Skip to Main Content

Collection Development Policies for the USA University Libraries: Government Documents


The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) is outlined in Chapter 19 of Title 44 of the U. S. Code and is administered by the U. S. Government Printing Office (GPO).

Statement of Purpose:  “Objectives of the Depository Library System”

“The purpose of depository libraries is to make U.S. Government publications easily accessible to the general public and to insure their continued availability in the future.  The purpose shall be achieved by a system of cooperation wherein depository libraries will receive free Federal public documents in return for making them accessible to the general public in their areas.”  
(Guidelines for the Depository Library System, Depository Library Council to the Public Printer, revised 1993)

The Marx Library has been a selective depository library since 1968.  The amount chosen from the selection profile for inclusion into our collection has fluctuated over the years.  Marx Library currently selects approximately 65-70% of the materials distributed through the FDLP, with the majority of these items in electronic/digital format.  Item selections are amended through annual updates:  new item numbers are selected and outdated ones are deleted.  All items from the “Suggested Core Collection” for Academic Libraries and “Basic Collection” of the Federal Depository Library Program are currently selected.  Materials received are arranged by the Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) Classification System.

Once received, the Library is obligated to keep selected materials for five years.  Exceptions to this retention period are outlined in the Superseded List as updated by GPO.  After the five-year period, the Depository Librarian determines whether to retain items for historical/research needs or withdraw them through normal weeding procedures.  Materials removed from the collection through the withdrawal process, will be offered to other libraries in accordance with the exchange policies of the FDLP, and as regulated by the 2 state regional libraries:  University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) and Auburn University at Montgomery.  Since Jan. 2013, the Alabama depository libraries are using the ASERL Documents Disposition Database for the withdrawal program.

Decisions on whether replacing depository materials, identified as missing or lost, will be made based on the availability, price or public demand for the material.  Non-depository or fugitive government publications are acquired from sources outside the depository program, by going directly to the government agency.  A deposit account with the GPO Bookstore has been set up to facilitate the acquisition of materials.  In addition, non-governmental publications may be acquired to supplement the collection.  Commercially-produced indexes, abstracts, bibliographies, and directories useful in the identification and use of federal government publications are acquired for the LC-Class collection.

This policy was last revised: 12/13/2021

Clientele Served and General Collection Policy


Depository status prescribes that all inhabitants in the 1st U. S. Congressional District should be served by the U. S. Depository Collection at the USA Marx Library.  However, the students and faculty of the University are the primary users, with residents of the area as a secondary group.


Language Coverage
Materials that are received are primarily in English, although a few popular titles appear in translation, most often in Spanish.  Materials that are retained are primarily in English.

Chronological Emphasis
Emphasis is on current materials, although materials with historical merit are retained.  Retrospective materials may be selected or purchased to fill gaps in existing holdings or in response to specific requests.

Geographical Limitations
Emphasis is on the United States, Alabama, and surrounding states (Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi) and Gulf of Mexico states (Louisiana and Texas).

Material Formats
Paper format is preferred for heavily-used materials and those of general interest.  In the past when there was an option of choosing paper or microfiche, paper was generally selected for high use, while microfiche was selected for high volume materials. In 2008, the decision to deselect microfiche format for all congressional materials in lieu of electronic access was made. Certain selective congressional committee were switched to paper format in consideration for their potential higher use.  In 2018, the decision to deselect paper format for high-volume legal titles (CFR, Congressional Record, slip laws) was made, with reliance being placed on digital versions.  More and more titles and agencies are relying on digital format for their publishing, which is reflected in the overall reduction of tangible materials being received through the depository program.

Types of Materials

  1. The following types of materials are selected for most agencies:  annual reports, general publications, yearbooks, statistical publications, bibliographies, periodicals, significant monographic series, and bulletins.
  2. The following types of materials are selected on a limited basis depending on the issuing agency:  handbooks, manuals, guides, pamphlets, directories, maps, and posters.
  3. The following types of materials are generally not selected:  forms for internal government use, handbooks/manuals for administering Federal programs, and highly technical reports outside the scope of the curriculum of USA.


A report in tabular form is available.

Academic Program Information and Collection Levels

Subject Boundaries
The collection at the USA Marx Library is strong in census, congressional, education, government, labor, justice, military history, weather, marine sciences, geological sciences, health sciences, and international topics.  The collection is less strong in scientific and technical reports.  These boundaries reflect the programs at USA.

Programs Supported
Degree Programs: 
All degree programs in general.
Collection Support: The primary purpose of the collection is to support the basic research needs of undergraduate and graduate programs.  Faculty research is also supported with the emphasis on statistical data and historical materials.

Cooperative Agreements and Selection Tools


Formal Agreements
There are no selective-housing agreements between USA Marx Library (0007B) and other libraries.

Informal Agreements
There is no longer any current agreement between Marx Library and the Baugh Biomedical Library to house medical-related materials from the depository program at the Biomedical Library.  (No formal selective housing agreement is required since this is a simple location change within the University Libraries system.)

Area Resources
Other libraries within one-hour radius from University of South Alabama having depository status include:
Spring Hill College (0007) in Mobile, AL (15-18% selected)


Current Publications

  1. List of Classes of the U. S. Government Publications Available for Selection by Depository Libraries  (GP 3.24: )
  2.  “N&O:” from GOVDOC-L or DocTech-L (Gov. Docs Listservs)
  3.  Governmental Agencies Publication Web Pages
  4.  Annual “Notable Documents” column, Library Journal

Retrospective Publications

  1.  “N&O:” from GOVDOC-L or DocTech-L (Gov Docs Listservs)
  2. Governmental Agencies Publication Web Pages
  3. ASERL Discard Lists