Co-authored by Jaime Witman
February has been designated by The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) as Love My Federal Depository Library month. But what is a Federal Depository Library (FDL), what does it have to do with FSU, and why should we love it? These are all great questions, so let’s get started!
A Federal Depository Library is a library that provides free, equitable access to U.S. government publications to the public. The Federal Depository Library Program or FDLP was created by Congress to ensure that all Americans have access to published government information. The FSU Libraries became a member of FDLP in 1941. This means that at FSU Libraries, government information and documents can be accessed by students, faculty, and local and visiting patrons for free.
So what is a “government document”? 44 U.S. Code § 1901 defines a government publication as “informational matter which is published as an individual document at Government expense, or as required by law” (Pub. L. 90–620, Oct. 22, 1968, 82 Stat. 1283). Simply, government documents are publications produced by the different agencies of government. These can be bills and statutes, the U.S. budget, presidential materials, congressional documents, judicial publications (court opinions and independent counsel investigations), executive agency publications, regulations, and much more.
As a federally mandated depository library, FSU commits to providing free public access to all tangible and online publications distributed by the Government Publishing Office. Government documents at FSU are housed in the basement of the Strozier Library. There are currently more than 470,000 tangible government documents, including approximately 340,000 microfilms, 135,000 bound volumes of congressional and agency publications, and 1,600 nautical maps. These documents cover business and the economy, education, the environment, health and safety, history, politics, law, science and technology, people and cultures, U.S. census, demographics and urban planning. We also provide electronic access to bills and laws (1789 – present), congressional hearings (1824–present), house and senate documents and reports (1817–present), congressional serial set and maps (1789–present), and house and senate floor votes report, through our electronic databases. Last year alone, more than 2,500 visitors from within the FSU and Leon County community used our print and electronic government documents collection.
Now that you know about the Federal Depository Library Program, and that FSU Libraries is a member, please come visit our collection and enjoy the wealth of information funded by your tax dollars. We have congressional publications issued since the first Congress, as well as publications from every cabinet level department and administrative agency. Our collection is accessible all hours that Strozier is open, and a staff person will be there to help you. To know more about our government documents collection, please visit the FSU Library’s research guide to US Government, or contact Mohamed Berray, Social Sciences Librarian, and Coordinator for Government Documents.
If you are a Seminole fan (as you should be!), then come check our Department of Interior publications:
- the corporate charter of the Seminole Tribe of Florida (I 20.9/2: Se5/3)
- the constitution and bylaws of the Seminole tribe of Florida (I 20.9/2: Se5/4)
Or use our electronic resources to see:
- the Supreme Court’s decision in Seminole Tribe of Florida v. State of Florida (May 9, 1996)
- the act for the admission of the States of Iowa and Florida into the Union by the 28th Congress on March 3, 1845 (5 Stat. 742)
- the admission of the State of Vermont by the very first Congress on February 18, 1791 (1 Stat. 191).
Now that you know some reasons to love your FDL, tweet @FSULibrary using #lovemyFDL to share your own discoveries with us!