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Lost Docs Blog News: New Category – Explanation Needed

3/1/2010 – Updated to add criteria of non-distribution of tangible product to FDLP.

Thanks to some documents reported to FGI’s Lost Docs Blog last month, the Lost Docs blog has a new category that needs explaining. The category is called “Explanation Needed.”

GPO lost docs receipts submitted to lostdocs.freegovinfo.info will be assigned this category if:

1) Cataloging records exist for both tangible (Paper and/or microfiche) and online versions of the item submitted that were added to the Catalog of Government Publications (CGP) earlier than the datestamp on the lost docs receipt.

2) The catalog record for the tangible version indicates that GPO cataloged the tangible version within five years of the publishing date of the item.

3) There is clear evidence from the bib record or depository librarian testimony that the tangible item was NOT offered to Federal Depository Libraries.

We have a five year limit because GPO Acquisitions staff have indicated they rarely have success in finding depository copies of tangible items more than five years old.

We at FGI don’t insist that GPO distribute a tangible item when that item is solely available in an online format, but when a tangible item is available and fits the program, it should be distributed. GPO’s policy on dissemination, SOD 301, states (emphasis mine), “When the product is available both online and in a tangible format, GPO will disseminate the online version to depository libraries. Tangible versions will be offered as well, budget permitting.” Hopefully this means that most of the time the budget will permit this. If an item wasn’t distributed for budget reasons, GPO should note this in the print record.

Until the non-distribution of these tangible items is explained and obviously noted in the cataloging record for a given item, it will keep the “Explanation Needed” tag. However, we will also continue to tag such items as “false positive” since we believe the primary focus of “lost docs” is documenting government publications that have escaped the National Bibliography GPO is required to maintain and because people do have access (at least for now) to the online version.

We encourage depositories to report non-distribution of CGP-Cataloged documents through GPO help and not through the Lost Docs form.

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