Collection Development Guidelines for Selective Federal Depository Libraries, September 1994

U.S. Government Printing Office
Michael F. DiMario, Public Printer

Superintendent of Documents
Wayne P. Kelley

Library Programs Service
James D. Young, Director

Depository Services Staff
Sheila M. McGarr, Chief

Prepared for the Library Programs Service
U.S. Government Printing Office

by Lisa A. Rosenblatt

September 1994

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

Table of Contents

        Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .iii

          1.        Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

          2.        Mission Statement. . . . . . . . . . .2

          3.        Selection Responsibility . . . . . . .3

          4.        Subject Areas & Collection Arrangement4

          5.        Formats. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

          6.        Selection Tools, Non-Depository Items,

                    Retrospective Sources. . . . . . . . .7

          7.        Resource Sharing . . . . . . . . . . .8

          8.        Collection Evaluation. . . . . . . . 10

          9.        Weeding & Maintenance. . . . . . . . 11

         10.        Access . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12



This Supplement to the Federal Depository Library Manual originated as a paper written for a practicum in partial fulfillment of the requirements for an MLS degree at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Lisa Rosenblatt, a graduate student in the School of Library and Information Science, took the practicum at the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) in Washington from May 16 through June 6, 1994.

Dr. Jean L. Preer and Ms. Joan Cheverie, both from Catholic University, served as the practicum advisor and instructor, respectively.

Michael A. Clark, Program Analyst, and Sheila M. McGarr, Chief, Depository Services, served as joint practicum supervisors at the GPO Library Programs Service.

The purpose of the practicum was to draft a model collection development policy for Federal depository libraries. All participants agreed that the project would be of use to the GPO Library Programs Service, the Federal Depository Library Program generally and the depository community specifically, because a model collection development document had been in demand by depository librarians for many years.

Collection Development Guidelines for Selective Federal Depository Libraries

1. Introduction

Collection development policies are important to Federal depository libraries for defining their user community, selecting materials pertinent to the needs of their users, and codifying procedures for maintaining the collection. It is crucial that a formalized policy exist to illuminate why certain item numbers are included or excluded from the depository collection. In addition to defining collection parameters, a collection development policy should incorporate the Guidelines for the Depository Library System and demonstrate the library's adherence to those requirements. Because collection development policies may be formulated in consultation with a group or committee, there exists an important opportunity for the government documents division to educate other staff (professional and technical) as to the merits and challenges of collecting and maintaining a Federal depository collection. Winning the support of other professional staff allows the government documents librarian to work more effectively towards the depository's goal of providing free access to government information for the institution, wider community, and congressional district it is designated to serve.

Although chapters in both the Federal Depository Library Manual and Instructions to Depository Libraries address points to be covered in a collection development policy, they do not provide a clear structure for formulating such a policy. This outline combines the basic elements of collection development with the requirements of the Federal Depository Library Program. Therefore, depository librarians can consult a sample or template structure when formulating their own policies. Templates, lists, and examples from actual policies are provided to clarify and illustrate suggested guidelines. The examples from actual policies were chosen based on their pertinence to the areas they illustrate and should be viewed in relation to the library's unique mission. The following nine areas will be covered:

Mission Statement;
Selection Responsibility;
Subject Areas & Collection Arrangement;
Selection Tools;
Non-Depository Items;
Retrospective Sources;
Resource Sharing;
Collection Evaluation;
Weeding & Maintenance; and

2. Mission Statement

A mission statement should codify the Federal depository library's commitment to provide free and unimpeded public access to Government information for both the primary user groups of the parent institution and the wider constituency of the congressional district(s) or geographical area it serves. In order to effectively fulfill this responsibility, a mission statement should include an analysis of the patron community, including both active and potential users. A thorough community analysis should include the following four areas:

1) a brief history of the service area, including the number of the Congressional district and the date the library was designated a Federal depository;

2) demographic statistics including age, sex, income, health, employment, and marital status;

3) an economic profile including a description of area industries and business opportunities; and

4) a description of the geographic area including physical growth, transportation patterns, and population distribution.

Documents librarians can define and prioritize the information needs of their communities using this data.

In addition to these basic components of a mission statement, libraries which are part of a larger institution, such as academic and law libraries, should also clearly define how the Federal depository supports the mission and primary user group of the parent institution. Finally, this analysis should conclude with a statement defining the subject areas of the depository collection. This general statement will be more clearly defined in the Subject Areas & Collection Arrangement section of the policy.

