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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 )

September 15, 2003

GP 3.16/3-2:24/11
(Vol. 24, no. 11)

Additions to the FDLP List of Essential Titles for Public Use in Paper Format

[Sent to GPO-FDLP-L and other discussion lists by Superintendent of Documents Judy Russell.]

The list of Essential Titles for Public Use in Paper Format, <http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fdlp/pubs/estitles.html>, includes approximately 50 titles which are to be distributed by the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) in paper as long as it is feasible to do so. The list was negotiated with great difficulty over a considerable period of time. As usually occurs with this type of negotiation, it is not entirely pleasing to anybody, but is the best we can do as a community if we can have only one Essential Titles list. I believe that the answer is to expand the list so that Federal depository libraries of various sizes and types can identify a few additional paper titles that should remain available to their libraries, whether or not they are essential titles for the entire community.

Many of you have heard me say, or have read remarks in which I have said, that I don't believe the core list of FDLP titles for selection by a small public library is (or should be) the same as that for an academic law library or a large research library. The same can be said with respect to the Essential Titles list. If the FDLP is to attract and retain libraries in the future, GPO must break out of the "one size fits all" mode of operation and customize its services to the unique needs of its partner libraries.

The Slip Opinions of the Supreme Court are the test case for this new way of doing business. In response to a resolution of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Executive Board, I have decided that paper Slip Opinions will be added to a supplemental Essential Titles list for selection only by law libraries and regional libraries. This option will not be extended to other depository libraries, even to law libraries that receive slip opinions under selective housing agreements, and no law library or regional library will be forced to accept the opinions in paper.

As I said, this is a test case. I am very conscious of the slippery slope. I cannot and will not re-open the issue of paper distribution of the Serial Set or the bound Congressional Record because it takes disproportionately large amounts of resources to provide these titles in paper beyond the distribution that has already been determined. GPO has to administer the program for the benefit of all participants and use the available resources for the optimum mix of products and services.

However, based on the decision on the Slip Opinions, I am offering a similar opportunity to other depository communities (such as small public libraries, large academic libraries, etc.) to discuss the Essential Titles list among themselves and recommend one or more titles that they, as a community, would like to add to a supplemental Essential Titles list, specifically to address the needs of their constituents. I am sure there are titles that are valuable to a significant subset of depository libraries that were dropped from the Essential Titles list in the negotiations because there was insufficient support from the full range of depository libraries. (This decision also paves the way for truly customized selection, which we hope to offer in the future, so that each depository library can eventually have its own Essential Titles list and utilize print on demand, among other options, to obtain in print titles that are essential to its own tangible collection.)

I have asked the Depository Library Council (DLC) to assign current or former members to assist in this process. The designated members will facilitate communication within groups of depository libraries based on size and type. This is not intended to be a rigid or cumbersome process, but rather a way to rapidly identify a few key titles on which there is broad consensus within a specific size and type of depository library.

Please understand that implementation will be difficult with the current legacy systems for management of item selection, so we will ask your patience with procedures that we may need to put in place to make this new way of doing business work in old, inflexible systems.

The coordinators that have been identified to date are as follows:

Law Libraries:

Small Academic Libraries:

Large Academic Libraries:

Small Public Libraries:

Large Public Libraries:

Federal Libraries:

State/Other Libraries:

GPO Coordinator

To facilitate this process, please go to <http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fdlp/tools/essential_titles_survey.html> and complete a short survey identifying a few titles that your library would like to have added to a supplemental Essential Titles list. This information will be routed to the coordinators for your size and type of library and will facilitate their efforts to identify titles that are important for your group. Please complete the survey NOT LATER THAN Friday, October 10, 2003.

You can also send an e-mail message to the coordinators for your type and size of library, so they will know that you wish to participate in this process. The coordinators will summarize the recommendations and communicate with the libraries in each group to try to turn the lists of suggestions into specific recommendations to GPO. There also will be an opportunity to discuss the recommendations during the breakout sessions at the Depository Conference in October.