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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)

Responses to Recommendations

Depository Library Council Meeting
Fall 2002, Arlington, VA


1. PURL Statistics

The Depository Library Council recommends the Government Printing Office develop statistical reports of PURL referrals to enable libraries to determine how often documents within the Federal Depository Library Program Electronic Collection are being accessed through library catalogs and Web pages. In addition, the Government Printing Office should examine the response time of the PURL server to ensure access to resources within a reasonable time frame.

Rationale: Currently the Government Printing Office (GPO) provides URL referral statistics for depository libraries. In addition, PURL statistical reports will allow librarians to monitor the effectiveness of the access provided to online government publications through depository library catalogs and Web pages.

Response: Staff from the Office of Electronic Information Dissemination Services (EIDS) have investigated the server log files and have determined that such statistical information can be gathered. However, individual depositories need to provide more information on the actual sites from which the referrals are received before the data can be related back to specific institutions. EIDS and the Library Programs Service (LPS) have developed a mechanism as part of the Directory update page on the FDLP Desktop <http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fdlp/tools/ldirect.html#2> by which libraries may inform GPO of their desire to receive these statistics and provide the necessary information. GPO will then be able to create a PURL referral report similar to the URL referral report for depository libraries available on the Federal Bulletin Board at <http://fedbbs.access.gpo.gov/referral.htm>. Once completed, the PURL referral report will be available at the same location and will be updated on a monthly basis.

2. WAIS Migration

The Depository Library Council recommends the Government Printing Office migrate the WAIS databases to more current search engine technology as soon as possible.

Rationale: GPO has been exploring the purchase of new search engine technology for several years. Due to the severe limitations of WAIS technology, it is imperative that GPO Access migrate to a new XML-based technology. Advantages inherent in newer database architectures will also improve products through more advanced interfaces with the Integrated Library System being acquired by GPO.

Response: Work continues toward procuring a new platform to replace the WAIS search and retrieval software for GPO Access in order to improve system performance and enhance customer usability. Staff members from SuDocs and Production Services are working closely on developing a detailed Statement of Work (SOW) that will allow GPO to select the most effective platform for GPO Access. The SOW will outline both the customer functionality and the technical requirements needed to move forward with the procurement and implementation of the next generation of software in FY 2004. The SOW will also include a requirement to migrate all WAIS databases on GPO Access to the new platform simultaneously to ensure continuity throughout the site. This will eliminate any issues with inconsistent database structure that affect searchability, such as the lack of page number references in the History of Bills databases prior to 1993.

3. Regional Library Conference

The Depository Library Council recommends that GPO request funding to sponsor a multi-day Regional Library Conference.

Rationale: The August 1997 Regionals Conference in Minnesota was extremely successful in providing all 53 regional depositories and all states the opportunity to discuss and assess the services, responsibilities, and problems that are unique to Regionals, as well as identify areas for service to selective depositories. The meeting would allow an opportunity for GPO staff to consult with the Regionals, train them in Government Printing Office policies and procedures and discuss services that Regionals should provide to selective depositories.

Response: LPS staff met with Council members John Phillips and Dan Barkley and Council Chair Cathy Hartman during the ALA Midwinter Meeting to begin discussions and planning for a Regionals Conference. Various agendas and themes were discussed, and Phillips and Barkley will bring back a more specific proposal to GPO after consultation with other Regional librarians.

4. Communication with Administrators

The Depository Library Council recommends that GPO communicate the importance and benefits of the Federal Depository Library Program to key groups of library administrators, preferably at their association meetings (e.g., Association of Research Libraries, Public Library Association, American Library Association, Association of College and Research Libraries, and state library associations, etc.).

Rationale: The Depository Library Council recognizes the need for communication from GPO to directors at depository libraries in order to reinforce the importance of the program, to inform directors of current issues facing depositories, and to form a basis of discussion between depository librarians and their administrators. The proposed communications would assist in building awareness and support at higher levels and would hopefully interest library directors in joining the program. A special presentation on the Federal Depository Library Program held at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in 1995 was very successful and attracted 150 attendees. A similar successful meeting, sponsored by the regional library, was held on the state level in Georgia in 2001.

Response: Robin Haun-Mohamed has contacted the ALA GODORT Program Committee with a request to organize a meeting for directors of depository libraries at the ALA Annual Meeting in Orlando in June 2004. The request was favorably received, and LPS staff will continue to work with the Program Committee.

Every depository library director received a letter of invitation to attend the spring 2003 Council meeting and to participate in planning for the future of the FDLP. In addition, the Superintendent of Documents will address Association of Research Libraries directors at the ARL meeting in Kentucky in mid-May. GPO is also interested in communicating with directors at other meetings, and asks that the depository community make suggestions for or facilitate invitations to appropriate events.

Effective communication with depository directors depends in part on GPO having accurate and up to date information about directors. All depository libraries are urged to update their directory information on the FDLP Desktop using the application at <http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fdlp/tools/ldirect.html#2>.

5. Guidelines for Regionals

The Depository Library Council recommends that GPO review and develop expanded guidelines to assist regional depositories in working with depository libraries that may be considering withdrawing from the Federal Depository Library Program. Guidelines for the Regional might include:

Instructions requiring the withdrawing library to notify its Regional and GPO of its intent to withdraw six to twelve months before the intended date of withdrawal;

  • Notification to the withdrawing library of the procedures it must follow with respect to:

What the library can retain versus what it must or will surrender;

What the library must provide for public access during the withdrawal process;

  • Announcement to other libraries within that Congressional district of its intent to withdraw;
  • Communication by the Regional with the withdrawing library's Congressional delegation;

Informing the delegation of the library's intent to withdraw;

Informing the delegation of their ability to appoint a library to fill that vacancy;

  • Establishment of a time frame that the library must follow in the disposition of the withdrawing library's materials.