Sample Paragraph

The (department) of (library) located in the U.S. Congressional District was designated a Federal depository on (date). The primary mission of the unit is to support the general collecting activities of the main library which serves [definition of users]. [description of institutional mission] In accordance with the requirements defined in the Instructions to Depository Libraries, Guidelines for the Depository Library System, and the Federal Depository Library Manual, this unit also strives to serve the government information needs of the constituents of the U.S. Congressional District. This community... [community analysis] The unit will collect government documents to support the following subject areas: ...

3. Selection Responsibility

A statement defining who is responsible for item selection and collection development is necessary for consistent development of the government documents collection. Such a statement can also guard against any confusion regarding who is responsible for making final decisions. Therefore, this section should indicate:

1) primary responsibility with regard to item selection and collection development;

2) committees, library staff, patrons or faculty who assist in the decision making process; and

3) a procedure for review of survey items and annual update of the selection profile.

Library management should be made aware that because of speccial considerations regarding government information and the complex regulations governing the Federal Depository Libraryy Program, the professional librarian responsible for maintaining the collection should have substantial responsibility in item selection. This librarian can provide valuable insight into government information policy issues, format considerations, space availability and user needs when advising others who have input in the selection process. Because of this individual's unique knowledge, it is strongly advised that final selection decisions remain with the professional librarian responsible for maintaining the government documents collection.

Sample: Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library; Tampa, FL - Selection Responsibility Statement

"Selection of government documents and supporting materials is made by the Government Documents Librarian along with the Special Collections Site Coordinator, Special Collections professional staff, and the CRC Section manager. This staff meets in regular round table discussions to evaluate and select new items offered through GPO surveys as well as to annually review and re-evaluate items currently selected. Staff also identifies for purchase commercially published sources to support the collection."

4. Subject Areas & Collection Arrangement

Based on the mission statement and general subject areas defined earlier, the library needs to identify, in some detail, which government agencies and types of documents support the information needs of the community. In order to guide selectors and develop a balanced collection, priorities should be set regarding the collection intensity level of each subject. One approach to establishing subject priorities is to:

1) list subject areas;

2) list agencies that support these areas including the SuDoc class stem;

3) define existing collection level in each subject;

4) define desired collection level in each subject; and

5) define types of publications collected.

The subject areas will be derived from the information needs of the community and should be easily identifiable based on the community analysis. Because several agencies might produce documents pertinent to the library's subject area, the librarian should consult the List of Classes of United States Government Publications Available for Selection by Depository Libraries and the United States Government Manual in order to be familiar with the variety of information produced by government agencies. The Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) classification should also be listed behind the agency designation. In order to define current collection levels, the collection should be compared with standard lists and bibliographies, examples of which include the List of Classes, "Suggested Core Collection" in Appendix A of the Federal Depository Library Manual, and GPO Subject Bibliographies. Based on the community profile and changing needs, indicate at what level material should be collected. Finally, there should be some indication of the types of publications collected for the specific subject area. Examples of publication "types" include Directories, Maps, Posters etc. A complete listing appears in the Federal Depository Library Manual, Chapter 5, pp. 59-60.

For the sample below, Collection Intensity Levels will be used as defined by the Research Libraries Group (RLG) Conspectus which utilizes six different levels defined by numeric codes:

0 (out of scope, not collected);
1 (minimal);
2 (basic information);
3 (instructional support);
4 (research); and
5 (comprehensive).

Depository libraries might also consider using the Library of Congress approach which is only four levels: minimal, reference, research, and comprehensive. It is assumed that libraries collecting at the research and/or comprehensive level will develop their collection retrospectively.


. Agencies
. Existing
. Coll. Intensity
. Desired Coll.
. Intensity
. Pub. Type

. Gerontology
. Social Security
. Administration (HE 3.)
. National Institute on
. Aging (HE 20.3850)
. 1
. 2
. Handbooks, Manuals,
. Guides, Reports, &
. Stat. Pubs.

Based on this analysis, selectors will be able to choose appropriate item numbers more efficiently to enhance the collection profile. Because the SuDocs number will be identified in the collection profile, selectors can easily consult the List of Classes to choose item numbers. Each depository library is encouraged to include most, if not all, item numbers listed in the "Basic Collection" in Appendix C in the Federal Depository Library Manual. Generally, academic, public, and law libraries should examine the "Suggested Core Collection" in the Federal Depository Library Manual to determine appropriate item numbers for selection. While this is only a starting point, the library should then expand the core collection based on its institutional mission. Once the selection profile is defined and appropriate item numbers are selected, the librarian should compare this data with the Selection Data for Selective Depository Libraries found in Administrative Notes. If the percentage of item numbers selected is less than half of the national average, or unusually high or low in comparison with their peer group, explanations for these special situations should be clearly stated.

