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Public Libraries and US Code Index

Recently, there was a govdoc-l thread on the posibility of Congress discontinuing its printed index to the United States Code. At first this didn’t seem to be such a big deal since my library also subscribes to the U.S.C.A, LEXIS and the code itself is freely available online.

Subject: Re: US Code Index may be eliminated

I’m so glad you posed this question! I sometimes feel in the minority in the gov docs community because I’m at a public library, and your question brings up issues that are at the heart of serving our public! Our limited funds mean that Westlaw, Lexis, and other paid databases are not options, so yes, our patrons do use the index, and usually prefer using the print to the electronic option. They also use the appendices.

Please let the good folks at the Office of Law Revision Counsel know that if they do not put the money into the print version, then PLEASE spend that money on more computers, more instructional classes for library staff and the public, and more database access in our public libraries! Access to our country’s laws should not be dependent upon the economic class of the person requesting it!

Melissa Earley

Reference Librarian II, Government Documents & H. Carlisle Bean Law Library
Spartanburg County Public Libraries

Since the vast majority of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) libraries have historically been academic and special libraries, it is easy to overlook the needs of public libraries (20%) which as a group have fewer resources. Additionally, although public libraries are the smallest part of the FDLP, they are closest to the ordinary citizen that the FDLP is supposed to serve. So the federal government and the rest of the depostiory community have a responsibility to make it easier for public libraries to provide federal government information, not harder. If print is what is needed to help public libraries, the government should give it to them.

Thanks Melissa for bringing this issue of public library needs to the community’s attention.

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