The Federal Depository Library Program in 2023 One Perspective by biu27071


									The Federal Depository Library
Program in 2023: One Perspective on
the Transition to the Future

Peter Hernon and Laura Saunders

        The Government Printing Office (GPO) administers a depository library
        program that provides the public with access to government publications,
        including digital ones. For years, the GPO, its Depository Library Coun-
        cil, and documents librarians have discussed the future role of member
        libraries. This article explores a different, but critical, perspective: that of
        directors of university libraries within the Association of Research Librar-
        ies. Thirty directors reviewed different scenarios and selected the one
        they envision their university assuming. The findings have implications for
        librarians in any depository library program and others interested in the
        future role of libraries as collection and service centers for government
        information resources.

           n an analysis of how the na-                 function and a few editors volun-
           tional government informs,                   tarily recorded the congressional
           communicates with, and shares                debate, thus relieving Congress of
           information with the Ameri-                  this duty.1
can citizenry, historian Culver H. Smith
writes:                                                  In addition to the role newspapers
                                                      played, there were other venues to pro-
   Beginning in 1789, the new govern-                 mote public access to news about what
   ment turned to newspapers to sup-                  the national government is doing and to
   ply some needed services. Selected                 information generated by it. Among these
   newspapers were employed by the                    were libraries, most of which became
   Department of State to publish the                 depository libraries.
   laws, orders, and resolutions of
   Congress. By this means the federal                Background
   government established contacts                    The depository library program, which
   with the citizenry in the growing                  the Government Printing Office (GPO), a
   nation… . In addition, certain Wash-               legislative agency, now administers, dates
   ington newspaper proprietors were                  from 1813, when Congress first authorized
   elected publishers for Congress to                 legislation to ensure that one copy of
   perform a large and responsible                    congressionally distributed publications

Peter Hernon is a Professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons Col-
lege, Boston; e-mail: Laura Saunders is Adjunct Faculty and Ph.D. student
at Simmons College; e-mail:

352 College & Research Libraries                                                July 2009

(the Serial Set) be provided to certain         ment information resources:4 print and
universities, historical societies, and state   digital publications, unpublished records,
libraries. Later, executive branch publi-       datasets, photographic and graphic im-
cations were distributed independent of         ages, interactive maps and games, vid-
the Serial Set. Legislation enacted toward      eos, simulations and animations, films,
the end of the nineteenth century as well       PowerPoint slide sets, and so on. Some
as in the twentieth century resulted in a       of these resources might be historical
marked increase in the number of member         and require the use of special software,
libraries. The 1962 Depository Library Act      which a government body might make
(76 Stat. 352) created regional depositories    available on its homepage. Additional
(libraries that, among other things, are        content is available through e-services
expected to develop comprehensive col-          such as e-mail alerts, blogs, podcasts,
lections) and selective depositories (able      RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds,
to determine item categories they want to       Webcasts, and wikis.
receive), and as a result of that public law       The GPO, which now considers the
the number of member libraries increased        Web as its primary means of disseminat-
more than two-fold. The prevailing view-        ing government publications, provides a
point reflected in the legislative history of   high percentage of publications digitally
that act is that the public is best served by   (more than 90%) to the approximately
having access to depository collections         1,250 depository libraries. Publications in
that are located near where they live or        GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publica-
work. Expressed another way, they should        tions are increasingly preserved as a PURL
not have to travel vast distances to visit a    (Persistent Uniform Resource Locator).
depository collection.2                         Furthermore, depository libraries, as well
   In the early 1990s, as use of the Internet   as the private and not-for-profit sectors,
became widespread, government added             are digitizing government resources and
a new component, e-government, whose            making them available.
antecedents date back at least to initia-
tives of the 1960s. According to Jeffrey        Problem Statement
W. Seifert of the Congressional Research        In such a digital environment, the na-
Service (CRS):                                  tional government continues to expand
                                                its Internet services and to disseminate
   One of the overarching themes of             more information resources in a wide
   e-government is to realize fully             variety of formats directly to all segments
   the capabilities of available IT [in-        of society (including, for instance, the
   formation technology] in an effort           nation’s youth, elderly, and those seek-
   to transform government from an              ing materials in languages other than
   agency-centric, limited service op-          English). Given this environment, how
   eration into an automated, citizen-          many libraries want to remain in the
   centric operation capable of deliver-        depository library program and what
   ing government services to citizens,         role do they intend to play? No study has
   businesses, and other government             investigated that role from the perspective
   agencies twenty-four hours a day,            of library directors—the individuals who
   seven days a week.3                          shape a library’s strategic direction and
                                                have formed an overarching picture of the
   As part of e-government, each execu-         organization and how the various parts
tive branch department or agency; inde-         of the library fit together. The purpose of
pendent agency; congressional chamber,          this study is to fill that void by examin-
committee, member, or agency; or judicial       ing the viewpoints of directors whose
court or agency maintains a Web site            libraries are members of the Association
that disseminates a variety of govern-          of Research Libraries (ARL).
                                 The Federal Depository Library Program in 2023 353