Collection arrangement should be addressed in terms of whether Superintendent of Documents, Library of Congress, Dewey Decimal or a combination of classification systems is used. Also, the policy should address whether government documents are integrated or separate from the main collection and if specific documents are located in special or reference collections. Some explanation should be given as to how these special arrangements will be communicated to users (for example, if special location information is indicated in the Online Public Access Catalog or through dummy books). If there are selective housing agreements, list the name of the institution, the duration of the agreement and a brief statement on the library's general collecting scope. More detailed policies and procedures related to selective housing are described in the "Agreement for Selective Housing of U.S. Depository Documents" found in Chapter 2 of the Federal Depository Library Manual, p.17.

5. Formats

Government documents in the Federal Depository Library Program are available in a variety of formats other than paper, including microform, and electronic products. Because of the variety of considerations regarding the inclusion or non-inclusion of these formats, a policy outlining the library's decision making processes is necessary. While the primary consideration regarding the selection of an item should always be whether the information falls within the library's subject scope, the selector will also need to consider the following when deciding on format:

1) frequency of use;

2) space/storage capacity and frequency of publication;

3) cost of providing access;

4) resource sharing capabilities; and

5) library's prior holdings.

While paper is often the format of choice for frequently consulted materials, closer examination of user needs and availability of library resources may reveal that an electronic or microform product would be preferred. Certainly, the inclusion of electronic products in the Federal Depository Library Program raises many issues, especially since more information is available only electronically. Government documents librarians will need to carefully monitor the types of electronic products available in order to formulate policies and procedures to implement their use.

Guidelines for Format Consideration


Availability of microform readers and reader/printers; patron resistance to using this format; processing time; necessary storage facilities and collection maintenance (see Federal Depository Library Manual, p. 100); possibility that the document is produced only in microfiche.

Electronic Products:

Hardware and software support; level of staff and patron expertise; cost; and frequency of data updating. If the electronic product falls within the collecting scope of the library, but the library cannot technically support the product, are there other methods for providing access? Will the items be circulated? Can off-site access be provided?

Sample: Wayne Public Library; Wayne, NJ - Statement on Format

"Paper copy should be preferred since it is most easily handled by the general public. Because of space requirements and also because the government seems to be preferring microfiche and electronic products more and more due to economic constraints, the Library will be able to choose fewer items in paper in the future. It is the Documents Librarian's responsibility to determine what format is most appropriate when a choice is available. The Library currently has two CD- ROM units available, one at the Reference Desk and one in the Documents Office. The Library shhould attempt to accommodate new formats which may be developed in the future."

6. Selection Tools, Non-Depository Items, Retrospective Sources

In order to guide new selectors and insure consistency in the selection process, major tools used when selecting should be indicated. Selection tools should reflect the major subject areas of the collection and include major commercial indexes, sources for retrospective collection development, and methodologies for procuring non-depository items. If a depository library collects heavily in the area of gerontology, it would be appropriate to identify subject bibliographies pertinent to that area which would supplement the basic selection tools for depository libraries. The following lists are suggestions of tools that could be consulted in the selection process. Several of these publications can be used to find reviews of government publications.

Depository Items:

Item Cards

List of Classes of U.S. Government Publications Available for Selection by Depository Libraries

Union List of Item Selections

Federal Depository Library Manual, Appendix A, "Suggested Core Collection Annotated for Small to Medium Public and Academic Libraries and for all Law Libraries."

Federal Depository Library Manual, Appendix B, "Maps Available for Selection."

Federal Depository Library Manual, Appendix C, "Basic Collection."

Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP)

Publications Reference File

GPO Subject Bibliographies

Non-Depository Items:

Documents to the People (DttP): reviews and features new publications

Journal of Government Information

Government Reports Announcements and Index (NTIS) Library of Congress's Documents Expediting Project: Also useful for retrospective collecting

Identifying and directly contacting government agencies for documents not in the Federal Depository Library Program.

