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Home » post » Pt. 8: Nonlawyer’s journey through Title 44: Regional depositories

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Pt. 8: Nonlawyer’s journey through Title 44: Regional depositories

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

Today we examine the part of USC Title 44 that deals with the depository librarian’s best friend – the Regional depository. Regionals are covered in Sec. 1912:



Sec. 1912. Regional depositories; designation; functions; disposal of publications

Not more than two depository libraries in each State and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico may be designated as regional depositories, and shall receive from the Superintendent of Documents copies of all new and revised Government publications authorized for distribution to depository libraries. Designation of regional depository libraries may be made by a Senator or the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico within the areas served by them, after approval by the head of the library authority of the State or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, as the case may be, who shall first ascertain from the head of the library to be so designated that the library will, in addition to fulfilling the requirements for depository libraries, retain at least one copy of all Government publications either in printed or microfacsimile form (except those authorized to be discarded by the Superintendent of Documents); and within the region served will provide interlibrary loan, reference service, and assistance for depository libraries in the disposal of unwanted Government publications. The agreement to function as a regional depository library shall be transmitted to the Superintendent of Documents by the Senator or the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico when the designation is made.

The libraries designated as regional depositories may permit depository libraries, within the areas served by them, to dispose of Government publications which they have retained for five years after first offering them to other depository libraries within their area, then to other libraries.

(Pub. L. 90-620, Oct. 22, 1968, 82 Stat. 1286.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on 44 U.S. Code, 1964 ed., Sec. 84a (Pub. L. 87-579, Sec. 9, Aug. 9, 1962, 76 Stat. 355.)

Section Referred to in Other Sections

This section is referred to in section 1911 of this title.

As the law above indicates, the three most important things to know about Regional libraries is that one they receive all tangible products distributed through the Federal Depository Library Program, they provide interlibrary loan and reference service to libraries within their region, and no selective library can dispose of unwanted Government publications without a Regional. This makes them sort of libraries of last resort when a selective library in the area cannot obtain a given government publication or gets stuck on a government information reference question.

To libraries blessed with a good Regional librarian, the Regional is kind of like a guardian angel. I’d like to take this moment to celebrate Herrick Heitmann, the current Regional librarian at the Washington State Library, and his predecessor, Arlene Weible, late of the University of North Texas and now on staff at the Oregon State Library. Both of them have been very generous with time and resources when my library needed help with documents and reference questions. This despite the fact that my library is in Alaska and they were in Washington state. Officially, Alaska’s seven selective depository libraries are part of the Washington system, but not all of Herrick and Arlene’s predecessors treated us that way. But both Herrick and Arlene regularly communicated (Herrick still communicates) with their northern charges. For that I am very grateful.

The gushing compliments above point out a fact not made clear by section 1912. While two depository libraries in each State and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico may be designated as regional depositories, not every state has a regional. Along with Alaska, Delaware, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming are served by Regionals outside the state. According to the latest listing from the Government Printing Office (GPO), there are 53 regionals. In recent years, GPO has proposed reducing the number of Regionals as a way to save on distribution costs. Some librarians agree with this approach, but others feel it is a minimum level of geographic dispersion. I fall into the second group. Additionally, I think it is clear is that if the number of regionals is significantly decreased, then the level of service they can provide to libraries and individuals will suffer. At a time when people are saying that they expect more help from their libraries with government information reducing the number of Regionals offering expert assistance seems like an unwise move.

Next time we’ll tackle a very short section (Sec. 1913. Appropriations for supplying depository libraries; restriction) of the depository law that I’m not sure how much light I can throw on, but thought you should be exposed to. I’d really appreciate it if anyone actually familiar with Sec. 1913 would drop me a line at dnlcornwall AT

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