Government Documents collection development

I. Responsibility

The Depository Coordinator has primary responsibility for the content of the government documents collections in accordance with the expectations of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), the Wisconsin Documents Depository Program (WDDP), the overall Murphy Library Collection Development Policy, and the policies described here.

II. FDLP and WDDP Information

The Federal Depository Library Program was established by Congress to ensure that the American public has access to its Government’s information. The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) administers the FDLP on behalf of the participating libraries and the public. Information products from the Federal Government are disseminated to these nationwide libraries that, in turn, ensure the American public has free access to the materials, both in print and online.  

The goal of the Wisconsin Document Depository Program, as authorized by Wisconsin state law, is to preserve and make available a record of major state government programs and assure the availability of state documents published by state agencies for use by Wisconsin citizens now and in the future regardless of format.  Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning (RL&LL), a team within the Department of Public Instruction, administers the WDDP on behalf of the participating libraries and the public.

Murphy Library is a designated selective depository library in both the FDLP and the WDDP. In priority order, the collection is designed to meet government information research needs of  

  1. The UW-La Crosse community,
  2. The people of Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional district (FDLP), and
  3. The general public.

Murphy Library adheres to the legal requirements and regulations published in Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program (US GPO, 2011) and General Responsibilities and Guidelines for All Types of Depository Libraries (WI RL&LL, 2008) along with all library guidance and instructions maintained by GPO and RL&LL.  All tangible publications received through the FDLP are marked as such, indicating that they remain the property of the United States government.

Murphy Library has selected around 50% of the resources distributed through the FDLP since joining the program in 1965.  Also locally, the La Crosse Public Library has been a selective Federal government documents depository library since 1883; they currently select around 20% of the resources distributed through the program.  The two Federal depository libraries in the City of La Crosse maintain working relations, including collection development coordination, reflecting complementary strengths of the two collections.  The FDLP regional depository library that serves the 3rd Congressional District with a comprehensive Federal government documents collection is the State Historical Society in Madison.

As a selective depository library in the WDDP since 1974, Murphy Library receives all materials designated for full distribution through the program.  Also locally, the La Crosse Public Library is a regional depository library in the WDDP, which means they also receive materials designated only for limited distribution through the program.

III. Subject Guidelines

Murphy Library makes special efforts to select FDLP materials in subject areas corresponding to graduate degrees offered by UWL:

  • Biology
  • Business Administration
  • Software Engineering
  • Exercise and Sport Science (Clinical Exercise Physiology, Human Performance, Physical Education Teaching, Sport Administration)
  • Health Education and Health Promotion
  • Health Professions (Medical Dosimetry, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physician Assistant Studies)
  • School Psychology
  • Recreation Management
  • Therapeutic Recreation
  • Education
  • Student Affairs Administration

IV. Language, Chronology, and Geographic Guidelines

A. English is the primary language of the collection.

B. The collection consists primarily of materials published since Murphy Library became a depository library.  Earlier publications may be added at times, see "Non-Depository Selection" below.

C. The collection emphasizes the national as well as upper Midwest regional perspectives. For Federal publications published for all 50 states, Murphy Library will select national summaries as well as versions of documents specific to the states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.

V. Format

The FDLP makes Federal government documents available in paper, microfiche, tangible electronic (CD/DVD), and online.  Murphy Library primarily selects online documents, and does not select microfiche materials.  Substantial historical collections in paper, microfiche, and CD/DVD formats are retained.  Some specialized formats including braille and posters are generally not selected.

The WDDP distributes Wisconsin government documents in both print and online formats.  Murphy Library adds all Wisconsin Digital Archives items to the cataloged collection.

VI. Duplicate, Superseded, or Expired Documents

Duplicate tangible copies of government documents are not retained unless of local significance.

The FDLP and WDDP allow for a number of supersession criteria to be invoked for withdrawal from the collection.  Valid criteria include material that has expired, or items where a revised, cumulative, or corrected tangible copy was subsequently received.  Murphy Library generally invokes the option to withdraw superseded publications when permitted under these criteria.

VII. Reference and Special Collections

While most tangible government documents held are shelved in a dedicated government documents location, a few current or key titles are selected for shelving in the reference collection in coordination with the Reference Librarian.  Links to government reference databases and other websites are also listed and promoted on appropriate Murphy Library resource guides.

Some rare, fragile, or local-interest government documents are housed in Special Collections, in coordination with the Special Collections Librarian.

VIII. Non-Depository Selection

Murphy Library may add publications to the collection through means such as donations received, purchases, or offers lists from other depository libraries, in accordance with collection development policies described here.  Such activity is normally very limited in scope; the vast majority of the government documents collections consist of materials received through the FDLP or the WDDP.

IX. Retention and Weeding

Other than routine withdrawal of duplicate, superseded, or expired materials, the FDLP requires the retention of tangible items received for at least five years, and the WDDP expects libraries to keep a copy of each document for at least two years.

Further weeding decisions are made by the Depository Coordinator utilizing criteria including:

  1. Is the document relevant in the context of the general collection and the curriculum of UWL?  May its relevance increase in the future?
  2. Does the document carry a significant historical value?  May it be historically significant in the future?
  3. Is the document of value to the community and the 3rd Congressional District?  May its value increase in the future?
  4. Is the space needed for higher priorities?

All withdrawals of government documents are made in adherence with the procedures and requirements of the FDLP and WDDP; FDLP materials are also offered to libraries nationally.  Murphy Library incurs no financial benefit from the disposal of government depository materials.

July 22, 2014