Preservation at GPO

About Preservation

The mission of the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) is Keeping America Informed. To accomplish this, it is necessary to preserve the official publications and information products of the U.S. Government, regardless of format. These publications document the fundamental rights of the public, the actions of Federal officials in all three branches of our Government, and the characteristics of our national experience.

As the largest publisher in the world for over 150 years, the U.S. Government has produced a rich legacy of information that serves to document the activities of our democracy and support the business and personal endeavors of the public. The historic collection of tangible U.S. Government publications and the digital Federal information of today are a priceless information asset for the public. Yet, this information asset is vulnerable to decay, technical obsolescence, malicious cyber-attacks, and neglect. Safeguarding access to Government information for everyone, now and for the future, is best achieved through programmatic preservation.

GPO and Federal depository libraries have a long-standing tradition of supporting permanent public access to all forms of Government information. Working with its partners, GPO is committed to ensuring that future generations have free and permanent public access to Government publications and information dissemination products that are within the scope of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), the Cataloging & Indexing Program (C&I), and GPO’s System of Online Access govinfo.gov.

The Preservation Program

Preservation is strategic initiatives, programs, and processes designed to maintain useful access to information assets, serving the information needs of both present and future generations.

Documents and Plans in Support of the Preservation Program

Support for the development and initiatives of GPO’s Preservation Program may be found in the following reports.

Public Policy Statements

Preservation plans provide the scope and operational framework for all strategic initiatives that support preservation and access. They are regularly-updated to reflect the latest applicable standards and best practices.

Superintendent of Documents (SOD) policies support GPO’s mission and the mission, vision, and priorities of the GPO’s public information programs. Policies provide guidance for and assist with decision-making, which is primarily operational in nature. That is, guidance that affects the operations of GPO’s Library Services and Content Management (LSCM) unit. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are developed to implement policies.

Guidance and Best Practices

Best practices are the consensus of a group of experts, provided as guidance for a community of collaborative partners. The preservation program provides guidance documentation to enable our partners to work efficiently and effectively together and with us.

What to do if a disaster strikes…

A disaster can damage or destroy library collections, reducing or eliminating access to the information users need. Simple steps taken when responding to a disaster can significantly improve the recovery of library materials and reduce the amount of time that access is interrupted. To provide our libraries with guidance on what to do if a disaster strikes, we offer the following information.

Consultation and Collaboration

GPO’s preservation program maintains core competencies and expert knowledge in the following areas and freely shares this knowledge with FDLP libraries as well as GPO Preservation Partners:

  • Collection condition assessment
  • Collections care and conservation treatment of collection items
  • Disaster prevention and recovery planning
  • Digital imaging project planning
  • Digital repository assessment
  • Digital repository certification under ISO16363:2012

Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more about our services or if you would like assistance with any of these preservation activities.

GPO Partnerships

Preserving Government information for the future is too large of a task for GPO to undertake alone. Federal agency libraries and libraries in the FDLP have made significant contributions to preserving and increasing access to their collections. Collaborative partnerships with these libraries leverage the preservation activities these libraries have already undertaken and gives their work a national context. Communication within the network of collaborating libraries supports these preservation efforts. The “proof of concept” of a crowdsourced collaborative preservation network of partner libraries was achieved at the 2015, National Dialogue meeting in San Francisco, CA. For more information see the San Francisco Dialogue Report.

  • Learn more about official partnerships with GPO, and view a current list of partners.

Preservation Services Pilot Initiatives

FDLP Preservation Services Pilot Planning Initiatives

The National Collection of U.S. Government information is geographically dispersed and has grown over time as libraries collected and selected publications before and after joining the FDLP. Yet, very little is known about the location of specific titles in the National Collection and what condition they are in. The purpose of the Preservation Services Pilot Initiatives is to develop and test the feasibility of providing these services to Federal depository libraries:

  • Developing collection plans
  • Cataloging
  • Assessing collection condition
  • Conducting inventories
  • Conducting bibliographic record comparisons and sharing
  • Developing disaster preparedness, response, and recovery plans
  • Depositing digital content in Federal depository libraries

Preservation Services Pilot planning visits to the Swem Library at the College of William and Mary and the Library of Virginia have allowed LSCM to test various methods, processes, and costs for gathering bibliographic and condition data on the libraries’ War Department and Census publications. Data from these and other library visits will help to develop a proof of concept that can be used to move toward the testing phase of a larger pilot initiative for these services. Cataloging these publications is also a benefit for the pilot preplanning services libraries and helps GPO identify fugitive and rare publications. Pilot planning visits are also planned to the University of Maryland and the University of Virginia. The Preservation Pilots are described in Developing a Multi-State Comprehensive Collection | FDLP Preservation Services Pilot Strategies on FDLP.gov.

Training and Webinars

Webinars presented by GPO staff as well as members of the FDLP library community on the subject of Preservation (digital and tangible collections) are available. If you have ideas about a future webinar topic contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Recent Webinars: