February 1996

Library Programs Service
Superintendent of Documents
U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, DC 20401


The Guidelines for the Federal Depository Library Program set forth program and performance goals for the Federal depository libraries and for the Government Printing Office (GPO). The revised Guidelines incorporate the formerly separate Minimum Standards for the Depository Library System.

The Minimum Standards were originally adopted in 1976. The Guidelines were originally adopted in 1977 and slightly revised in 1987. Because new technologies have greatly changed the way Federal Government information is disseminated, the Depository Library Council established a working group to draft revised editions of these documents. The working group included representatives from Council, regional libraries, selectives, and GPO; and the group reflected academic, public, law, and state agency library concerns.

The charge to the working group specified that it should include provisions covering distribution of Federal Government information in electronic formats as well as "provide a vision for improving depository library services and standards that reflect the dynamics of the changing information infrastructure." In addition to updating the Guidelines with respect to the use of new technologies in the delivery of Federal Government information, the working group was particularly interested in developing consistency between the guidelines and the recently adopted self study process required of libraries undergoing inspection. The working group attempted to frame the individual guidelines so that they are "outcomes based" rather than prescriptions for specific actions.

The Depository Library Council to the Public Printer held its fall meeting on October 16-18, 1995. In its Recommendation #10, the Council adopted the Guidelines, with the provision that they be reviewed every two years. .

Working Group on Revising the Guidelines for the Federal Depository Library Program

Duncan Aldrich, University of Nevada-Reno
Ann Bregent, Washington State Library
Susan Dow, State University of New York-Buffalo
Jan Fryer, Iowa State University, Chair
Patrick Grace, Seattle Public Library
Ridley Kessler, Jr., University of North Carolina
Sheila McGarr, Government Printing Office
Paul Pattwell, Newark Public Library
Andrea Sevetson, University of California-Berkeley
Bobby C. Wynn, Fayetteville State University
.Guidelines for the Federal
Depository Library Program

As adopted by the Depository Library Council to the Public Printer

1. Objectives of the Federal Depository Library Program

1-1 The purpose of depository libraries is to make U.S. Government information regardless of format accessible to the public and to provide for its continued availability in the future.

1-2 The purpose shall be achieved by a system of cooperation wherein depository libraries will select Federal public information at no charge in return for making it freely accessible to the public in their Congressional district or local area.

1-3 These guidelines mandate the level of performance required of all depositories unless otherwise specified by statute or regulations.

2. Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office

2-1 Actively gather and disseminate, within the scope of Title 44, United States Code, sections 1902-1903, all Federal information regardless of format that is of public interest or educational value.

2-2 Provide all issues of series in the List of Classes of United States Government Publications Available for Selection by Depository Libraries, including those issues not printed or procured, or in the case of electronic products, not mastered by the Government Printing Office.

2-3 Issue instructions for the selection, claiming, retention, and withdrawal of depository documents and other activities related to depository libraries. (See Instructions to Depository Libraries and Superseded List)

2-4 Provide an efficient mechanism for depository libraries to add and delete items from their item selection profiles. New materials offered for selection should include the following information: title, SuDocs class stem, issuing agency, item number, format, and a brief description of the item being offered. Subdivide item numbers as appropriate to insure that libraries receive only wanted information products. (See Title 44, United States Code, sections 1904 and 1913.)

2-5 Offer choice of format whenever feasible: paper, microform, electronic, or other; however, the Government Printing Office, in consultation with depository libraries, has the option of providing only one format when the nature of the information or cost warrants it (see SOD 13).

2-6 Supply shipment information including depository item numbers, titles of documents, classification numbers, and information on SuDocs classification changes.

2-7 Provide copies if possible to fill claims for publications missing from depository shipments. Respond to claims as expeditiously as possible.

2-8 Provide a standard classification system for Federal information and provide assistance to libraries on using the SuDocs classification system (see latest editions of the GPO Classification Manual and An Explanation of the Superintendent of Documents Classification System).

2-9 Provide a timely and comprehensive system of catalogs and indexes to Federal information (see Title 44, United States Code, section 1711).

