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Newsletter of the Federal Depository Library Program

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Cumulative Table of Contents Vol. 1 - present [ PDF ] ( includes current issue )

May 1, 2003

GP 3.16/3-2:24/05
(Vol. 24, no. 05)

Remarks by Judy Russell
Superintendent of Documents
before the
Spring 2003 Meeting of the Depository Library Council
April 8, 2003
Reno, NV

Let me start by saying that both Bruce James and I would like to thank the Council and all of you for your participation in the Monday session on the future of the FDLP. Both of us found it very helpful, and you will see the information that you shared with us reflected back in what we say and do in the coming months.

I'm very pleased to be back at GPO and working again with the depository community.

Would the audience please stand to identify yourselves by library type: academic (all and then all that do not consider themselves large), public, academic law, other law, research libraries, federal/military libraries, court, state and other. Could the library directors stand and be recognized? Thank you all for taking the time to come and participate. We are especially grateful to the library directors for taking the time to come and be part of these discussions about the future of the FDLP.

Staff Changes

I'd like to announce several staff changes within the Superintendent of Documents organization:

  • T.C. Evans was promoted to Deputy Superintendent of Documents in January;
  • Ric Davis has been promoted to Director of the Office of Electronic Information Dissemination Services (EIDS)
  • Bonnie Trivizas is retiring as Chief of the Library Division in the Library Programs Service and Sheila McGarr is returning to GPO in that position;
  • T.C. Evans is serving as the Acting Director of Sales until that position is filled; applications for that position have been received and are being reviewed, so there should be an announcement on that position within a few weeks;
  • Karen Sieger has been promoted to Product Services Manager in EIDS; she led the team that has developed the new web pages for GPO Access.

New GPO Access Pages

The launch of the new GPO Access pages was the culmination of months of work with focus groups, through usability testing, user surveys, and feedback received through the GPO Access User Support Team from Congress, Federal agencies, the depository library community, and the public. The prototype pages were shown at the ALA midwinter meeting and other places in advance of launch. The use of the new website designation, <www.gpoaccess.gov>, was not certain until the Thursday before the Council meeting. I apologize for the lack of more advance notice on the change in the URL. The old addresses will continue to work for some time and redirects will be put in place for each of the old links. We have heard the concerns of the community and will make sure that major changes are announced in advance next time.

New Depository Library Council Members

I want to ask the new members of the Depository Library Council to stand and be recognized as I mention their names. Their terms will begin in October 2003. We are pleased that four of them could be with us at this meeting. Present at the meeting are Chuck Eckman from Stanford University; Cheryl Malone from the University of Arizona School of Information Resources and Library Science (SIRLS), Barbara Selby from the University of Virginia Law Library, and Duncan Aldrich from the University of Nevada, Reno. John Graham from the Cincinnati Hamilton County Public Library was unable to attend because it is tax season and he is short of staff.

Projects and Plans

GPO is negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). This contract will make GPO an official "archival affiliate" and all of the GPO Access databases will be considered the official archival copies as if they had been transferred to NARA, but GPO will continue to maintain them for permanent public access.

Ric Davis is leading a GPO task force to implement digital signatures on Congressional bills, Federal Register documents and eventually on all GPO Access files. These digital signatures will allow users of downloaded files to determine that the files are unchanged since they were "authenticated" by GPO.

Bruce James has indicated that the first year of his term as Public Printer will be spent gathering facts about where GPO and its partners are and what we anticipate for the future, as a basis for a strategic planning process. He has encouraged GPO to work with the community to develop demonstration or pilot projects, which will test ideas about services that we may wish to offer in the future and provide facts about how such services should be implemented. GPO will also use surveys both to support data gathering and analysis of the pilot projects and to gather more general information about the FDLP and its users.

We have a number of pilot projects that are underway or contemplated:

  • Economic Development Pilot: The work of the Council's Subcommittee on Attrition and Retention (SOAR) shows that many of the libraries that left the program in recent years are small academic and public libraries in economically disadvantaged areas. GPO is developing a pilot project that will help comparable libraries that remain in the FDLP to focus their collection and services on government publications that are specifically applicable to community economic development. GPO will combine that recommended collection with specialized training on the utilization of the resources and seek training and other assistance from agencies with responsibility for small and minority business development. GPO may also provide workstations to these libraries, since they may not be able to afford the initial investment in appropriate equipment. We hope this program will provide a strong economic benefit and real incentive for such libraries to remain in the program and utilize information available from the Federal government to assist their communities.
  • Kiosk: At the ALA midwinter meeting, we saw a kiosk that had been developed for the New Jersey State Library that included links to GPO Access, the Catalog of Government Publications, the Online Government Bookstore, Ben's Guide, locating a Federal Depository Library and other Federal information sources. 3M and Public Information Kiosk, Inc. have brought one of the kiosks here to Reno, and it is available for you to test drive in the registration area. They have helped us adapt some of the screens from the New Jersey kiosk to show how we might use a kiosk for public access and as a GPO bookstore. The kiosk includes a telephone that can be used to call the GPO Access user support team or a reference librarian in a depository library. It also has a credit card reader for purchases or to pay for printing on the printer that is part of the unit. GPO plans to define one or more pilot projects using the kiosk so we can learn more about how this technology might assist us in the sale and delivery of government publications.
  • State-wide Roll-out of GPO Access: I have had discussions with several state librarians and with the executive board of the Chief Operating Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) about ways for GPO to help State Libraries treat GPO Access and Ben's Guide the same way that they treat commercial databases and e-journals that are licensed under statewide contracts. Although the State Library doesn't have to pay for GPO Access and Ben's Guide, they have been paid for with appropriated funds. We would like to develop and test a roll-out package that can be supported with literature and training, so that GPO Access and Ben's Guide can be available to the public in every school and public library in the test states. We would want to survey for recognition and use of these products before and after the roll-out so we could determine its effectiveness.
  • DOE Pilot Projects: Some of you participated in a meeting earlier this week about the new opportunities presented to us by the Department of Energy (DOE), which has been a long time partner of GPO and the FDLP. As part of the Information Bridge, DOE has developed two new capabilities that it would like to test with depository libraries. One is a means to establish a profile based on search strategy or list of key words, so that every new document that is added to the database that matches the profile of the library will result in an e-mail notification of availability with a link to review or retrieve the document. The other is a means to identify categories of documents, much like the categories that were previously used to select subsets of the DOE microfiche, and all electronic documents fitting the category would be placed in a holding area from which the selecting library could FTP the copies to store and use locally. These items would be placed in a pre-determined folder at regular intervals and held for several days to provide an opportunity to the library to download the files. The content would be superseded at scheduled intervals with new material matching the profile.
  • University of Arizona Pilot Project: Later in the program you will hear a presentation from the University of Arizona about their project to become the first all electronic selective depository library. They are working with GPO to identify electronic counterparts for all of the items that they select and systematically substituting those items for tangible products. This will help us examine the characteristics and service requirements for depository libraries in the future when all, or virtually all, of the material available through the FDLP is electronic.
  • Academic Law Library Pilot Project: We are seeking one or more academic law libraries for a similar project to test the feasibility of an all electronic academic law depository library.
  • Digitization and Preservation: We have been offered a set of 20 years of paper copies of Congressional hearings and we would like to find one or more depository libraries to work with us on digitizing this collection. We also want to encourage depository libraries to seek digitization and preservation grants for retrospective conversion of other materials from their Federal documents collections. GPO will work with the libraries to see that all converted items are cataloged; to establish standards for digitization that will result in searchable files; to ensure that the digitized materials are part of the FDLP and available for permanent public access; and to serve as a clearinghouse for information about digitization projects so that we can eliminate redundancy.
  • New Concept for Inspectors: The regional depository libraries have been asked to develop proposals for pilot projects to test a new concept for inspections. We would like to establish locally based "consultants," who would be assigned responsibility for approximately 40 to 60 depository libraries in a geographic area. They would visit each of those libraries at least once per quarter, some for only a few hours and others for a day or more, depending on the need. They would offer training and attend local, state and regional documents meetings to speak and answer questions. They could assist with self-studies, help train new documents librarians, and advise on problems related to item selection, collection development policies, etc. The idea is to recruit from the community people who would serve in the community for a year or two and then return to work in a depository library. We have asked several regionals to consider providing a home base for such consultants, including office space, and mentoring/supervising them. A few regionals said they might be able to use a member of their own staff if GPO would cover the travel expenses. Others said they would prefer a GPO employee.

Analysis of Policies and Procedures

In my discussions with GPO staff and members of the depository community, I have been emphasizing the idea that "one size does not fit all." We are beginning to re-evaluate procedures, policies and regulations to determine what is best for each size and type of depository library. The core collection for a small public library may be very different from that of an academic research library or an academic law library. The technical requirements for a library with a large information commons may be quite different than those for a small library, which will need one or more dedicated workstations for access to Federal government information. For example, academic law libraries tell us that there are currently no DVDs offered in the items they select, so they do not understand why they should be required to have a workstation with a DVD player. Similarly, the list of titles that should always remain in paper may be different for different sizes and types of libraries. The breakout sessions on Wednesday morning are intended to provide an opportunity for dialog among librarians from similar institutions.

