An online petition in support of GPO has been created by Suzanne Sears and Starr Hoffman at the University of North Texas. Of most interest is the question at the end of the letter: "If you are a selective in the FDLP, are you interested in working with other selectives in your state to share regional services in the absence of a regional?"
Along these same lines, for your reading pleasure, here's the running tally of documents surrounding the ASERL Plan for Managing FDLP Collections in the Southeast and the proposed MOU between University of Minnesota Libraries and Library of Michigan/Michigan Department of Education. Please let us know in the comments if there are other documents that should be listed.
- CRS Memorandum Nov. 6, 2007 (scroll down to Congressional Research Service Memo)
- ASERL Reply to GPO Oct. 21, 2011
- ASERL/GPO letters
- ARL Letter (There are other letters of support linked off of this page. The ASERL and CIC responses are both there)
- ASERL Support of ARL Letter Oct. 17, 2011
- CIC Support of ARL Letter
- GWLA Support of ARL letter
- Regional Letter signed by 31 of 47 regionals
- Suzanne Sears' posting to GOVDOC-L in response to the ARL letter dated October 2011
- Back from the brink! Recent discussions and the future of the #FDLP. Free Government Information, 10/6/11
- Library Journal articles:
- 31 Regional Coordinators Protest FDLP Decisions. Library Journal, October 24th, 2011
- Government Printing Office Slams Brakes on Overhaul of Southeast's Federal Depository Library Collections. Library Journal, Oct 21, 2011
Members of the Joint Committee on Printing
William Boarman, US Public Printer
Mary Alice Baish, Superintendent of Documents
We, the undersigned, wish to state our strong support of the Government Printing Office (GPO) in its Congressionally-mandated authority of administrating the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), which operates under the specific legal parameters of Title 44 U.S.C. Chapter 19. All government agencies must operate within legal parameters and limited funds assigned to them, and GPO is no different.
While we acknowledge that there are long-standing problems with the FDLP and the Title 44 legislation, we believe that the current administration of GPO is making a concerted effort to rectify these issues while adhering to the current legal parameters. On Thursday, October 20, 2011, the current Superintendent of Documents, Mary Alice Baish, announced a plan to gather information from all libraries currently participating in the FDLP to begin the process of Title 44 reform. Previous attempts at revising the legislation for the FDLP has revealed three factors critical to successful reform: clear vision of what needs to be changed, consensus among the community, and members of Congress who support the legislative changes. The announced plan would be the first step in getting a clear vision of the major issues that need to be addressed according to a consensus of the community.
We understand that the situation that regional libraries find themselves in appears to be dire. Libraries across the nation are suffering from a lack of adequate space, funding, and staff. The responsibilities that Title 44 places on regional libraries are not insignificant. However, they are necessary to ensure a strong FDLP. These responsibilities are crucial to maintain no-fee permanent public access to government information and to ensure geographic distribution of comprehensive collections. Geographic distribution is essential particularly for the guarantee access of individuals with limited connectivity or who live in rural areas.
We fundamentally disagree with the statement that there is no flexibility within the existing FDLP. Any regional library that finds itself unable to fulfill its assigned duties of receipt, retention, and oversight of selective libraries has the option to drop its regional status and become a selective library or drop from the program entirely. The FDLP is designed so that selective libraries may maintain depository status and receive federal documents while being tasked with fewer demands on their space, staff, and fiscal resources. Selective libraries are an integral part of this program and are the face of government information for a wide portion of the U.S. population, particularly in rural areas. Libraries can continue to serve their patrons with the same level of high-quality service and collections whether they are selective or regional. Innovative solutions involving selectives have been successful in sharing regional services within a state, like in Oregon, where four institutions work together to share collections and services to provide regional services for the state.
We are concerned with the number of libraries dropping status, but there has historically been fluctuation within the program. The FDLP has survived these fluctuations for over 150 years. In the 2009 Biennial Survey, only 6 regional libraries indicated they were considering dropping their regional status. If the current economic climate necessitates these regional libraries and others dropping their status, then it will be a lamentable loss to the program and to the nation. However, if the remaining libraries in the program are fully committed to the program then the mission of no-fee permanent public access will still be maintained.
