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Part 17: Nonlawyer’s journey through Title 44: Index of documents: number and distribution

This post, all earlier postings in this series, and my “not a lawyer” disclaimer can be found at http://freegovinfo.info/title44 or through our library under Nonlawyer’s Journey through Title 44.

Sec. 1710

TITLE 44–PUBLIC PRINTING AND DOCUMENTS

CHAPTER 17–DISTRIBUTION AND SALE OF PUBLIC DOCUMENTS

Sec. 1710. Index of documents: number and distribution

The Superintendent of Documents, at the close of each regular session of Congress, shall prepare and publish a comprehensive index of public documents, upon a plan approved by the Joint Committee on Printing. The Public Printer shall, immediately upon its publication, deliver to him a copy of every document printed by the Government Printing Office. The head of each executive department, independent agency and establishment of the Government shall deliver to him a copy of every document issued or published by the department, bureau, or office not confidential in character. He shall also prepare and print in one volume a consolidated index of Congressional documents, and shall index single volumes of documents as the Joint Committee on Printing directs. Two thousand copies each of the comprehensive index and of the consolidated index shall be printed and bound in addition to the usual number, two hundred for the Senate, eight hundred for the House of Representatives and one thousand for distribution by the Superintendent of Documents.

(Pub. L. 90-620, Oct. 22, 1968, 82 Stat. 1280.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on 44 U.S. Code, 1964 ed., Sec. 76 (Jan. 12, 1895, ch. 23,
Sec. 62, 28 Stat. 610).

When I first came across this law, I thought that it might be the statutory authority to create the US Serial Set, and I still believe this to be the case. It is more. According to chapter one of the Federal Depository Library Manual, 44 USC 1710, together with 44 USC 1711 are the statutory authorities for the the Cataloging and Indexing Program which provides for bibliographic control of Government documents.

This is a surprising situation for me. Cataloging government publications seemed to be tied into sales program law (chapter 17), while shipping government publications is under a different section (chapter 19). We librarians so strongly association cataloging with libraries that it’s hard to picture cataloging as formally part of the Sales program; at least in statutory authority.

I have to confess that I don’t know where all the serial set volumes go. It seems like the House and Senate are getting twice as many as each individual Representative or Senator would need. Additionally, I’m not sure that 1,000 are still produced for distribution by the Superintendent of Documents. According to a recent FDLP-L posting, the Serial Set is only distributed to regionals in each state plus one copy per state without a regional. So I’d suspect that the others are not being produced. If someone with more information could comment, feel free!

Next time we will examine the other surprising piece of sales program law, the Catalog of Government Publications.

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