   Although the focus of this study is on       government programs, on the Internet,
research-intensive universities, the find-      a number of them want to continue to
ings have implications for other members        receive print government publications by
of the depository library program, for          mail or by visiting government offices and
similar programs in the United States           public libraries.6 Still, to lower printing
and in other countries, and for libraries       and distribution costs, the government
likely to benefit from the creation of new      is reducing the number of print publica-
services. This study reflects the extent        tions, preferring the public to depend on
to which ARL libraries view govern-             the digital environment.
ment information resources as critical to           In comparison to the previously
achieving their strategic directions. It also   mentioned work, a study conducted in
reminds those involved in administering         New Zealand for its national govern-
depository programs and overseeing              ment indicates that many segments of
depository collections that directors de-       the public, including the business com-
termine the role that libraries play in the     munity, prefer Internet access to govern-
program. That determination takes into          ment information. They seldom consult
account faculty and other interests as well     (or are aware of) government portals and
as competing and shifting priorities and        search engines, and they continue to rely
fiscal and space constraints. Further, the      extensively on Google™ to locate relevant
study reminds directors about depository        information contained on government
collections and services and affords an         homepages.7
opportunity to consider such collections            Over the years, government docu-
and services in terms of future strategic       ments librarians writing about the tran-
directions.                                     sition to a more electronic depository
                                                program have emphasized a network of
Literature Review                               partnerships with depository libraries, the
Since the 1970s, various conceptualiza-         GPO, and perhaps the National Archives
tions of a restructured depository library      and Records Administration (NARA) and
program have been advanced; however,            other government bodies. That network,
these works do not consider depository          for instance, included the partnership
collections and services from the perspec-      between the Department of State and
tive of the entire organization.5 Studies       the University of Chicago at Illinois to
on users and uses of government infor-          guarantee permanent public access to
mation date back to the early 1970s, but        departmental publications created dur-
little research has addressed information-      ing the Clinton administration. Another
seeking patterns in the present digital         partnership, one between the GPO and
environment. An exception, funded by            the National Renewable Energy Labora-
the Institute of Museum and Library             tory, assures “permanent public access to
Services (IMLS) and conducted by the            publications from 1977 to the present on
Pew Internet and American Life Project          subjects related to renewable energy and
and the University of Illinois-Urbana,          energy-efficient technologies” (see www.
suggests how 2,796 American adults use
the Internet, public libraries, and govern-         At a conference sponsored by ARL on
ment agencies. One finding is that, “in         the future of the depository program in
general, more people turn to the [I]nternet     2002, Judy Russell, then GPO’s Superin-
(at home, work, libraries or other places)      tendent of Documents, notes that, “within
than any other source of information and        a few years, perhaps as few as five, there
support, including experts and family           will be very few tangible products dis-
members.” Although a majority of the            tributed to depository libraries, other
respondents prefer access to government         than those that we collectively decide
publications, as well as information about      to preserve in paper.” 9 She highlights
354 College & Research Libraries                                                July 2009