Recent letters and public statements may give the incorrect impression that the entirety of the government documents community is represented by those statements. We believe it necessary to draft this statement of support for GPO and the existing FDLP because our opinions are not supported by the letter signed by 31 of 47 regional libraries or the letters written by major academic library consortia. There are over 1,200 libraries in the FDLP. Some of those libraries are not as well funded, organized, or vocal as the larger academic libraries. This petition is an opportunity for FDLs not represented by those statements to demonstrate our support for GPO in its efforts to continue to lead the Federal Depository Library Program forward into the future.
1. Your Signature and Location
Your Signature and Location Name
2. If you are a selective library in the FDLP, are you interested in becoming a regional?
If you are a selective library in the FDLP, are you interested in becoming a regional? YesNo
3. If you are a selective in the FDLP, are you interested in working with other selectives in your state to share regional services in the absence of a regional?
If you are a selective in the FDLP, are you interested in working with other selectives in your state to share regional services in the absence of a regional? YesNo
We've been following with much interest and concern the ongoing and unfolding saga going on between the GPO, Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and Association of Southeast Research Libraries (ASERL) (under the heading "future of the federal depository library program"). This post to Govdoc-l from Suzanne Sears (AUL for public services at University of North Texas and former chair of Depository Library Council) on October 20, 2011 is in response to the ARL Statement on Recent USGPO Decisions Concerning the FDLP dated
October 2011 (released October 12, 2011) and attempts to add context and correct some inaccuracies in the ARL statement.
From: Sears, Suzanne
Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2011 2:00 AM
To: Discussion of Government Document Issues
Subject: RE: ARL Statement on Recent USGPO Decisions Concerning the FDLP
I have been reading over and over the statement released by ARL that Larry so kindly posted for everyone on GOVDOCL and feel strongly that there are inaccuracies in some of the statements that need to be addressed. The following is solely my opinion and not meant in any way to offend anybody, just my concern that some things are not quite right and need to be cleared up.
Point 1 refers to long standing precedent for the approval of multi-state regionals. In the meeting this week, Bernadine Abbott Hoduski spoke on this issue. Prior to 2008, there was no legal opinion on the multi-state regionals. In September 2007, then Acting Public Printer William Turri sent a letter to the JCP seeking approval of the Kansas-Nebraska proposal http://www.fdlp.gov/home/repository/doc_download/49-letter-from-acting-p.... The response letter from the Honorable Robert Brady to Public Printer Robert Tapella in February 2008 http://www.fdlp.gov/home/repository/doc_download/50-letter-from-the-hono..., states that the JCP sought legal guidance on this issue from the Congressional Research Service (CRS). It further states "CRS concluded that neither the language nor legislative history of 44 U.S.C. 1914 supports GPO’s interpretation of the statute. After careful review, the Joint Committee finds the CRS analysis persuasive; if the Public Printer may not authorize shared regional depository libraries under 44 U.S.C.1914, the JCP cannot approve such action." Now that a legal opinion exists, GPO cannot simply ignore it.
In point 2, there is a quote from Title 44 regarding the authority of Senators to designate regional libraries. Part of that quote is "within the areas served by them." I am no lawyer, but I do know that Senators serve states, so the areas served by them would be the state that elected them. To me this means that Senators are not authorized to choose a library from outside their state to serve as a regional for their state. This is my opinion.
In point 3, the discussion of regionals and retrospective collections are brought up. The opening third paragraph makes it sound as though the requirement regarding comprehensive collections was decided within the last nine months. This is inaccurate. I served on the Depository Library Council from October 2008-July 2011. In a presentation given by Cindy Etkin at the Fall 2009 DLC meeting, she stated the following "regionals are required to retain what’s distributed to them and there is not an obligation to go back and collect materials prior to when they became a regional? As I’ve shown, it’s been in the guidelines and brought forward; and even as it is today, the regional itself does not have to hold the materials." She also discussed how the Depository Library Council developed guidelines around 1973 that recommended regionals collect retrospectively. After the meeting, the DLC asked Ric Davis to investigate this issue was it required or just a guideline. We were told during a phone conference call that the Legal Counsel's opinion was that it was a requirement. This was in 2009, not 2011.
I have to admit that point 4 totally confuses me. I do not understand where the legal opinion that multi-state regionals are not supported in the language of Title 44 precludes collaboration across state lines. GPO encourages collaboration among depositories. The Digitization Projects Registry is just one of the many tools GPO has developed to help foster collaboration between depositories, both selectives and regionals. Although the FDLP community may not be used by everyone, it is an attempt by GPO to bring depositories together to collaborate on topics.
