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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 )

April 15, 2004

GP 3.16/3-2:25/05
(Vol. 25, no. 05)

Fugitive Documents Week
Nets 222 New Titles

"Help catch a fugitive from justice!" was the cry from March 29 April 2, 2004, proclaimed as the first annual Fugitive Documents Week by the Fugitive & Electronic-Only Documents Committee of the American Association of Law Libraries Government Documents Special Interest Section (AALL GDSIS). During the week, librarians and other interested parties were encouraged to find and report fugitive documents to GPO so they could be classified, cataloged, included in the National Bibliography, and disseminated through the Federal Depository Library Program, resulting in 222 new titles. Susan Lyons (Rutgers Law Library) and Scott Matheson (Yale Law School Library) coordinated this effort for the Committee.


Fugitive documents are defined as those documents of public interest or educational value, not classified for reasons of national security, which have not been acquired for distribution to Federal depository libraries or brought under bibliographic control through the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

Because of the nature of the problem, it is difficult to determine exactly how many fugitive documents there are. An estimate of 50% is often cited in the documents literature. There are recent indications that this may be a conservative estimate. A 1998 Inspector General review of the National Institute of Health's (NIH) compliance with Title 44 depository requirements found that 78% of their applicable titles were not provided to the Superintendent of Documents for dissemination. In January 2000, a former director of the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) stated that there were as many as "50,000 gray literature NTIS titles" that were fugitive from the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).

AALL GDSIS has been active in assisting GPO with identifying fugitive documents for several years. Their work dovetailed nicely with the Electronic Documents Working Group, which originated with the Depository Library Council. Together, these groups have identified fugitives and suggested classification numbers and distribution formats consistent with our guidelines. GPO appreciates the effort and thought that each volunteer puts into this process.

Reporting Process

On March 15, 2004, a message was cross-posted to the GD-SIS, LAWLIB, and GOVDOC-L electronic discussion lists, inviting people to participate in the first Fugitive Documents Week in two weeks' time. Participants were asked to notify GPO, through the lostdocs form on the FDLP Desktop, of any Federal publications they came across that were not found in the Monthly Catalog print edition, the online Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), or in OCLC's WorldCat.

Statistics & Data Analysis

During Fugitive Documents Week GPO received 134 submissions to lostdocs originating from 18 different e-mail addresses. As shown in Table 1, GPO received 45 e-mails on Monday, the highest daily total for the week. This was followed by Wednesday with 39, Thursday with 36 and Tuesday with 12. Friday was the slowest day, with only 2 submissions.

3/29 4/2, 2004







E-mail Submissions to lostdocs@gpo.gov







Table 1: Submissions to lostdocs, 3/29 - 4/2, 2004

This promotional effort generated 857% more submissions to lostdocs in one week than were received for an average week so far in fiscal year 2004. Compared to the average number of submissions per week since the inception of lostdocs in April 2002, this represents a 436% increase. While there were 134 submissions during the week, many more fugitive documents were identified. Several e-mails referred to Web pages listing numerous documents that were not classified or cataloged by GPO, adding up to a total of 222 fugitive publications identified during the week.

E-mail Submissions to lostdocs@gpo.gov

FY 2002

April Sept.

FY 2003

Oct. Sept.

FY 2004

Oct. Feb.

Total number




Average # per month




Table 2: Submissions to lostdocs during fiscal year reporting

From the 134 submissions, the following agencies were identified as having fugitive titles that need to be "brought into custody":

  • Administrative Office of the Courts
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
    • Bureau of the Census
    • National Institute of Standards and Technology
    • National Marine Fisheries
  • Department of Defense
    • Army. Command and General Staff College
    • Marine Corps. History and Museums Division
    • Navy. Naval Historical Center
    • Coalition Provisional Authority
  • Department of Education
    • National Center for Education Statistics
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
    • Center for Disease Control
    • National Institutes of Health
  • Department of Homeland Security
    • Federal Emergency Management Agency
    • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    • U.S. Coast Guard
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Department of the Interior
    • United States Geological Survey
  • Department of Justice
    • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
    • Bureau of Justice Statistics
    • Executive Office of Immigration Review
    • National Criminal Justice Reference Service
  • Department of Transportation
    • Federal Aviation Administration
    • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Department of the Treasury
    • Internal Revenue Service
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Executive Office of the President
    • Office of National Drug Control Policy
  • General Accounting Office
  • Merit Systems Protection Board


A crucial factor in handling fugitive documents is awareness. Efforts such as Fugitive Documents Week heighten awareness of the issue while at the same time functioning as tools to assist GPO in adding fugitive publications to the National Bibliography and disseminating them to depository libraries. During the 1st Annual Fugitive Documents Week, GPO received 134 e-mail submissions that in combination identified 222 documents from almost 30 agencies, now being worked through by the classifiers and catalogers. GPO looks forward to working with AALL GDSIS on future efforts to identify and acquire fugitive documents and make that information permanently accessible to the public.

For More Information

Fugitive Documents Week Web site:


AALL. Government Documents Special Interest Section. Fugitive & Electronic-Only Documents Committee.


Electronic Documents Working Group: A GPO Depository Community Project