GPO initiatives, such as becoming an            as the primary network through which
archival affiliate of NARA and preserv-         the public gains access to government
ing all digital publications entering the       information.… The public increasingly
program, and inserting digital signatures       favors direct access to Web-based fed-
on congressional bills, Federal Register        eral information over the alternative of
documents, and all files in GPO Access          visiting a local FDL.” The authors of the
(                            document specify that:
   Prudence S. Adler of ARL points out
that, in 2003, the Public Printer of the          Since its inception in 1994, GPO
United States, the head of the GPO, facili-       Access retrievals have exceeded 2.2
tated a discussion about the future direc-        billion. The average number of re-
tions of the depository program as part           trievals from GPO Access in FY 2004
of the effort to “address the fundamental         was 1.1 million per day. March 2005
question that we have been asking each            was the busiest month ever, with
other since 1995. Why be a depository             almost 39 million retrievals. This
library when you can obtain ‘everything’          count does not include the millions
(or virtually everything) free on the Inter-      of visits Web users made monthly
net without being part of the program?”           to executive agencies. Past efforts
ARL depositories, she notes, “invest far          to estimate use of materials in FDLs
more resources in the… [p]rogram than             suggest a far more modest number
GPO does—some estimates suggest that              of users and uses, something in the
each of your libraries spends $10 for each        vicinity of 712,000 per month in
$1 worth of publications you receive and          public and academic FDLs.15
that may be conservative.”10
   At the spring 2006 meeting of the               It merits mention that GPO Access
Depository Library Council to the Public        does not focus exclusively on depository
Printer (DLC), members of the deposi-           libraries; except for titles in GPO’s sales
tory community were asked to reflect            program, it is the portal for free access
on the future of the program and gov-           to those information resources that the
ernment information. They were asked            legislative agency publicly disseminates.
to address variables such as physical              The same authors believe that there
and electronic collections, services, col-      is still a role for the FDL program in a
laboration, relationship with federal           “Web-dominated information environ-
government (governance), structure of           ment,” but, to accomplish that role, indi-
program, and metadata (cataloging and           vidual depositories will have to change
invisible (virtual) finding aids).11 The au-    “what they do, how they collaborate as a
thors of those personal scenarios assume        community, and how they partner with
a terrorist attack in 2013; the passage of      government and private sector entities to
a Web, Internet, and Media Publishing           maximize collections and services and op-
Savings Act (PL 116-66) in 2019; and            timally incorporate the opportunities the
other fictitious developments. They even        Web offers.” Moreover, “upon completion
project that sixty libraries will participate   of… [GPO’s proposed national digital col-
in CLOCKSS (Controlled Lots of Copies           lection], every library with Internet access
Keep Stuff Safe), which is a reliable and       can offer a large current and retrospective
secure system for preserving online,            collection of federal publications. Librar-
scholarly journal content.12                    ies and their users will clearly benefit
   The DLC has advanced a vision of what        from this treasure trove of content.” The
the depository program might become.13          GPO, the authors suggest, might offer:
In a companion publication,14 the Council
acknowledges that “The [W]eb has super-           various levels of participation in the
seded FDLs [federal depository libraries]         depository program. This is more
                                  The Federal Depository Library Program in 2023 355

   than simply a matter of increasing             to support their local clientele. A few
   or decreasing one’s item selection             libraries—possibly only light archives—
   rate. GPO could investigate offering           continue to manage full collections of
   value-added access or services to              tangible publications. Libraries are active
   depository libraries as one method             collaborators in leveraging the opportu-
   of retaining membership in the                 nities of the Web to extend and enhance
   program. Having no-fee access                  public access to government information.
   to services such as the National               It is likely in this scenario that the status
   Weather Service data could be a                of designated [depositories] becomes
   powerful incentive for depositories            increasingly moot; in effect, all libraries
   either to stay in the program or join          function to some extent as government
   it in the future.                              information access centers.”
                                                      In June 2008, the GPO, at the request of
   With regard to this study, the authors         the Joint Committee on Printing (JCP), the
outline three possible futures for the            congressional committee that oversees the
program:                                          GPO and general printing procedures of
    1. “Fold: [Depository libraries]…             the government, published Regional De-
conclude that the Web carries most of             pository Libraries in the 21st Century: A Time
what their users need, that the obliga-           for Change?, which addresses the extent
tions of being part of the program are            to which public access via the depository
too demanding to bother with staying,             program is “impaired by current or pro-
that they can purchase the handful of             jected organizational, financial, technolog-
government publications they feel they            ical, or other conditions affecting regional
need in tangible format, and… that they           depository libraries.”17 One of the findings
can effectively assist their clientele in their   is, “depository operations are competing
quests for government information.”16             for limited funds and space that are also
    2. “Status Quo: [Depository librar-           needed for users, staff, computers, and
ies]… continue to collect the small               other collections. Multiple service desks
number of essential titles distributed in         within a library are disappearing in favor
tangible format and provide local public          of one centralized service point.”18
services for these collections and on Web-            In summary, the literature represents
based federal information resources.…             various viewpoints about the depository
[I]n this… scenario the library role in           library program and its future. Over the
government information dissemination              years, some of the library directors serv-
will substantially contract and ultimately        ing as members of the DLC and those
wither away.… [L]ibrarians continue to            participating in a venue organized by the
treat information as though it is a scarcity,     ARL have commented about the role of
although our patrons are living in a world        the program in a digital environment.19
of information abundance.”                        Nonetheless, there has been no concerted
    3. “Proactive: [Depository librar-            effort to involve ARL university library
ies] and the library community pull               directors in the development of scenarios
together in collaboration with the GPO,           that reflect their views on the program’s
federal agencies, and other Web-based             future and to see which of those scenarios
stakeholders to service the virtual FDLP          are the most institutionally viable. This
[federal depository library program]              study, as noted in the problem statement,
collection on the Web. Some… [deposi-             fills that void.
tory libraries] build digital collections as
light archives…. Most… [depositories]             Procedures
contribute their government information           Scenarios
expertise in a collaborative online user          Using the alternative futures identified
assistance program as well as continue            in the DLC’s discussion document,20 the
356 College & Research Libraries                                               July 2009