Rationale: Currently the communication process between the Regional and the withdrawing library remains unclear. Better communication involving all parties may encourage the library to reconsider its decision. Refining the process will also enhance the redistribution of depository materials to other interested Federal depository libraries.

Response: Development of uniform practices to be followed by Regionals when selective depositories announce an intention to leave the program was discussed in a meeting at ALA Midwinter between LPS staff and John Phillips, Cathy Hartman, and Dan Barkley. Some preliminary work and discussion has taken place at GPO, and a full discussion will be one of the main agenda items at the Regional Libraries session at the Depository Library Conference in October 2003.

6. Historic Document Preservation

The Depository Library Council recommends that GPO, in cooperation with other library preservation organizations, begin to identify historic documents and investigate means for depository libraries to preserve them.

Rationale: Many depositories housing historical collections are witnessing a rapid deterioration of these valuable collections. Council shares the depository community's concerns and urges work with such organizations to develop and implement guidelines that will assist libraries in preserving and archiving these collections.

Response: The recommendation specifies two steps: identification of historic documents and guidelines to preserve them. Identification of documents considered "historic" or "valuable" is very much a matter of local concern for individual depository libraries. From a program-wide standpoint, what is needed is support and coordination for preservation planning. GPO is also interested in the digitization of historic documents to enhance public access to the content without further degrading the paper copies.

GPO proposes that one or more large depositories with the potential for rich historical holdings seek a National Endowment for the Humanities Preservation Assistance Grant to conduct a general preservation assessment as a kind of pilot project for the FDLP. Ideally, the library should engage a preservation consultant to assess the collection and conditions and help draft a long-range plan for preservation. GPO will be an active partner in the grant application or administration, and will coordinate the dissemination of findings to other libraries in the FDLP who face the same challenges. Information on the grant program is available at: <http://www.neh.gov/grants/guidelines/pag.html>.

When an assessment is complete we will be able to develop uniform guidelines and practices for tangible document preservation that will be of benefit across the program.

7. GPO-Hosted Web Sites

The Depository Library Council recommends that GPO provide guidance to Federal government agencies on the organization of content on GPO-hosted Web sites. Examples of such guidance may include the GPO Access Web design guidelines, Web site templates, or examples of best practices at existing government Web sites.

Rationale: A careful analysis of the organization of GPO-hosted Web sites shows that many agencies fail to provide direct access to discrete government information titles. The lack of clear and consistent organization may make it difficult for the public to locate desired information at these Web sites, and it is difficult to provide bibliographic access or create PURLs for multipart titles. GPO typically provides guidance to government agencies on the layout and organization of printed publications. Providing guidance for the organization of Web site content is a natural extension of this activity in the electronic environment.

Response: EIDS is currently working with other areas of GPO to finalize the GPO Access Web Design Guidelines. These guidelines are expected to prove beneficial for internal staff working on GPO Access, and also serve as guidance to other Federal agencies whose web sites are hosted on GPO Access. We plan to make these guidelines available as a model to other agencies as part of the range of business services provided by GPO.

In addition, the new guidelines contain the following statement, which will provide guidance for hosted sites:

Even though the Web Committee has no authority over the design and development of hosted Web pages, based on its expertise and experience, the Web Committee may suggest to the funding party certain elements of Web design and structure that promote the accessibility and usability of those pages.

8. Benefits of Being a Depository

The Depository Library Council recommends that GPO distribute to the depository community the following items provided by Council:

"List of Benefits of Being a Federal Depository Library"

"Testimonials from Depository Librarians"

"Suggested Responses to Frequently Cited Reasons for Leaving the Depository Library System"

Council also recommends that GPO begin integrating this information into the Depository Library Program documentation.

Rationale: Recognizing the increasing number of departures from the Federal Depository Library Program, GPO requested assistance with compiling a list of benefits of remaining a depository library.

Response: The three documents described in the recommendation have been received. The Depository Services Staff is currently reviewing and formatting them for dissemination on the FDLP Desktop.

In addition, three programs are offered on this topic at the April 2003 Depository Library Council meeting, between 10:30 a.m. and noon on Tuesday, April 8.


The Depository Library Council recommends that GPO require each depository to subscribe to the FDLP-L email announcement list, which was developed to convey official Federal Depository Library Program announcements.

Response: A notice explaining the FDLP-L list and recommending that all depositories subscribe was published in the November 15, 2002 issue of Administrative Notes, and disseminated on GOVDOC-L, DocTech-L, and FDLP-L. There are currently 1,339 subscribers to the list.

10. Anniversary Packets

The Depository Library Council recommends that GPO develop a packet of materials suitable for use by libraries celebrating anniversaries of their designations as depositories. This packet may include a certificate by GPO recognizing the library's longevity within the program and contributions thereto. The packet may also include a letter from GPO to the library director expressing appreciation for the library's past work, examples of newspaper articles that mention not only the library's anniversary but also the importance of the Federal Depository Library Program, a list of suggested celebratory activities, and sample texts of press releases and radio spots.

Rationale: Several Federal depository libraries will be celebrating centennial and other significant anniversaries in the next several years. Currently there is no such packet of materials and this would be an invaluable resource for libraries wishing to raise the level of awareness of the role of the Federal Depository Library Program in their local communities.

Response: The packets are under development. Until completed, the Depository Services Staff is still able to supply certificates and other commemorative materials in response to individual requests. Depository staff should contact Robin Haun-Mohamed for commemorative materials.