2-10 Cooperate with the National Archives so that the Archives may acquire and preserve a comprehensive collection of Federal information.

2-11 Allocate funds for the evaluation of depository libraries through questionnaires, surveys, and inspections at intervals considered necessary by the Superintendent of Documents, to insure compliance with the depository law. Collect, compile, analyze, and publish pertinent statistics on a regular basis.

2-12 Investigate conditions in depository libraries by on-site visits for compliance and non-compliance with the rules and regulations. Provide a written report to the library promptly following the visit. If conditions are not corrected within six months, consider deletion of the library from the list of depositories (see Title 44, United States Code, section 1909).

2-13 Announce new policies and changes on a regular basis to all depositories via print and electronic means. Provide adequate notice of statistics to be gathered in the Biennial Survey so that collection of data can be implemented in a timely manner.

2-14 Cooperate with publication projects which contribute to the use of Federal information.

2-15 Provide user support and training for depository libraries accessing the GPO Access service or other GPO- generated information system.

2-16 Maintain long term access to Government information at the GPO on-demand delivery service.

2-17 Consult at regular intervals with the Depository Library Council to the Public Printer on matters related to depository libraries, including the development of standards and bibliographic aids, changes in the SuDocs classification system, the selection of materials for micropublication and on issues relating to the electronic conversion and distribution of Federal government information.

3. Collection Development

3-1 Each depository library should maintain the titles in the basic collection available for immediate use (see Federal Depository Library Manual, pp. 173-174).

3-2 Each library should acquire and maintain or otherwise provide access to the basic catalogs, guides and indexes, retrospective and current, considered essential to the reference use of the collection. This should include selected non-Governmental reference tools (see Federal Depository Library Manual).

3-3 Each depository should maintain a specific written Collection Development Policy which reflects the following:

a. the selection of frequently used and potentially useful materials based on the objectives of the library;

b. the selection of materials responsive to the needs of the users in the Congressional district and local area where the library is located (see Federal Depository Library Manual Supplement).

3-4 Each depository library should conduct a comprehensive review of its selections regularly in order to insure that needed materials are selected and that materials, no longer of use, are deselected.

3-5 Depository libraries, either solely or in conjunction with neighboring depositories, should make demonstrable efforts to identify and meet the Government information needs of the Congressional district or local area.

3-6 Depository libraries should coordinate item selections with other depositories in the Congressional district and local area to insure adequate coverage that meets local needs.

4. Bibliographic Control

4-1 The library should check all shipping lists to insure that items selected are received and, if not, promptly claimed.

4-2 Each publication in the shipment, regardless of format, should be marked with the library's name and "depository" to distinguish it from publications received from other sources. Each publication should be marked with the date of the shipping list, or the date of receipt, or the date of processing (see Instructions to Depository Libraries).

4-3 The library should record all of its depository receipts. The minimum holdings record for a depository library should show the library's holdings and the call numbers or locations where they may be found (see Instructions to Depository Libraries).

4-4 A method of classification should be adopted for precise identification and location of materials requested by library users.

4-5 Whenever possible documents should be available for public use within 10 days after receipt; they should be retrievable even if cataloging information is not yet available.

4-6 The library should maintain statistics of the collection needed for the Biennial Survey of Depository Libraries.

4-7 The library will maintain, in paper or electronic format, a record of item numbers selected and not selected.

5. Maintenance of the Depository Collection

5-1 Collections should be maintained in comparable physical condition as purchased library materials through the use of proper preservation practices, including binding when desirable.

5-2 Depository publications should be protected from unlawful removal comparable to other parts of the library's collections. Lost, worn out, or damaged materials should be replaced comparably with non-Government materials.

5-3 Libraries served by a regional depository may withdraw publications retained for the statutory minimum period of five years from receipt after securing permission from the regional library for disposal in accordance with the provisions of Title 44, United States Code, section 1912. Unneeded materials should be made available to other libraries in accordance with the Instructions to Depository Libraries and regional disposition guidelines.

5-4 Depository libraries within executive departments, Federal courts, and independent agencies may dispose of unwanted Government publications after first offering them to the Exchange and Gift Division of the Library of Congress in accordance with the provisions of Title 44, United States Code, section 1907 and policy guidance from the Library of Congress.

