There is a strong chance you have never heard of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). The program was established by Congress to ensure the public has access to government information. How can the public get access to government information? Google? Social media? Yes, you can obtain a great deal of information online, including the Federal Digital System (FDsys), but the federal government has been publishing content since the 18th century. Not everything is online (what???). The answer to the question is through federal depository libraries.
The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) through FDLP distributes certain classes of government documents, free of cost, to designated libraries throughout the United States and its territories. These libraries are known as federal depository libraries. The Indiana State Library participates in FDLP as the regional depository library for our state. The library collects every publication published by the U.S. government. There are 32 libraries in Indiana that participate in the program. All but one are termed selective libraries, meaning they select certain material based on the needs of their patrons. Only the Indiana State Library collects all U.S. government publications.
The Indiana State Library’s collection of federal documents dates from 1789. The library began collecting federal documents since it opened in 1825, and the collection has been growing ever since. The Indiana State Library was officially designated as a state regional depository for federal government publications in 1963. The Indiana State Library has one of the largest printed collections of U.S. government publications in the country. The library is fortunate to be able to store this wonderful and historic collection in a temperature and climate controlled vault, ensuring their best possible preservation conditions.
While the library stores the collection away from public eye, that does not mean you cannot access and view the material. Federal depository libraries must offer free, public access to their federal collections, even if the depository library is part of a private academic institution. The purpose of the program is to ensure that you, John Q Public, can access government information freely and easily. The Indiana State Library maintains a directory of all the participating federal depository libraries. If you have any questions about FDLP or U.S. government information, please feel free to contact Brent Abercrombie, the Regional Coordinator of Indiana.
This blog post was written by Indiana State Library Federal Documents Coordinator Brent Abercrombie. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.