Collection Development and Status Statement: Government Documents and Information

Description of the Collection

Based on the provisions of the 1962 Depository Library Act (P.L. 87-579, 76 Stat. 352), and Title 44, Section 19 (P.L. 90-620, 82 Stat. 1283), Central Library is a part of the Federal Depository Library program as a selective depository, along with 20 other libraries in the state.

Vanderbilt was designated as a “depository for public documents” in the spring of 1884. It was further designated as a depository for United Nations publications in 1946, one of the first so designated.

All told, the government documents collections at Vanderbilt number over 900,000 publications.

Within constraints of budget, staffing, space, and technical support capacity, government documents staff at Vanderbilt will acquire, organize, preserve, and make available to the public and to the university community:

  • international, U.S. national, and U.S. subnational publications, both through depository programs and by purchase;
  • reference materials that provide both bibliographic and content access to those publications;
  • the equipment necessary to give optimum access to materials in the collections

Specifically, Vanderbilt acquires publications from these types of governments or international agencies:

  • International
  • Other nations
  • National
  • State and local

Depository materials have been and are received in various formats: paper, microfilm, microfiche, microprint, and electronic. Non-depository and commercially prepared reference tools are acquired in the same formats. Government documents staff receive monographs, periodicals and other serials, maps, and pamphlets in any format. When faced with the option of paper format, microformat, or electronic for a publication, staff generally select paper format if the publication falls within our subregional or Center for Excellence collection responsibilities, if we expect high use of the publication, or if the publication has statistics relevant to our collection or our region. However, this policy is in the process of being transitioned to favor digital, in accordance with our subregional requirements and in reliance upon the FDLP's recently instituted (in 2023) plans for an all-digital depository program.

Vanderbilt is a signatory to a longstanding agreement with the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) to be part of its Collaborative Federal Depository Program (CFDP), which will eventually complete a shared collection among the ten ASERL states’ selective depository libraries for comprehensive coverage of government information from each federal agency. The complete program will have two Centers of Excellence (COEs) for each agency to ensure redundancy. The charges of participating COEs include:

§    actively replace damaged or lost pieces,

§    seek to fill holes in their collections, as necessary, via Needs and Offers lists

§    provide active preservation for the collection

§    catalog pieces that they own on OCLC and identify them as the archival copy

§    participate in GPO’s program to set holdings on OCLC for Regionals free of charge, if eligible

§    participate in the ASERL union catalog (Kudzu) and ILL/Document Delivery agreements

Vanderbilt acquires:

  • As a United Nations depository: all major publications of the United Nations, including all publications received as part of depository membership under the Print Plus arrangement. These are classified by U.N. Series symbol number and housed in the Unit.
  • Statistical publications from other international organizations, including major statistical yearbooks in paper format and, since 1985, all other statistical publications on microfiche that are distributed through the Index to International Statistics (IIS) microfiche collection. The paper versions have Library of Congress classification numbers. The latest edition is housed in the Annex, as are earlier editions. Microfiche versions are arranged by IIS number and housed in the Annex.

Vanderbilt acquires:

  • Statistical yearbooks from other countries, supplemented by ProQuest’s Current National Statistical Compendium microfiche. The paper versions are arranged by Library of Congress classification; the microfiche by their own classification. 
  • British Parliamentary papers on microfiche, including command papers and sessional papers. These have their own arrangement.

Vanderbilt acquires:

  • As a member of the Federal Depository Library System, a substantial but selective collection of US government information, in paper, microform, compact disc, and electronically. The tangible materials are arranged by SuDocs number and housed at the Annex.
  • Non-depository microfiche available through the American Statistical Index (ASI) non-depository microfiche collection. These are arranged by ASI number and are housed at the Annex.
  • Additional historical non-depository publications, including Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) publications, obtained through membership in the former Library of Congress Documents Expediting Project (DocEx), which was discontinued in 2004. Most of these are arranged by SuDocs number and are housed at the Annex.

The unit acquires:

  • Major statistical yearbooks issued by agencies of the state of Tennessee. These are arranged by Library of Congress classification number. Most back volumes are housed at the Annex.
  • Statistical abstracts and blue books from selected regional and other states. These are arranged by Library of Congress classification number.
  • A small number of publications from Metropolitan Nashville/Davidson County. These are arranged by Library of Congress classification number.