Collection Development Policy

The mission of the Sarah Lawrence College Library Government Documents Program is to provide free access to federal government publications for the College faculty, students, and staff as well as for the residents of the 18th U.S. Congressional District in Westchester County, New York, particularly those residing in the village of Bronxville and the nearby city of Yonkers.

The Esther Raushenbush Library was selected as a House-designated Depository (#0415-A) of United States government information in May,1969. Currently 1826 items are chosen from the 10,143 available, representing a selection rate of 18%. Areas of emphasis in the collection include: census statistics, health, education, labor, foreign affairs, women’s studies, CIA and Dept. of Agriculture maps, and Congressional hearings.

The program is directed by the Documents Coordinator who is a professional qualified librarian selected by the Library Director.

The government documents collection profile is reviewed annually and the Documents Coordinator examines all available items on a rotating basis. English is the primary language of the collection.

Most of the collection is housed separately on the lower level of the Library in paper and in microfiche arranged by the Superintendent of Documents Classification system; the remainder has been integrated into the general circulating, periodical and reference collections. All the Library’s government documents in paper are represented in the catalog, and the circulating resources are shared on local, state, regional and national levels through membership in OCLC’s ILL network.

Although the Library prefers to collect electronic publications, appropriate selection is made regardless of format. Readers and printers for microfiche documents are available and hardware/software capable of providing access to on-line files and databases are on the premises and available to visitors from the communities outside the College campus.

Access to all government collections is open to the public during most hours of library operation (M-Th, 8:30 AM-8:30 PM; Sat, 11 AM-8:30 PM and Sun, 11 AM-8:30 PM), although the public is encouraged to use the collection when professional staff members are present. The govdoc stacks and microfiche collections are located on the lower level which is accessible by stairs and elevator service.

When a library patron who is not a member of the College community needs access to a Depository document not held in our collection, he/she will be referred to the Documents Coordinator for advice about identification, citation verification, and location, and an interlibrary loan for any items in our collection can be arranged through a patrons’ public library.

Maintenance of the collection is performed in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the Government Printing Office as describe in the Federal Depository Library Manual:

  • “Piece-level” records are kept for all current depository receipts and there is an active program for retrospective cataloging and weeding.
  • Superseded documents are discarded at the appropriate time; however, historically important documents, particularly in the areas of the census, labor and women’s studies are retained permanently
  • An effort is made to replace missing documents, particularly those housed in the Reference Collection.
  • Government issued periodicals are regularly selected for binding.

This policy was adopted by the Library in Spring, 2000, updated in 2017, and is regularly reviewed as necessary.

Contributed by Janet H. Alexander, Associate Director of the Library and Documents Coordinator, 1997-