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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Petition in support of GPO and the #FDLP

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.


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
Position (optional)

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