authors developed four scenarios as alter-        The following assumptions were made
natives to the status quo. These scenarios     in the construction of the scenarios. First,
project different visions of the role that     the perspective of the director shapes
ARL libraries might play by the year 2023;     strategic directions and the types of op-
a fifteen-year limit was selected based on     tions that might be selected. Second, while
the recommendation of forecaster Joseph        university research libraries comprise a
P. Martino, who indicates that the accu-       subset of libraries in the depository pro-
racy in predicting what will likely occur      gram, they have more resources that, in
declines dramatically with a longer time       principle, might be targeted to depository
frame.21 They developed the scenarios          collection and services. Third, the time
after reviewing the ones that Duane E.         frame is 15 years hence, which is suffi-
Webster, then ARL’s executive director,        cient to influence the strategic directions
conceived for member libraries.22              that might emerge. Fourth, by then, most
    According to Dana Mietzner and             likely, not all government information
Guido Reger:                                   resources will be digitized and not all of
                                               the content of all government homepages
  scenarios, as a prime technique              will be captured. And, last, any option
  of future studies, have long been            involves basic concerns such as financial
  used by government planners,                 prospects, internal resource allocation,
  corporate managers and military              philosophy, and relationships with user
  analysts as powerful tools to aid            communities, in particular, faculty.
  in decision making in the face of               The first scenario, which covers both
  uncertainty. The idea behind them            the DLC’s fold or status quo scenarios,
  is to establish thinking about pos-          focuses on the library withdrawing from
  sible futures which can minimi[z]e           the program due to the need to convert
  surprises and broaden the span of            collection space to other purposes or
  managers’ thinking about different           retaining the historical collection with
  possibilities.23                             minimal acquisition of new titles (either
                                               digital or print). In the next scenario,
    They recommend that the number of          which expands on the status quo scenar-
scenarios not exceed four and that any         io, the library provides a digital feed of
scenario should meet criteria such as          government information resources to its
plausibility (each is capable of happen-       Web site, becoming a digital depository,
ing), differentiation (each differs from the   albeit one with a historical print collec-
others and together they offer multiple        tion. The third scenario, which builds
futures), decision-making utility (each        on the concept of a digital depository,
offers insights into the future that help      sees the library entering into a formal
in planning and decision making), chal-        partnership with the GPO, such as the
lenging (each challenges conventional          one advanced in the proactive scenario
wisdom about the future). The goal of          developed by the DLC. In the final sce-
this study of university library directors     nario, which expands on the previous
is to produce a set of scenarios that meets    one, the library digitizes information
these criteria and a final one: they cover     resources, including images, and cre-
all likely situations. By adhering to such     ates content. The library functions as
criteria, those engaged in the develop-        a center for gaining access to govern-
ment of scenarios assist organizations in      ment information, but there might be
planning for future events and ensuring        limitations on the use of some digitized
that an important area (for instance, a li-    collections the library archived. The
brary’s collection of government publica-      official designation as a member of the
tions and involvement in e-government)         GPO depository library program could
is not neglected.                              become moot.
                                The Federal Depository Library Program in 2023 357

