I apologize to all the govdocs jockies who are a little underwhelmed by my 101 approach to all things document-y, but I’ve been enjoying all the new stuff I’ve learned. Today I’m talking about Federal Depository Libraries.
If you went to library school you may have had a class in GovDocs where you learned about FDLs and their complicated and mysterious cataloging and classification system and met very odd people who made these systems their lives. By the end of the GovDocs class, most people were terrified but a few were hooked. I can remember almost every GovDocs librarian I’ve ever met and I don’t think this is true for any other type of librarian I’ve encountered.
So, here are some things you need to know. Other GovDocs fanboys and fangirls, please add more information in the comments. This page has an intro to the FDL program for further reading.
- The US has 1250 Federal Dpository Libraries nationwide. You can find the one nearest you by going to this page. Want to print a list for your state? Go to this page.
- The broad purpose of these libraries is to “provide local, no-fee access to Government information in an impartial environment with professional assistance”
- ANYONE can go into a FDL, even if the collection is part of a larger private library that you would not otherwise have access to. This is true, for example, at the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library where they have a very strict visitor’s policy and you have to read all the way to the bottom of this page until you see the words “Government Document U.S. depository (Bobst 6th floor) open to general public”
- The purpose of these repositories is changing in the face of the shift to more and more information being created and disseminated digitally. The FDLP was created and mostly maintained as an avenue to get print publications from the Government Printing Office to the public who they serve. The GPOs role is shrinking
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