical Services Government Documents Librarian. Responsibilities in technical and public services are clearly established, but each librarian also stays knowledgeable of overall depository management issues through assistance in special projects and professional involvement as officers in the Government Documents Interest Group of the Georgia Library Association.

The library is a solid depository, with a Government Documents Mission Statement, access policy, collection development policy, and staff training policy on its Government Documents Web pages. The library staff proactively seek out government publications the library had not previously acquired to support new university programs and new community information needs. The collection is fully cataloged from 1976 to the present. Retrospective cataloging is underway to make the collection fully accessible through the library catalog.

The library staff reach out to their users to help them understand government publications in many other ways. Some of the library activities include: developing and distributing a pamphlet about the depository to public libraries in the local area; housing the library’s (Georgia State and U.S.) government documents collections near the library’s reference desk; developing separate and course-integrated Web resources with government information (e.g., a resource on the 2008 election); providing tax forms; and, serving as a site for voter registration. The coordinators also present at library meetings and conferences that reach libraries outside of the FDLP. At recent conferences, they presented on topics such as STAT-USA and “Beyond the Dept. of Education” to audiences that included public, school, and academic librarians as well as education faculty.

Valdosta is in southern Georgia, very close to Florida. The university is a Regional University in the University System of Georgia, and has about 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Valdosta State University is now home to a newly accredited library school, the only one in Georgia. It’s wonderful for these students to have such ready access to U.S. Government publications, and the Odum Library provides a great example of a solid Federal depository library with knowledgeable library personnel to help mentor the students to become librarians well-versed in U.S. Government information and the Federal Depository Library Program.