    Webster and Robert E. Dugan of Suf-        doctoral program in managerial leader-
folk University, a former member of            ship, individually reviewed the initial,
the DLC, reviewed the draft scenarios.         additional, and revised sets of scenarios.
Based on their comments, the authors           Based on their suggestions, the revised
revised the introduction to the scenarios,     scenarios were further modified and
reworked the content of some scenarios,        then considered by another ten library
and expanded the primary motivations           directors (phase two). Once that phase
(see the appendix for the initial set of       was completed, the investigators shared
scenarios). They do not see the set of         a draft of the paper, containing the com-
scenarios as applying to all members of        plete set of scenarios, with all participat-
the depository library program—only            ing directors in case they wanted to make
to the ARL subset—and through 2023.            additional comments. (No additional
In devising the scenarios, the authors         comments were received.)
tried to avoid making assumptions for
which there is no scholarly and research       Findings
literature related to managing depository      Of the thirty participants, five oversee
collections and services as well as to the     regional depository collections. Table
effectiveness and economic efficiency of       1 indicates which scenarios all of the
the program on which to draw.24                respondents favor; directors of regional
                                               collections tend to favor scenario 3 (pro-
Study Population and Data-collection           gram partners with GPO). Sixteen of the
Process                                        twenty directors participating in phase
The January 2008 roster of ARL member          one selected scenarios 2 (digital deposi-
libraries identifies 93 universities in the    tory), 3, and 4 (expanded content partner
United States as depositories, whose           without GPO involvement). Viewed from
directors are neither interim nor acting.      another perspective, seven directors favor
Of these, 20 are regional depositories and     a partnership with the GPO (scenario
73 are selective depositories. From March      3), and six prefer a digital depository
through July 2008, 30 ARL directors            (scenario 2).
(32.3% of the population) were arbitrarily        In phase two, three directors choose
selected to review the scenarios; they         the third scenario and two support the
come from different parts of the country,      fourth one. Of the two not favoring any
represent public and private universities,     of the four scenarios, one believes that all
and are responsible for either regional        publications will be digitized well before
or selective depository collections. In-       the 15-year limit is reached, and he offers
terviewed in person or by telephone,           a different scenario (see the Discussion
they were asked to make suggestions for        section, alternative scenarios). One direc-
clarifying content and the driving forces      tor has little interest in the program as a
for each scenario. Additionally, they were     regional depository is nearby, other librar-
asked to either choose the scenario that       ies are investing in the program, and his
most closely mirrors their vision for their    institution is moving in a different stra-
institution or craft a vision of a preferred   tegic direction—identifying the Web sites
future (by the year 2023) by identifying       of relevant human rights organizations in
the most important factors to include,         selected countries in Africa and Latin and
if they do not favor one of the existing       South America; gathering and preserving
scenarios.                                     their “fragile, vulnerable content”; and
    Once the first twenty participants pro-    disclosing that content to various search
vided their commentary (phase one of the       engines (such as Google™). He envisions
study), Dugan and Joan Giesecke, dean          more ARL libraries playing a similar role
of libraries at the University of Nebraska     for other areas and not focusing narrowly
and professor of practice at Simmons           on the depository library program unless
358 College & Research Libraries                                                               July 2009

                                            Table 1
                                        Favored Scenarios
 Scenarios                                          Number Selecting It        Number Selecting It
                                                      (phase one)*                (phase two)
 One (Shifting Priorities)                                     2                           2
 Two (Digital Depository)                                      6                           1
 Three (Program Partner with the GPO)                          7                           3
 Four (Expanded Content Partner without                        3                           2
 GPO Involvement)
 Other                                                         2                         2**
    Five (Global Digital Collector)
    Six (Multitype/Regional
 Total                                                         20                         10
 *Some directors like features of other scenarios but selected the one highlighted here as providing the
 primary framework.
 **See the section of Discussion offering alternative scenarios.

its resources match the university’s stra-             tain a very limited role, one that enables
tegic directions.                                      the library to retain the resources in that
    Although there are differences in the              collection. (If the library withdraws from
wording between both sets of scenarios,                the program, it covers the cost of deselec-
it is possible to compile totals for the               tion and returning the publications to the
scenarios. In doing so, ten (33.3%) sup-               GPO.) Either way, the collection, which
port scenario 3 (program partner with                  will not add any more paper copy to it,
the GPO), whereas five (16.7%) express                 might be moved to another location in
interest in scenario 4 (expanded content               the library, and the freed-up space could
partner without GPO involvement).                      be used for other purposes. The general
Seven directors (23.3%) endorse scenario               public service staff will provide any ser-
2 (digital depository), and four (13.3%)               vices needed for government information.
favor scenario one (shifting priorities).              When such services are inadequate, the
The remaining four (13.3%) either offer                university’s community will be referred
a new scenario or see their institutions               to another depository library, probably
going in a different direction.                        the nearest regional or whatever replaces
                                                       the present regional system (for instance,
Finalization of the Scenarios                          a few super-regionals that collect print and
After completion of the second phase of                digital publications on a comprehensive basis
interviews, the six scenarios were final-              and serve an entire census region or division;
ized. The nonitalicized content results       In
from completion of the first phase and                 summary, the library serves as a steward
the review by the two outside experts.                 for the publications it already has or de-
The italicized content, on the other hand,             clines that role by removing itself from
was suggested during the second phase                  the depository program.
of scenario development.                                  The primary motivations for pursuing
    One (Shifting Priorities). The library             this scenario are economics, a space short-
no longer considers the resources in the               age, staffing, technology constraints, and
depository collection as critical to meeting           the availability of government resources
its strategic directions. It is likely either to       readily through the GPO’s portal, agency
withdraw from the program or to main-                  homepages, and depository library Web
                                  The Federal Depository Library Program in 2023 359

