Government Documents at Sarah Lawrence




Media Inquiries

The present day Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) was established by Congress in 1962 to insure that the American public has access to its Government information. The Government Printing Office (GPO) administers the FDLP on behalf of the participating libraries and the public, and makes sure that information from the Federal Government is disseminated to these nationwide libraries. There are approximately 1250 libraries in the program at the present time representing almost all congressional districts across the United States and its territories.

The breakdown of participation in the depository program is 50 percent general academic libraries (of which the Esther Raushenbush Library is one), 20 percent public libraries, and 11 percent academic law libraries. Other depositories are in community colleges, state and special libraries, and Federal and State court and agency libraries.

The United States Code, Title 44, outlines the role of public printing and documentation, and section 1903 specifically requires that all government publication of public interest and educational value, except those classified for national security, be made available to depository libraries.

The Esther Raushenbush Library was designated a selective depository of US government information in May 1969. Currently 1662 items are chosen from those available, and this reflects a selection rate of over 18 percent. Areas of emphasis include census statistics, health, education, labor, foreign affairs, women’s studies, and Congressional hearings. The collection is housed on the lower level of the main library and is arranged by the Superintendent of Documents Classification System, but more than 20 percent of items received through the program have been integrated into the library's general collections; generally, most of the items do circulate. The staff regularly creates displays promoting the program, most recently “Keeping America Informed—150 years of service to the nation”, a celebration of the GPO’s 150th anniversary.

Although the Library prefers to collect publications in electronic and print form, appropriate selection is made regardless of format (see our Collection Development Policy for more detail). Readers and printers for microfiche documents are available on the main floor, and computer workstations on site are capable of providing access to online files and databases, CD-ROMS, and to the Internet.  

The FDLP Basic Collection was developed in 1977 to identify the fundamental documents for inclusion in depository collections, and all depositories are expected to have these titles available for their patrons; therefore, access to these basic documents is highlighted in our catalog. In addition, our catalog also includes all the relevant entries from the FDLP Essential Titles, a list of items that the government considers important reference publications for libraries and the public.

FDsys, GPO’s Federal Digital system, is a content management system providing free online access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government. Through FDsys, you are able to search/browse for documents and publications and download them in multiple renditions or file formats—it acts as a repository, guaranteeing long-term preservation and access. At this time FDsys does not have an A-Z list of its online resources. Until then, you can use this page as a guide.

In addition to carrying out the duties of a selective Federal Depository, our Library is also involved in a program of retrospective cataloging in order to provide the College community and the public with a small, but comprehensive historical government documents collection.

Over the past year, the Library has created intriguing and eye-catching displays to promote the government document collection. The exhibits are on display just inside of the main entrance to the right.