Microform Review

Retrospective Sources:

Even though the closest regional depository may hold complete sets of selected series, reports, journals etc., there may be a local need for retrospective collecting. If this is appropriate, identify areas of the collection that need to be developed, methodologies, and selection sources consulted. In addition to the Documents Expediting Project, the following sources could be used to identify and acquire out-of-print documents: offers lists from other depository libraries; gift and exchange programs; and older versions of the Monthly Catalog such as Benjamin Perley Poore's Descriptive Catalogue of the Government Publications of the United States, September 5, 1774-March 4, 1881. (For a complete listing of indexes preceding the Monthly Catalog, see Joe Morehead's Introduction to United States Government Information Sources, 4th ed., Chapter 4.)

7. Resource Sharing

After establishing collection priorities based on a user profile, it may become apparent that information needs exist that the library is not able to directly satisfy. While collection development policies should establish collecting priorities, this policy also needs to address methods for obtaining government information not available in the local library. Resource sharing, which is usually interpreted as sharing of library collections, can also be defined as sharing staff, bibliographic records, facilities, and equipment. In other words, any methods employed by the depository to increase access to government information not readily available in that library should be described. With this in mind, selective depository libraries should address resource sharing efforts based on the following three areas:

1) participation of the depository library in established resource sharing policies of the parent library;

2) relationship with a regional depository; and

3) resource sharing with local area selective depositories.

If the depository benefits from participating in resource sharing efforts already in place for the entire library, list what these efforts are and how they incorporate the government documents collection. This could include interlibrary loan practices, document delivery, membership in a consortium of libraries, cooperative cataloging, or cooperative collection development. Because of the regional library's responsibility to provide support and coordinate activities for the area selectives, it is important to delineate what these arrangements are and how they affect your library. In addition to depending on the regional library for wider access to government documents, the regional library may provide technical support, assist in solving routine questions and serve as a liaison to the Superintendent of Documents. If the regional is geographically inaccessible and unable to provide extensive support, this should be mentioned in the policy.

Selective depositories should coordinate resource sharing activities in addition to establishing a relationship with the regional depository. Shared activities could include cooperative collection development or developing basic knowledge of each other's collection strengths and weaknesses by sharing item selection profiles. This could be accomplished through formal arrangements such as meetings, planned library visits, or joint policy statements. However, informal methods of communication via telephone, e-mail, or listservs like GOVDOC-L, LAW-LIB, and MAPS-L are equally important and should be described. If cooperative collection development exists between depositories, the libraries should indicate in the resource sharing policy statement for what areas of information they depend on outside resources. An excellent example of a resource sharing plan that illustrates provisions for the sharing of resources, services and responsibilities of depository libraries is the "Illinois State Plan for ILLINET Federal Document Depositories 1991" in Illinois Libraries, v. 75, no. 4, May 1993.

Sample: Chutick Law Library, Cardozo School of Law; New York, NY - Resource Sharing Statement

"Selections and deselections are made with some knowledge of the scope of the other depository collection at Yeshiva University and of the holdings of the other depository libraries in the 8th Congressional District. Cardozo exchanges item selection lists with the Pollack Library, the other depository collection at Yeshiva University (see copy of Pollack's item list that follows). By participation in METRO- GODIG, the public services librarian for government documents learns about other local depository collections and is able to make more informed decisions regarding resource sharing commitments. Information is shared also through other types of informal professional contact. Cardozo public services librarians make referrals for on-site use of these other libraries by using the Union List of Item Selections, OCLC and telephone contacts. Cardozo both loans and borrows depository materials through interlibrary loan. Cardozo participates in the Law Library Association of Greater New York and OCLC union list projects. All depository materials cataloged into the Library of Congress collection appear in these union lists. As the Bibliographic utility used by Cardozo, OCLC contains holding symbols for all depository materials cataloged into the Library of Congress collection.

The law library participates in resource sharing agreements coordinated by METRO and by the Conference of Law School Library Directors of Greater New York. Under these agreements, the library can obtain day access for on-site use of non-depository collections in many types of area libraries."

8. Collection Evaluation

An integral part of collection development is evaluating the collection to determine if goals and priorities set by collection managers are, in fact, meeting user needs. There are several methods or combinations of methods documents librarians can employ to evaluate the collection and it is necessary that this methodology be explicated in a policy statement. The statement will demonstrate that collection development decisions are based on pre-determined methods of evaluation, as opposed to sporadic or reactionary decision making. Below are several methods to consider when devising a plan for collection evaluation. Library literature stresses that no one method is reliable, rather implementing several methods and comparing the data will result in a truer picture of collection strengths and weaknesses.

