Purpose, Program Description and General Selection Guidelines
The Columbia University Libraries (CUL) has been a depository for U.S. Federal documents since 1882. In 1922 CUL became a selective depository, generally receiving about 80% of item numbers from GPO. With the advent of online government documents in the 1990s, selection levels were reduced, and the current selection level is 57%. Pre-1976 documents are mostly located in Butler Library and are accessible via the Butler card catalog. Materials are received in many formats: paper, microfiche, CD-ROM, floppy disk, maps, video, and online. They include reference materials, monographs, periodicals and serials, manuals and handbooks, visual compilations, and databases. The materials are mostly in English, with a few titles also in Spanish or Braille.
Some of the material received on depository post-1976 was cataloged and routed to other departmental libraries. Items go to all CUL libraries, the major recipients being Business, Butler, Engineering, Geoscience, Health Sciences, and Lehman. In general, the other departments receive only selected paper titles. The majority of post-1976 depository materials was housed in Lehman Library until 2008, when all of the print items were relocated to ReCAP. Microfiche and CD-ROMs still remain in Lehman Library.
The 43% of available items not selected by DSC are categorized into three groups:
Agencies less extensively selected – Agriculture Dept., Patent and Trademark Office, National Weather Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Education Dept., Farm Credit Administration, General Services Administration, Judiciary, National Credit Union Administration, Railroad Retirement Board.
Types of publications not selected – Laws, Posters, Forms, Addresses, lectures, etc.
Publications which are also available online, especially if they are distributed otherwise only in microfiche.
We rely upon our regional (100%) depository, the New York State Library, in Albany, as a source for those items which we don’t select here. In practice, we will often send users to the New Jersey regional at the Newark Public Library. Additionally, we refer users to the New York Public Library for patent and trademark information.
The (accelerating) trend in recent has been the electronic dissemination of Federal publications. CD-ROM production has increased dramatically in the 1990s, then peaked and declines in the 2000s. With the establishment of GPO Access in August 1994 and its successor, FDsys, in 2009, the Government Printing Office has been committing more resources to distribution via the internet. Currently, there are about 50 collections of government information distributed via FDsys, with thousands more available directly from the issuing agency websites. This growth is sure to continue, and the very structure of the depository program may well change significantly in the future.