5-5 The provisions of Title 44, United States Code, section 1911, disposal of unwanted publications, do not apply to libraries of the highest appellate courts of the states (see Title 44, United States Code, section 1915).

5-6 Superseded material may be withdrawn according to the latest edition of the Superseded List.

5-7 Claims must be submitted within stated time limits. Duplicate claims should not be submitted except in accordance with Administrative Notes, v. 16, no. 9, July 15, 1995, pp. 3-4.

6. Human Resources

6-1 One person should be designated by the library to coordinate depository activities and to act as liaison with the Superintendent of Documents in all matters relating to depository libraries.

6-2 This person should be responsible for coordination of:

a) selecting, receiving, and claiming depository distributions;

b) replying to correspondence and surveys from the Superintendent of Documents;

c) interpreting the Federal Depository Library Program to the administrative level of the library, and

d) performing or supervising stated aspects of service, or in an integrated collection, knowledge of persons to whom responsibilities are delegated, such as:

(1) organization for use,

(2) maintenance of records of the collection,

(3) physical maintenance of the collection,

(4) establishment of withdrawal procedures,

(5) maintenance of reader services,

(6) promotion of use of collection,

(7) preparation of budgets, and

(8) submission of reports.

6-3 The liaison should be a professionally qualified librarian and responsible to the library administration.

6-4 Professional and technical support staff should be added depending on the size and scope of the library and the methods of organization of the collection. As the Federal Depository Library Program moves into an increasingly electronic environment, depository libraries should have access to appropriate technical support staff. The total number of staff should be sufficient to effectively perform the depository functions of the library and meet the requirements described in the Guidelines and Instructions.

6-5 Depository Librarians and support staff should keep up-to-date on new developments through participation in professional societies, attendance at workshops, and professional reading.

6-6 Depository personnel should have access to the Internet with e-mail and listserv capabilities in order to promote the quick exchange of information between the depository library, other depositories, and the Government Printing Office.

6-7 Depository library staff should familiarize themselves with the such publications as Instructions to Depository Libraries, Superseded List, Administrative Notes, Federal Depository Library Manual and its Supplements, and abide by their requirements.

6-8 Questionnaires and surveys submitted by the Superintendent of Documents to depository libraries should be completed and returned promptly in accordance with accompanying instructions.

6-9 Prior to a scheduled GPO inspection, depository library personnel should conduct a library self-study in accordance with GPO instructions.

7. Physical Facilities

7-1 Space for depository operations should be of the same quality as other areas of the library. It should be comfortable and have acceptable levels of lighting, temperature, ventilation and noise control. It should be functional, flexible and expandable.

7-2 The spaces should contain well planned areas for services provided; e.g. reference, circulation, loan and other public service activities. There should be adequate space for housing of the collection.

7-3 There should be a separate area for processing of the collection including suitable work space for staff members.

7-4 All parts of the collection should be readily accessible, preferably on open shelves, but in all circumstances, should be located so that materials may be retrieved in a reasonable period of time.

7-5 If depository materials are maintained in a separate division of the library, the space provided should be conveniently located for user access to encourage use of the materials.

7-6 Sufficient tables or carrels should be provided for in-library use of depository materials.

7-7 Sufficient microform readers and reader/printers should be provided.

7-8 Appropriate hardware and software must be provided for public users accessing electronic information available through the Federal Depository Library Program (e.g. CD-ROMs, on-line databases, etc.). This hardware and software should include computer workstations capable of providing Internet access that includes GILS-aware client software, CD-ROM readers, and printers (see "Required Minimum Technical Guidelines for Workstations").

7-9 The library should abide by the recommended standards for access by individuals with disabilities (Americans with Disabilities Act).

8. Public Service

8-1 Libraries must make depository information available for the free use of the public in the library. Highest appellate court libraries of the states are exempt from the provisions of Title 44, United States Code, section 1911 (see Title 44, United States Code, section 1915).

