Collection Development Statement: Government Documents and Information

Selection Policy

Depository staff provide public access to government information by selecting classes of government publications that are tailored to local needs and by acquiring the appropriate finding aids, and for digital publications, the latest appropriate hardware and software.

This policy will be subject to revision and adjustment as the needs and circumstances of the library change but, in any case, in accordance with the Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Program.

Government documents staff have responsibility to select classes of government publications that will meet the needs of the general public and the Vanderbilt community.

Recommendations are considered from the general public, library staff, and Vanderbilt faculty and students. Central Library currently selects at 48%, which is a reduction of about 8% since the last major revision of this statement in 1994.

Unit staff will use the above guidelines to select item numbers that meet one of these criteria:

  • Current or potential information needs of the people in the university and local community
  • Undergraduate, graduate, and professional school research need
  • Faculty research need
  • Requests from patrons
  • Demonstrated use of similar publications, as indicated by reference questions, circulation, in-house use, and interlibrary loan requests, or potential frequency of use
  • Compatibility with the totality of the library's collection
  • Degree of technicality
  • Amount of shelf space required to house the material

At the current time, items described as “catch-all classes,” highly technical, or consuming an unusually large volume of paper are selected only when they represent a major contribution to the academic program or the community that could not be met with individual requests for loans from the regional depository.

Some government publications are intended to be sold on a self-sustaining basis and they are not available as depository copies. Staff will request that such publications be purchased with general collection development funds as needed. 

Staff acquire commercially-reproduced copies of federal government publications and archival records on a limited basis. Examples of major purchases in this category are the American Statistical Index (ASI) non-depository microfiche collection and retrospective Congressional hearings, reports, and documents in microformat. Examples of purchases for non-U.S. publications include the Index to International Statistics (IIS) microfiche collection; the Current National Statistical Compendium microfiche; and the British Parliamentary papers.

Staff acquire commercially-produced indexes, abstracts, bibliographies, and directories useful in the identification and use of federal government publications and records. Examples include the Index to Publications of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service and CIS Index to U.S. Executive Branch Documents, 1789-1909.

Staff will acquire non-print replacements for paper copy based on these factors: available funding, the fragility of print publications owned by the Library , the completeness of the Library's print holdings and the possibility of filling gaps, the number of potential users, the current unavailability of the item in print format, and the presence of non-text material contained in the original, such as photographs, tables, line charts , and maps that might not reproduce well in the non-print format.