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Pt. 5: Nonlawyer’s journey through Title 44: Distribution to depositories

This post and all earlier postings in this series may now be found at http://freegovinfo.info/title44 or through our library under Nonlawyer’s Journey through Title 44.

As I proceed through selected parts of Title 44, I want to keep reminding our audience that I am not a lawyer and that I welcome comments from all, especially those with more experience in interpreting Title 44 than I do.

Sec. 1905 of US Code Title 44 carries the title Distribution to depositories; designation of additional libraries; justification; authorization for certain designations. While I will reproduce the whole section below, I will only comment on the portion in bold:

TITLE 44–PUBLIC PRINTING AND DOCUMENTS

CHAPTER 19–DEPOSITORY LIBRARY PROGRAM

Sec. 1905. Distribution to depositories; designation of
additional libraries; justification; authorization for certain
designations

The Government publications selected from lists prepared by the Superintendent of Documents, and when requested from him, shall be distributed to depository libraries specifically designated by law and to libraries designated by Senators, Representatives, and the Resident
Commissioner from Puerto Rico, by the Commissioner of the District of Columbia,\1\ and by the Governors of Guam, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands, respectively.
Additional libraries within areas served by Representatives or the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico may be designated by them to receive Government publications to the extent that the total number of libraries designated by them does not exceed two within each area. Not more than two additional libraries within a State may be designated by each Senator from the State. Before an additional library within a State, congressional district or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is designated as a depository for Government publications, the head of that library shall furnish his Senator, Representative, or the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico, as the case may be, with justification of the necessity for the additional designation. The justification, which shall also include a certification as to the need for the additional depository library designation, shall be signed by the head of every existing depository library within the congressional district or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or by the head of the library authority of the State or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, within which the additional depository library is to be located. The
justification for additional depository library designations shall be transmitted to the Superintendent of Documents by the Senator, Representative, or the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico, as the case may be. The Commissioner of the District of Columbia may designate two depository libraries in the District of Columbia, the Governor of Guam and the Governor of American Samoa may each designate one depository library in Guam and American Samoa, respectively, and the
Governor of the Virgin Islands may designate one depository library on the island of Saint Thomas and one on the island of Saint Croix.
—————————————————————————
\1\ See Transfer of Functions note below.
—————————————————————————

(Pub. L. 90-620, Oct. 22, 1968, 82 Stat. 1284.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on 44 U.S. Code, 1964 ed., Sec. 82 (R.S. Sec. 501; Mar. 1, 1907, ch. 2284, Sec. 4, 34 Stat. 1014; Aug. 9, 1962, Pub. L. 87-579, Sec. 2, 76 Stat. 353).

Transfer of Functions

Office of Commissioner of District of Columbia, as established under Reorg. Plan No. 3 of 1967, eff. Nov. 3, 1967 (in part), 32 F.R. 11669, 81 Stat. 948, abolished as of noon Jan. 2, 1975, by Pub. L. 93-198, title VII, Sec. 711, Dec. 24, 1973, 87 Stat. 818, and replaced by office of Mayor of District of Columbia by section 421 of Pub. L. 93-198.

Northern Marianas College as Depository

Pub. L. 101-219, title II, Sec. 202, Dec. 12, 1989, 103 Stat. 1874, provided that: “The Northern Marianas College is hereby constituted a depository to receive Government publications, and the Superintendent of Documents shall supply to the Northern Marianas College one copy of each
such publication in the same form as supplied to other designated depositories.”

District of Columbia Public Library as Depository

Act Sept. 28, 1943, ch. 243, 57 Stat. 568, provided: “That the Public Library of the District of Columbia is hereby constituted a designated depository of governmental publications, and the Superintendent of Documents shall supply to such library one copy of each such publication, in the same form as supplied to other designated depositories.”

Section Referred to in Other Sections

This section is referred to in section 1910 of this title; title 17 section 707.

Section 1905 is very clear. Publications selected from the Superintendent of Documents are to be distributed to depository libraries. It does not say only those items printed by the Superindent of Documents will be distributed. Again, this is a pre-Internet law, but if Congress wanted to relieve the Governmenting Printing Office (GPO) of its obligation to distribute government publications, it would have amended this section of the law to substitute access. Since that has not happened, GPO still has a obligation to distribute publications regardless of format and by now should have had a plan in place for local, distributed digital collections of government documents. With a distribution plan in place, libraries could make the necessary adjustments to receive digital materials, just as we did for tangible materials.

For the next step in our journey we are going to vault over some sections of the Depository Library Program Law regulating the designation of depository libraries, proceed to Sec. 1909. Requirements of depository libraries; reports on conditions; investigations; termination; replacement. It is important to not that Title 44 does not impose obligations on GPO alone, but also places obligations on libraries to serve the public responsibly.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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