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Government Publications Subject Guide Title


Hiram College Library Policies for Federal Depository

Jeff Wanser, Government Documents Librarian

Revised April 2015

Collection Development Policy

The Hiram College Library is a selective depository for U.S. government publications, and has been since 1874.  While its primary service population consists of the students, faculty, and staff of the Hiram College community, it also serves the people of the 14th Congressional District of Ohio.  Because of this larger audience and wider range of potential clientele, selection of materials for the collection takes into account more than the information needs of a liberal arts college.  As a selective depository, the library receives approximately 63% of federal publications made available through the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).  This is a high percentage in comparison to other small college depositories, however we believe that it is important to be as comprehensive as possible in selection.


The Library is obligated to comply with Title 44, Chapter 19 of the United States Code (Depository Library Program), the Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program (2011), and the Guidelines and Instructions provided at the at the FDLP website, as well as instructions provided by the State Library of Ohio, the Regional Depository for the state.  These documents outline both legal requirements and recommended procedures for depository libraries.


The Library receives U.S. government publications through the FDLP at no upfront cost, and agrees to hold all documents so obtained for at least five years (unless superseded) and maintain an organized and accessible collection.  Permission must be obtained from the State Library of Ohio to dispose of individual documents after five years.  The State Library has issued guidelines for this process.  A large majority of publications added to the collection are retained permanently (or at least indefinitely), as they become an important historical record of activity and research by the federal government.  Most government publications are now issued in electronic format, and the Library provides access through its catalog to these publications.


Organization of the Collection


Federal government publications are organized according to the Superintendent of Documents Classification System (SuDoc), and housed separately from the book and other collections.  In addition, they are organized by format.  Aside from the print collection, microfiche are housed adjacent to the other microforms collections (for ease of use of reader/printer/scanners), large-scale maps in a separate map case area, and CD-ROMs in CD cabinets devoted to that purpose.  Exceptions include several print publications housed in the Reference Collection (e.g. recent volumes of the Statistical Abstract, U. S. Government Manual, and others), and the DVDs and videos, which are housed with the Library’s media collection.  All collections are located on library signage and maps of the library.


Bibliographic Access


All currently received Federal government publications are cataloged as soon as the bibliographic records are available.  The Library subscribes to Marcive’s service for providing bibliographic records for government publications, and has done so since the mid-1990s.  The Library receives a monthly batch load of records based upon its item selection profile, and provides access to print, microfiche, CD-ROM/DVD, and electronic publications through its catalog.  The catalog provides a scoping feature that allows users to search only government publications if so desired.  


Retrospective cataloging of Federal government publications is ongoing, and done as time, need, and opportunity permit.  All cataloging of government publications is done by the Documents Librarian.


Selection of Materials


Responsibility for selection and review of item numbers resides with the Government Documents Librarian, in consultation with other Library staff, faculty, and other concerned parties.  Item selection is normally reviewed every two years, with occasional additions or deletions at other times, as time and opportunity permit.  The List of Classes is consulted, along with other sources such as New Electronic Titles.


Selection of materials takes into account both the present needs of the Hiram community and the general public, as well as possible future use.  Criteria considered besides immediate or likely need are: 1. subject area; 2. issuing agency; and 3. type of material (format and type of publication).  Generally, electronic access is preferred over paper or microfiche publications, with exceptions based upon needs of the community.


Materials are generally selected for the collection that pertain to the curriculum of the college, and that may be of interest to the wider community.  Highly specialized and technical materials, along with some legal materials are not often selected unless they pertain to curricular matters (i.e. environmental studies) or are of regional interest (Ohio, the Great Lakes).  In addition, materials in a broad spectrum of subject areas are selected, in order to provide a balanced collection and to provide access to a wide range of materials to the larger community.  In addition, the Documents Librarian searches for specific publications of interest, usually electronic, to be added to the catalog on a case-by-case basis.


Because of subject interest or curricular needs, publications of some government agencies or departments are selected in depth.  These include, but are not limited to, the following:


Census Bureau (Ohio)

Civil Rights Commission


Department of Education

Energy Information Administration

Environmental Protection Agency

Forest Service

Fish & Wildlife Service

Department of the Interior (general)

Joint Chiefs of Staff

Bureau of Justice Statistics

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Bureau of Land Management

National Defense University

National Institute of Justice

National Institute on Drug Abuse

National Park Service

National Science Foundation


Occupational Safety & Health Administration

President & White House

Public Health Service

Small Business Administration

Smithsonian Institution

Department of State

Certain types of publications are selected for all agencies, such as annual reports.


Evaluation, Retention, Deselection


Beyond selection of new item numbers, evaluation of the collection is done as time permits.  Most efforts in this area involve identification of superseded publications.  Occasionally, other materials will be deselected, and the Library follows guidelines for disposal as outlined by the Guidelines and Instructions of the FDLP, as well as those specified by the State Library of Ohio.  Normally, physical documents must be retained for five years, after which they may be offered to other libraries or discarded, upon receiving permission from the State Library of Ohio.


