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Reserves and Media Services/Government Information: Government Information Collections

Federal Depository Library Program

The United States Government is the largest publisher in the world. Every day the federal government issues congressional bills, laws, regulations, presidential documents, studies, and countless other documents on a variety of topics. The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) was established by Congress to ensure that the American public has access to government information. The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) is administered by the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO).

Since 1813, select U.S. government documents have been made available throughout the United States and its territories to designated libraries. These designated libraries are called federal depository libraries. A directory of those libraries can be found here

As members of the FDLP, depository libraries play a prominent role in providing federal government information to the public. FDLP libraries collaborate on a local and national level to provide informed access to both historical and current federal government resources distributed through the FDLP and deposited in libraries across the country.

Anyone can visit federal depository libraries and use the federal depository collections. 

The authority for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) and the legal obligations of designated federal depository libraries are found in 44 United States Code §§1901‐1916.


Vanderbilt's Central Library has been a selective depository for federal government publications since 1884, a United Nations depository since 1946, and a Food and Agriculture Depository since 1948. As of 2016, the Central depository selects about 49% of the nearly 6000 categories offered by the US Government Printing Office. The depository is home to approximately 900,000 paper, microfiche and CD-ROM holdings.

Other government information is available at selected Vanderbilt libraries. The Alyne Queener Massey Law Library was designated as a selective federal depository library in 1976. The Stevenson Science and Engineering Library has been a Patent and Trademark depository since 1988.

Access to Government Information

The mission of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) is to assure free and unimpeded public access to information published by the United States government. This includes all government information products, regardless of format or medium, which are of public interest or educational value, except for those products which are for strictly administrative or operational purposes, classified for reasons of national security, or the use of which is constrained by privacy considerations.

The public is welcome to use the federal depository collection without charge. The Vanderbilt Libraries and GIMS have a longstanding commitment to public access to information created by or for the federal government. 

During hours restricted to authorized card holders, patrons without card privileges wanting to use the depository can gain access by informing library staff they wish to use the library's depository resources. For questions about access to government information, please ask a library staff member.