From Collaborative Discussion to Questionnaire: GPO Asks the FDLP Community to Help Us Shape the Future of the Program

Library Services & Content Management (LSCM) staff members first began a collaborative discussion about the future of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) with community members attending a special Thursday, October 20th session of the fall 2011 Depository Library Council Meeting & Federal Depository Library Conference (Meeting & Conference). In that session, Superintendent of Documents, Mary Alice Baish, spoke about the need for the FDLP to change in order to embrace the digital world.

While each of us is committed to the mission of the FDLP to provide for no-fee public access to Federal Government information now and for future generations and also to the values of the program, we are at a tipping point. If this Program, which is the very foundation of our democracy, is to grow and flourish and become more robust, it must change to embrace the digital world, while continuing to value the historic tangible collections in many of our libraries. It is not our goal today to dwell on the past, but to look to the future.... to work with you to determine... the changing needs of the Program.

Full Transcripts of the special session are available on the FDLP Desktop.

This important speech was followed by presentations by U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) staff members who shared updates about current LSCM projects designed to meet identified community needs.

GPO staff then presented information about two proposed information gathering tools, an FDLP State Forecast questionnaire and a State Focused Action Plan. These tools make up the FDLP State Forecasting Project designed to work with the community to identify and document the most pressing needs of FDLP libraries and to assist GPO in determining a national strategy for the future direction of the Program. The FDLP State Forecasting Project is part of a larger FDLP study that will also examine primary and secondary data, laws governing the Program, and possible program models. The data gathered from the Forecasts and Action Plans will inform decision-making and ensure that the FDLP National Plan for the future of the Program will be one based on a shared vision with member libraries.

GPO staff members were pleased with the positive reception these information gathering tools received. Members of the FDLP community expressed interest in submitting individual library Forecasts in addition to the state level Forecasts which were originally proposed. GPO staff welcomed this opportunity to survey the opinions of coordinators and directors at the individual library level and to collect additional data that will enrich our understanding of how coordinators and directors view the effectiveness of the Program. Individual library Forecast questionnaires were added to the State Forecasting Project in response to community feedback.

Forum Bubble.Following the conclusion of the Meeting & Conference, GPO created two online discussion forums on the FDLP Community site to continue open-ended communication with members of the FDLP community about the future of the Program and about the information gathering tools GPO was creating.

GPO staff members continued discussions and information sharing about the FDLP State Forecasting Project and the larger FDLP Study at the American Library Association’s 2012 Midwinter Meeting. Superintendent of Documents, Mary Alice Baish, and FDLP Forecasting Project Co-lead, Cherie Givens, provided an overview of the project to members of the community attending a joint Government Information Subcommittee/GODORT Legislation Committee meeting and to those attending the Federal Documents Task Force meeting.

Cherie Givens explained the purpose and content of individual depository library and State Forecast questionnaires, as well as State Focused Action Plans. The importance of the FDLP Study, how the information gathered in Forecast questionnaires and State Focused Action Plans will be used, and how and when FDLP members can participate was also discussed. Both presentations made at ALA were met with positive comments and community interest.

GPO staff members are continuing their outreach efforts and will be speaking with depository library groups between February and June to discuss the project, individual library and State Forecasts, State Focused Action Plans, and to answer questions. If your group would like schedule a meeting to discuss this project please contact Cherie Givens or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The FDLP State Forecast questionnaire is designed to gather data about the conditions of all types of FDLP libraries, individually and in a state, and to identify issues that libraries are facing now and expect to face in the future. State Focused Action Plans build on issues identified in State Forecasts and document initiatives and activities that FDLP members in states or Federal depository regions plan to implement in the next five years.

Consensus of opinion about the key issues facing depository libraries today and in the future is the key to moving forward with change. We must work together to determine how we envision the future of the Program and how we can achieve the goals identified at state or Federal depository region levels. Community participation in this project, through the submission of completed individual library and State Forecast questionnaires and State Focused Action Plans, is crucial to the successful creation of our shared vision of the future of the FDLP. The data from completed FDLP Forecasts and Action Plans is needed to document where changes are needed in our existing Program.

Thirty individuals participated in the pilot-test of the individual library questionnaire. These individuals are members of the Depository Library Council and additional participants representing various FDLP library types. They provided GPO with valuable comments and suggestions. Changes were made to refine the questionnaire in response to their comments to better elucidate the viewpoints and ideas of community members participating in this study.

The individual library FDLP Forecast questionnaire is undergoing final editing and approval. Completing this Forecast questionnaire at the individual library level will prepare FDLP members for discussion at the state level and assist in determining state or Federal depository region level goals and initiatives which will be documented in the State Focused Action Plan. Copies of the FDLP Forecast adapted for State level discussions along with the State Focused Action Plan template will soon be available on the FDLP Desktop in word and PDF formats to assist the community in easily accessing and completing them at the state or Federal depository region level.

It is recommended that FDLP members identify groups that can coordinate state level discussions. Regional libraries, State libraries, and State GODORT groups may be able to assist in the coordination of meetings at the state level. GPO will be hosting virtual meetings to facilitate discussions of the FDLP State Forecast questionnaires and State Focused Action Plans. FDLP member libraries can take advantage of the option to meet virtually to collaborate through April 2012. If you would like to schedule a virtual meeting, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 202-512-1119. If you have additional questions, please contact Cherie Givens and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., co-leaders of the FDLP State Forecasting Project.

Individual library and state level FDLP Forecast questionnaires and State Focused Action Plans are due by June 30, 2012. Quantitative and qualitative data analysis of all submissions will begin in July 2012. Issues identified in the data will be investigated further through targeted interviewing with individuals or possibly with focus groups. Preliminary quantitative data findings will be shared with the community online and at the 2012 Depository Library Council Meeting & Federal Depository Library Conference. Join us in working together to document the needs of Federal depository libraries and to shape a vibrant future for the FDLP.

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