Inter-Library Cooperation


The Hiram College Library loans the vast majority of government publications to non-Hiram community members through three mechanisms, OhioLINK, SearchOhio, and OCLC Interlibrary loan.  OhioLINK, the statewide consortium of academic libraries, accounts for much of this.  SearchOhio, the consortium of public library systems, also may borrow documents from the Library.  Currently, SearchOhio includes the Portage County Library (where Hiram resides), as well as the county library systems of all surrounding counties.  Finally, members of other library systems not in either of the above systems, or from out of state, may request materials through the OCLC interlibrary loan system.  Loans are at no cost to the individual requester, except insofar as the requesting library may charge for the service.  


In addition, individuals with library cards from OhioLINK or SearchOhio libraries may come to Hiram and borrow materials directly.  This is further outlined in the Access Policy section.


There are a few exceptions to the generally open policy on loans.  These include materials in the Reference Collection or otherwise non-circulating, materials on Reserve for classes, and materials too fragile to be shipped.


Gifts and Non-Depository Publications


The Library occasionally receives gifts of government publications from individuals, or directly from government agencies.  While these materials are not bound by the regulations pertaining to depository libraries, the Documents Librarian may add them to the collection if deemed suitable.  After being added, no distinction is made between depository and nondepository materials, and all such publications are treated are subsequently treated as depository in origin.




The Library attempts to preserve and maintain the physical copies of government publications it receives through a variety of means.  Print documents are treated much like other print materials in terms of binding, mending, and occasionally using phase boxes for preservation.  Some paperback volumes are treated with Kapco covers, particularly those expected to receive significant use, such as those residing in the Reference Collection.  Others receive archivally-approved tape or other materials to aid in longer shelf lives.  Currently, we have no plans to either preserve by deacidification or by digitizing.


Access Policy


Physical Access


The Library has open stacks, and all Federal government publications are accessible to all users.  The current building, constructed in 1995, complies with ADA guidelines for disability access.  There are no restrictions on who may enter or use the Library’s collections in-house. The Library is normally open more than 90 hours per week, although this may vary depending on specific weekend hours, spring break, exam periods, and summer, when hours may be abbreviated, or extended.  Documents collections are available all hours that the library is open.  See the Library’s website for details (http://library.hiram.edu/).



Loan Access


Anyone in the Hiram College community, OhioLINK community, or SearchOhio community may borrow materials directly from the Library, or request them from off-site.  Those individuals who are not members of those communities (for example, out-of-state visitors) may use the Library’s collections in-house, or may become members of the Friends of the Hiram College Library, which allows them to borrow materials.  Individual membership is currently $30.


Bibliographic Access


Nearly all Federal Depository publications received since the mid-1990s have been cataloged.  Older publications continue to be added.  All electronic publications selected are also cataloged.


Technological Access


The Library maintains a suite of desktop computers.  Several of these are designated for open access (no password required) and may be used by anyone at any time.  Some others require a campus computer account.  Many of the Library’s computers are wheelchair accessible.  Microfiche reader/printer/scanners are available, so that users may print, download, or scan images to a portable drive.  One of these is built to be wheelchair-accessible.  CD-ROMs and DVDs may be used in-house on many of the Library’s computers or on computers in the Media Center, housed in the lower level of the building.  Headphones are available for listening.  Printing and copying are available on site, and non-Hiram community users pay $.05 per copy.  Scanning or downloading to a flash drive is free.


Reference Service


Reference service is available whenever a librarian is stationed at the Reference Desk, or on an on-call basis when not staffed.  Normal hours vary by time of year, but include all weekday afternoons and most weekday evenings as well as many weekend hours.  See the Library’s website for details.  Reference librarians will aid all users in finding government publications in any format, use of copying and printing and microfiche reader/printer/scanners, and computer use.  




Publicizing the Library’s participation in the FDLP and promoting use of the collection takes multiple forms at many scales, ranging from the simplest, displaying the Depository Library decal at the front door, or recommending specific government publications for students doing research, to more large-scale efforts, such as maintaining a government information website, newspaper or newsletter columns and radio public service announcements.  The Library attempts to use all of these in various ways at various times.  Among the more common publicity efforts are:


  • In-house displays on particular timely subjects using a variety of government publications (for example, a display on national parks incorporating brochures from NPS)
  • A regular column, “Hidden Treasures in the Library,” in a library newsletter, featuring specific sets of publications, especially primary sources (for example, German war documents, Smithsonian Institution publications, Presidential Papers)
  • Occasional columns in a local free newspaper, describing online government resources.
  • Instruction classes to students incorporating government publications as important sources of information, in courses ranging from Environmental Studies to Sociology to History.
  • Occasional public service announcements on the college’s Internet radio station.
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