I have been having a series of conference calls with librarians from different types of libraries and will continue to do that as a means to explore the barriers to and incentives for participation in the FDLP, now and in the future. I encourage every one here to network among yourselves and with others who were not able to attend the meeting and then top provide feedback to us on the changes that you would like to see.

Digitization Projects

Gil is going to speak about progress on the acquisition of an integrated library system and our plans to establish a GPO collection of tangible materials, so I will not elaborate on either of those projects.

We would like to replace the microfiche contracts as they expire with contracts for digitizing documents. GPO will work with the community to develop specifications and standards that will result in searchable, useful electronic files.

Retrospective scanning is also an important issue. There is a need for library partners to help GPO identify and convert segments of the historical collections, again using common specifications and standards so the files are searchable and can be readily shared and preserved for permanent public access. Hopefully, libraries can obtain grants from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the National Science Foundation and other sources to help fund these efforts. Retrospective digitization will not only improve access to the older materials, it will enable the libraries that need or wish to do so to weed their collections and substitute the electronic titles. GPO will ensure that cataloging records are created for historical documents as they are digitized.

GPO is also seeking library partners to assist us with the development of virtual reference services and web-based training.

Next Generation of GPO Access and Other Developments

We are planning for the next generation of GPO Access. The new website is already available and should make it easier for users to find the right databases and search them effectively. Specifications are being developed for the functionality of the new search engine and platform. Procurement regulations limit what we can say about this, but it will be XML based and we will migrate forward all of the current GPO Access databases, adding XML coding and digital signatures. The target is to select the new software by the end of the year and implement next year. The FY 2004 appropriation request includes $4.1 million for that purpose.

GPO has now joined CENDI, the interagency group of scientific and technical information providers, including NLM, DOE, DTIC, NASA, NAL, NTIS and other executive branch agencies. We are the first legislative branch agency to join CENDI. GPO is also participating in the National Digital Information Infrastructure Program (NDIIP) of the Library of Congress and expects to be part of the OMB interagency e-government committee.


We have developed a proposed reorganization within the Superintendent of Documents staff. Bruce James has gone through a process of consultation with the senior managers. The organization chart for the new GPO structure is in the packet provided to each attendee. We have done a similar process within the Documents organization and are completing a proposal for a structure that is arranged in functional areas. There is a policy and planning group, which will focus (as the name implies) on the policies, procedures, collection development plans, and regulations for each program area. There are three main program areas: the Federal Depository Library Program, the Catalog of Government Publications, which we are now calling the National Bibliography, and cost recovery programs, such as the sales and reimbursable programs. Library and customer services is another area, which will include responsibilities such as a central contact center for user support and order processing; account records management; market and market research; and education and training. The operations areas will include an expanded acquisitions and agency outreach staff; cataloging and bibliographic control; and collection management for GPO Access, the electronic archive and the re-established tangible collection; as well as storage and distribution functions. There will continue to be a support group for financial, administrative and other cross-cutting functions. This will align our staff to reduce duplicative efforts and provide better service to our library partners and our other customers. It will allow us to focus more attention on establishing a comprehensive national bibliography as required by the statute as well as building a more comprehensive collection of tangible and electronic documents. The integrated library system is an essential tool that will make it possible for the first time to expand the current Catalog of Government Publications by incorporating bibliographic records from other agencies.

These changes will result in new positions and promotional opportunities for current staff and we hope that many of you will consider applying for positions at GPO and coming to help us improve our current services and prepare for the future. All of the new positions will be posted on FDLP-L as they are created.


In closing, I want to encourage each of you to work with one another and GPO to determine the mix of services that GPO must offer in the future to make it worthwhile for libraries to participate in the FDLP. It is particularly important to identify services that can be offered exclusively to depository libraries, so there are some substantial, tangible benefits to participation when all or virtually all of the material can be obtained free from the Internet without the obligations of being a depository library. In addition, we must all find ways to deal with the burdens of the large historical collections. We must consider setting up shared facilities into which collections can be de-duplicated, digitization projects, retrospective cataloging, and other means to better mange the retrospective materials. This is a great challenge, but we can do this together and make sure that this program is as strong in the next hundred years as it has been for the past two hundred years.