Roberts-LaForge Library at Delta State University

Question: which Federal depository library has a vegetable wearing boxing gloves for an unofficial university mascot? If you know, then it’s no surprise that the ‘Fighting Okras’ at Delta State University’s Roberts-LaForge Library are the focus of this month’s Federal Depository Library spotlight.

Located in Cleveland, Mississippi, this public university has a current enrollment of some 4,000 students from 34 states and 20 countries. Since its founding as a teacher’s college in 1924 it has branched out into diverse areas, although teacher education is still a strength of the curriculum. More recently the university has expanded into programs such as commercial aviation and geospatial interdisciplinary technology. As the name implies, the university lies in the Mississippi Delta in the northwestern part of the state, an area that is chiefly rural and agricultural. The Roberts-LaForge Library, located in the 2nd U.S. Congressional District for the state, has been a member of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) since 1975.

Accessibility to resources is a core principle for a Federal depository library. The collection at Roberts-LaForge Library is open and accessible to the public, with evening and weekend hours as well. There are numerous computers in the main area of the library available for public use. According to the Internet Use Policy, “All public workstations are available to serve the Delta State and Delta area communities.” The library is centrally located in the town of Cleveland and has many community users.

Electronic access to depository resources—and Federal government information in general—is enhanced by user-friendly research guides compiled by the depository coordinator. The Reference Section guide lists information by subject areas such as agriculture, education, and health. The Finding Statistics guide takes a similar approach, listing numerous Federal government information sources by general subject areas, underscoring the value of statistics to multiple curriculums. Links to the online source of data as well as call numbers for the tangible resource are included where applicable. Not just lists of links, both guides have brief annotations which describe each resource and their relevance and usefulness for research. Since the next closest depository library is over 100 miles away, referrals to other libraries for physical materials can be impractical, thus making the existing tangible and virtual library resources even more significant.

Depository resources and services are not useful if they are invisible or hard to find. The library displays the FDLP eagle emblem decal in two places on the front doors of the library entrance; reference service for the collection is provided at the main reference desk, located near the entrance on the 1st floor of the library. Signage in the Government Documents area draws attention to the physical space and directs users to the content. Visibility is not only a vital component of depository libraries in the physical sense; the virtual, online identity is just as important. Information on Federal government documents is linked from the library’s home page, while the FDLP eagle emblem is prominently and graphically displayed on several of the Web pages of the library.

The depository coordinator, David Salinero, wears many hats: reference librarian, government documents specialist, and instructional services librarian. David joined the library in 1999 and became the government documents librarian in 2001. The depository coordinator works with colleagues when they prepare instruction sessions to suggest relevant government information and statistical sources. He has been active in professional events and activities, serving as Chair of the Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT) section within the Mississippi Library Association and attending the Spring Federal Depository Library Council meeting in Buffalo, New York. He has presented at regional conferences, written for scholarly publications, and also contributed to the Browse Topics project. The library technology associate, Dianne Schattner, is a long-time employee at the library who assists with the government documents and adds her expertise to the management of the collection.

One librarian at the Roberts-LaForge Library, Ann Ashmore, received a National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) Outreach Express Award to conduct 6 outreach workshops in the region; these included electronic government information sources related to consumer health information literacy. The grant included peer training on these resources and the creation of promotional items for public distribution. Sessions for public and school librarians are also held in the library and the coordinator noted that Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids and THOMAS have been included in the sessions.

GPO would like to thank the library staff and administration at the Roberts-LaForge Library at Delta State University for their many efforts to afford access, increase visibility, and provide a number of services through the Federal Depository Library Program.

Depository Library Spotlight

Read about previous libraries that were highlighted in the Depository Library Spotlight.

FDLP Connection Archive

We have sunsetted the FDLP Connection with the July / August 2018 issue and will not be publishing the Connection anymore. We’ve enjoyed bringing the FDLP Connection to the community over the years! You can still view past issues. View full archive (2011-2018).