Discontinuing the Use of the Phrase “Fugitive Documents”

Library Services and Content Management (LSCM) is discontinuing the use of the phrase “fugitive documents.” It will be replaced with “unreported publications” and the definition is:

    Public information products that are not discoverable through the Government Publishing Office's Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP)

When this new definition was presented at the Fall 2020 Federal Depository Library Conference, several comments were made regarding the continued use of the phrase “fugitive documents.” While “fugitive” is a literary term that was most commonly used in the 18th and 19th centuries, it also has a legal meaning that dates back even farther. Today, the use of “fugitive” is associated with systemic racism and brings to the fore negative and derogatory connotations.

It is time to replace the phrase “fugitive documents.” Going forward LSCM will use “unreported publications.” This change was approved by the Depository Library Council, the Superintendent of Documents, and the GPO Director.

You may notice some changes over the next several weeks as LSCM staff work to reflect this change in external and internal documentation, public facing web pages on FDLP.gov, and in askGPO. We will not replace the term in past conference presentations or in previously published articles. Our goal is to have changes completed by the end of May 2021.

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