Methods of Evaluation

Statistical Analysis:

Certainly, when bibliographic records and local library holdings for government documents are available online through an OPAC or other database, there exists a wider range of possibilities for gathering needed statistics. Statistics should be analyzed in relation to the collection and community profile. They include evaluating interlibrary loan requests submitted by patrons and those filled by the documents unit, determining how often documents circulate or are used in the library by noting the frequency that particular items are reshelved, and noting the number of reference questions answered successfully using the documents collection. Patron Satisfaction:

Designing questionnaires, surveys or interviews directed to the user community in order to directly assess the impact of the documents collection.

Zero-Based Collection Review:

A zero-based collection review should be implemented at the time of the annual item selection update cycle. A zero-based review, which means evaluating item numbers on a one-by-one basis, should result in adding or deselecting items from the selection profile. This review is most effective when compared with already determined collection goals.

Evaluation of Standard Bibliographies and Lists:

Comparing the government documents collection to standard lists, such as subject bibliographies, the core collections as defined in the Federal Depository Library Manual, or lists used as selection tools, is useful in determining if standard items are included in the collection.

9. Weeding and Maintenance

Establishing a procedure for weeding items that are not used or are in poor condition assures that the collection is maintained to fulfill the information needs of the service community. The Instructions to Depository Libraries states on page 16 that "Depository libraries may discard these materials only in the manner described by these Instructions or at the direction of a GPO official." In addition to the procedures described in the Instructions to Depository Libraries, the policy should state the library's methods for discarding material that no longer fits the collection scope. The criteria used might include:

1) physical condition;
2) currency of information;
3) age;
4) use;
5) duplication;
6) replacement by another format; or
7) superseded editions listed in the
Superseded List.

The library should describe whether weeding the collection is an ongoing process or done at specified times according to guidelines issued by the Regional depository. The policy should indicate procedures for distributing offers lists to the Regional depository and if lists are circulated to other selective depositories or the national "Needs and Offers List."

In addition to procedures for weeding, the policy should describe other methods of collection maintenance. This includes procedures for replacing lost or stolen items and procedures for binding and repairing documents.

Sample: Ward Edwards Library, Central Missouri State University; Warrensburg, MO - Statement on Collection Maintenance

"The collection will be maintained in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Instructions to Depository Libraries. An accurate shelflist of all depository publications will be maintained to the piece level. All documents will be clearly marked with the depository property stamp, shipping list date, and the SUDOC number.

Superseded documents will be withdrawn. Other documents may be reviewed for retention after five years. Those titles no longer needed will be offered to other libraries and/or discarded with the permission of the regional depository. Hearings, for example, are regularly reviewed; those of lasting value are retained indefinitely.

Worn documents will be evaluated for replacement or withdrawal. A deposit account will be maintained with the Government Printing Office to supplement the depository collection and to replace lost or damaged materials. Preservation activities include placing materials identified as acidic in phase boxes to prevent further deterioration and damage to surrounding materials. Item selection will be reviewed annually, independently and in cooperation with the Kansas City Metropolitan Library Network.

New survey selections will be made with the input of all library faculty.

10. Access

While it should be clearly defined in the mission statement that the main function of Federal depository libraries is to provide free and unimpeded access to government information to the general public, the policy should also describe methods for establishing and promoting access in the library. The policy should address the following issues:

1) whether holdings information for the documents collection is separate or integrated into the main catalog;

2) hours that a professional librarian knowledgeable in government documents is available to provide competent reference service;

3) major commercial indexes held by the library that include government documents;

4) inclusion of government documents in library pathfinders; and

5) promotional techniques to attract users, including flyers describing the collection and services, community outreach, or bibliographic instruction. For other promotional ideas, see Chapter 7, entitled "Depository Promotion," in the Federal Depository Library Manual.

Sample: Trexler Library, Muhlenberg College; Allentown, PA - Access to Collection

"All Government Publications are accessible for public use in the library. Paper publications are on Level A and generally may circulate to patrons with a Library Card. Microfiche publications are filed in the MicroMedia Room on Level A. Most publications (except periodicals, indexes & abstracts, electronic format, and select reference material) are arranged by Superintendent of Documents Classification System (SuDoc) and are not listed in the library's online system. There is a shelflist of publications owned in the alcove next to the Information Services Desk on Level A. These indexes identify government publications and provide access to information: Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications (paper and electronic format), Congressional Information Services (CIS), American Statistics Index (ASI), Public Affairs Information Service (PAIS) and Publications Reference File (PRF). Assistance in using these indexes and locating publications is available at the Information Services Desk."