What is the FDLP?
Brief History of the Federal Depository Library Program
The Federal Depository Library Program began in the early part of the 19th century, but looked nothing like the program of over 1,250 participating libraries we have today. In 1813 Congress first authorized legislation to ensure one copy of both the House and the Senate Journals and other Congressional documents were distributed to certain universities, historical societies, state libraries, etc. Distribution of publications was under the Secretary of State at this time. The original system was haphazard at best and was the status quo until 1857.
In 1857, some real changes in the depository system began. That year, the Secretary of the Interior began to oversee government printing and the designation of depositories. The next year, in 1858, Congress enabled each representative to designate a depository in his/her district or territory, and to this day there is at least one Federal Depository Library in each U.S. congressional district. The next year, Congress allowed for each Senator to designate a depository in his/her state.
In 1860, The Government Printing Office (GPO) was established and it is the GPO which still continues to distribute federal publications to depository libraries. GPO's legal authority is guaranteed in Title 44 of the United States Code and set its mission to "keep america informed" by providing government documents to libraries for access by the public. Title 44 laid the foundation of the Federal Depository Library Program, but more changes to the FDLP were still to come.
The head of GPO, the Public Printer, became a presidential appointed position, subject to Senate confirmation, in 1876. The current Public Printer is Robert C. Tapella, appointed by President Bush in 2007. At this time, President Obama has yet to nominate a Public Printer. In 1895 authority for the depository program was transferred from the Secretary of the Interior to the Office of the Superintendent of Documents. The Superintendent of Documents is appointed by and reports to the Public Printer. The current acting Superintendent of Documents is Richard G. Davis. By this point the current structures of the Federal Depository Library Program were in place.
Selective and Regional Libraries
Prior to 1922, every depository library had to receive every publication from the United States Government. Changes to Title 44 in 1922 allowed libraries to become a "selective depository," where the library does not need to receive everything published by the United States; instead the library can "select" the publications they want. The UC Berkeley Library is a selective depository library and currently selects over 80% of the available publications. UC Berkeley is not the only selective depository in the San Francisco Bay Area; there are selective depository libraries from Santa Cruz to Santa Rosa as illustrated by this map. To find other depository libraries, visit the Depository Library Directory.
Other changes brought regions and regional depository libraries. For the FDLP, the United States is divided into regions, mostly by state, and each region has a regional depository libary. Regional depository libraries receive every publication from the United States and provide a variety of services to the selective depository libraries in their region, such as lending publications. In California, our regional depository library is the California State Library in Sacramento.
In 1993, the Government Printing Office Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act of 1993 allowed for the creation of GPO Access, one of the first government information databases. Beginning with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996, the United States has been moving to a more electronic Federal Depository Library Program. With the rise of the internet, distribution of tangible publications (paper, microfiche, CD) has decreased as many agencies and departments now publish on the web. Whereas before one had to visit a federal depository library to access government information, anyone with access to the internet from anywhere in the world can access contemporary U.S. government information. GPO created a free online catalog of official U.S. government documents from 1976 to present. GPO has also been moving the FDLP further into the 21st century with the release of the Federal Digital System (FDSys). After several years of development, FDSys is now in beta release and contains many Congressional Publications. As funding is provided to GPO, FDSys will grow into a more robust database.
Recently GPO created a short public service video on its mission to keep America informed by providing documents to libraries across the country through the Federal Depository Library Program.
U.S. Government Printing Office: Working with Libraries
For more information on GPO and the FDLP, please visit the following links:
GPO Website: http://www.gpo.gov/
History of GPO: http://www.gpo.gov/su_docs/fdlp/history/macgilvray.html
GPO Factsheet, which includes a video on GPO's history: http://www.gpo.gov/factsheet/index.html
Federal Depository Library Program Desktop: http://www.fdlp.gov/
UC Berkeley Government Information Unit: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/doemoff/govinfo/