8-2 The library should provide to all users reference assistance with regard to depository information. In each depository library, there should be recognized focal points for inquiries about government information. At this point it should be possible to find:

a) resources in the collection, including specific titles;

b) location of wanted information in the library;

c) answers to reference questions or a referral to a source or place where answers can be found;

d) guidance on the use of the collection, including the principal available reference sources, catalogs, abstracts, indexes and other aids including electronic products;

e) availability of additional resources in the region;

(f) assistance in borrowing documents from regional or other libraries through interlibrary loan.

8-3 The selection of items in electronic format assumes that the library will take reasonable steps to assist the public in their use. When appropriate, this includes providing the user with instruction in running the application and developing search strategies. If the library does not own the appropriate hardware or software, it should be willing to help the user locate a site at which the product can be used.

8-4 The library has the option of establishing its own circulation policies for use of depository materials outside the library.

8-5 The library should provide facilities for using materials within the library, including photocopying facilities, equipment for reading and reproducing microforms and for accessing, printing, and downloading electronically- formatted materials received through the Federal Depository Library Program.

8-6 The library should publicize the depository collection to its primary constituency and the public (see Federal Depository Library Manual).

9. Cooperative Efforts

9-1 All depository libraries are part of a nation-wide network of libraries consisting of selectives and regional depositories.

9-2 Selective depositories should cooperate in building up the collections of the regional depositories and in the redistribution of documents not needed in their own organizations via various state and national disposal lists in traditional paper and on-line formats.

9-3 All depository libraries should cooperate in reporting to the Superintendent of Documents new Federal documents not listed in the Month ly Catalog.

9-4 Depository libraries borrowing documents from other libraries should comply with current Interlibrary Loan standards.

9-5 All depository libraries should provide depository materials on interlibrary loan except for "high use" information products consistent with the circulation of non-depository materials in the library's collection.

9-6 All depository libraries should have a policy of providing photocopies of depository materials in traditional formats and access to depository to other libraries consistent with that for non-depository materials.

9-7 Depository libraries shall consult with Government agencies, libraries, public interest groups, and with the Supe rintendent of Documents, to encourage widespread, free public access to Federal agency information resources through telecommunications networks and ultimately through the Federal Depository Library Program.

10. Regional Libraries

10-1 Regional depositories will coordinate in their region the retention of at least one copy of all Government publications distributed in paper, microform, CD-ROM, floppy diskette, or other tangible format through the Federal Depository Library Program--except those authorized to be discarded by the Superintendent of Documents. Retained copies may be in paper, microform, or electronic format. Regional depositories are not expected to house or coordinate the retention of any current or future GPO online services or other remotely accessed Federal Government databases. The establishment of such centralized, remote databases will alleviate other sites (such as regional depositories) of archival responsibilities.

10-2 Regional depositories will work with selective depositories in their region, with the Superintendent of Documents, and with depository libraries from other regions to assure that all depositories in their region have free access--either directly, through a telecommunications network, or through interlibrary loan--to all depository materials distributed or made remotely accessible in electronic formats, e.g. floppy disks, CD-ROMs, etc.

10-3 Regional depositories will coordinate the lending of depository materials among depository libraries within their region. This will include the lending or replication of materials distributed through the Federal Depository Library Program in paper, microform, and electronic formats (see Title 44, United States Code, section 1912).

10-4 Regional depositories may allow selective depositories in their region to dispose of depository materials they have held for the five year statutory minimum. They will establish written procedures and guidelines for the transfer of these materials to other depository libraries in the region. Materials authorized to be discarded by the Superintendent of Documents do not require permission for disposal from the regional library (see Title 44, United States Code, section 1912 and the Instructions to Depository Libraries).

10-5 Regional depositories will provide reference service to selective depository libraries in their region (see Title 44, United States Code, section 1912).

10-6 Regional depositories will advise and assist selective depositories in their region in the interpretation of "Guidelines for the Federal Depository Library Program" and in preparation for GPO inspections.

10-7 Regional depositories will work with selective depositories in their region to promote the effectiveness of depository libraries and to publicize depository libraries to the community. This work may include activities such as conferences, workshops, community online network development, union lists, user aids, and similar activities. Cooperation with other professional, public interest, and educational groups is encouraged towards these ends.