Point 5 refers to "new unfunded mandates and requirements, especially without consultation." I am extremely confused with this point. I have had discussions with several individuals at the DLC meeting this week and the only thing I can figure out that point 5 is referring to is the new document that GPO released in June 2011 "Legal Requirements and Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program." This document was released by GPO after consultation with the Depository Library Council. The DLC had been requesting GPO clarify the legal requirements since the Spring 2009 DLC meeting in Tampa. We had heard from the community that the FDL Handbook was too cumbersome to go through to pull out the regulations and that a more compact publication containing only the legal requirements was needed to discuss with our directors and deans. GPO created this document with feedback from the DLC and published it in June 2011. To be clear, these are long standing legal requirements and regulations that have been compiled into a new publication.
My issue with point 7 can be considered more an opinion rather than fact, based on my three years on DLC and my 27 years working with depository collections. I feel that GPO spends considerable time and effort on ways to engage and facilitate partnerships with the community for expanding the digital content. They are restricted in what they can do because of budget and law. They operate within strict legal parameters. For instance, the community has requested that GPO offer grants for digitization. GPO has no legal authority to do so, therefore they can not help in this way. The Digitization Projects Registry is improving due to constant consultation between the community and GPO. It is a tool for libraries to use to collaborate on digital efforts and to avoid duplication of effort.
I do understand the issues facing depositories, both selectives and regionals, regarding their individual institutions needs and the demands on budgets, staffing, and space of a depository collection. Like everyone in the depository community, I am desperate to find a successful solution to these problems to ensure the viability of the program. I am hopeful that the day long discussion Thursday will result in some positive solutions within the framework of Title 44. I want to echo my colleague Dan Cornwall's statement in his blog "Back from the Brink" http://freegovinfo.info/blog/17, developing a model for the future of the FDLP is going to require cooperation from libraries in the program and GPO. Now is the time we need to pull together and find a common ground for a workable solution. We need to work together to clear up misinformation, rumors, and innuendos that are causing several members of our community to feel personally attacked. As a community, we have disagreed many times over the years on what is the best solution to many problems, but we have never brought it to the point that it is now. I am extremely concerned that the contentious situation we find ourselves in is going to create an atmosphere among Legislators that the program is not worth spending tax payer dollars on and considerably effect the appropriations for vital services like FDSys and the FDLP.
Assistant Dean for Public Services
University of North Texas Libraries
1155 Union Circle #305190
Denton, Texas 76203-5017
From an ARL Announcement:
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) released a statement calling upon the US Government Printing Office (GPO) to reverse its recent, troubling decisions concerning the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). ARL asked that GPO approve the University of Minnesota Libraries as the regional for the State of Michigan once it is designated by the relevant Senators, as well as approve and support the ASERL “Guidelines for Managing FDLP Collections in the Southeast Region.” Such actions are consistent with GPO past precedent and, importantly, comply with provisions in Title 44. These types of collaborations and cooperative efforts are essential to the success of the FDLP both now and in the future.
ARL and its members have long-standing participation in and support for the FDLP, a partnership between the Federal Government and libraries throughout the United States that ensures the public has no-fee access to US government information. ARL members invest significant staff, financial resources, and space allocations to the Program with the belief that equitable access to information about our Government and its programs is central to our democracy. Recently, changes in policy and practice by GPO and its failure to embrace needed changes to the Program present serious challenges to the Program’s sustainability and viability. These changes will seriously impact the ability of the public to effectively access government information both now and in the future.
Decisions by the leadership of GPO over the last nine months call for costly changes in practice by federal depository libraries that are not supported by provisions in Title 44, the governing statute of the Program. In addition, GPO leadership has reinterpreted provisions in Title 44 and dismissed long-standing precedent concerning the designation of regional federal depository libraries to the Program. Finally, GPO has not acknowledged current library practice across all types of libraries and has not positioned the Program and its resources to reflect how users engage in digital discovery and access to information.
Read the Complete Statement (2 pages; PDF)
See Also: Background and Primary Documents:
Recent Developments on FDLP as of August 2011 (via ARL)
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has released the following 10-page paper:
Documents for Digital Democracy: A Model for the Federal Depository Library Program in the 21st Century, Interim Summary, prepared by Ithaka S + R
It is the top link at http://www.arl.org/pp/access/fdlp/index.shtml