sites. Increasingly, a number of library            Three (Program Partner with the
users prefer e-resources, so their use of        GPO). Building on the concept of a
physical collections is declining. Cost-ef-      digital depository, the library enters into
fective use of central campus space makes        a formal partnership with the GPO; typi-
storage of physical collections increasingly     cally, partnerships have been formed to
impractical. Operating costs, especially         provide either permanent public access
those relating to staff, continue to be evalu-   to electronic content unavailable on GPO
ated for savings and efficiencies.               Access (current or historical content) or
   Two (Digital Depository without Con-          new services to enhance the depository
tent Creation). Because depository and           program. Partnerships generally fall into
other government information resources           three categories and might lead to the for-
are critical in meeting the university’s         mal creation of shared collections among
strategic initiatives, the library provides      regionals in a state:
a digital feed of government information             1. Content partnerships. Participants
resources to its Web site, thereby becom-        agree to assist the GPO by taking content,
ing a portal for access to e-government          storing it, and providing public access
information resources. The library re-           without any restrictions on redissemina-
ceives, but does not create, digital content.    tion. Content might be a certain type of
Characterized as a digital depository,           publication or the information resources
albeit one perhaps with a historical print       of defunct agencies. “In the event the
collection (meaning it no longer selects         partner is no longer able to provide free,
any print or microfiche publications), the       public access to this electronic informa-
library purchases digitized collections          tion, the partnership requires the agency
and index search tools developed by the          or library to transfer a copy of the content
private sector. As a depository, it gains no     to the GPO. The GPO will then make the
fee access to selected services that federal     content available either through GPO
agencies offer, such as data from the Na-        Access or in cooperation with another
tional Weather Service.                          partner.”
   The primary motivations for pursuing              2. “Service partnerships. Partici-
this scenario are a desire to expand the         pants assist the GPO to provide enhanced
investment in government information             services… [to users through] depository
resources (assuming that the investment          libraries. These partnerships focus on
has been quantified) beyond the equiva-          repurposing GPO-provided informa-
lent of print publications; to advance re-       tion or on providing other services to
search, teaching, and learning; to continue      depository libraries and the public. These
making an investment in information              services may provide assistance to librar-
technologies, ones that will enable the          ians with administering their depository
community served to take full advantage          collections.”
of e-government offerings; and to offer              3. “Hybrid partnerships. These partner-
more resources through the library’s             ships are a mixture of content and service
homepage for remote access. There is             partnerships. For example, providing
recognition that knowledge creation may          permanent public access to electronic
require an infusion of varied offerings          government information and offering a
from government; thus, government                service important to the administration
information, mostly in digital form, is a        of the depository collection or program.”
strategic resource for the library. Further-        Given the extent of document avail-
more, given e-government and the extent          ability through e-government, the library
to which the GPO disseminates titles to          wants to capture digital resources for
depository libraries digitally, the library      its community, to assist other libraries
wants to capture digital resources critical      in introducing new services, and to be
to the community it serves.                      involved in a formal partnership rela-
360 College & Research Libraries                                                       July 2009

tionship. A content partnership includes           tion, mostly in digital form, is a strategic
the creation and maintenance of a dark             resource for the library. Furthermore, given
archive, which serves as a repository for          e-government and the extent to which the
fugitive government publications. Such             GPO disseminates titles to depository libraries
an archive can be used as a failsafe to            digitally, the library wants to capture digital
ensure that a permanent copy always ex-            resources critical to the community it serves.
ists. Anytime that a document is sought,           If hub sites, or some other equivalent, however,
the repository system duplicates a copy.           are to emerge, Title 44, United States Code,
(Note that if the dark archive exists with-        chapter 19, will require revision.
out any GPO involvement, the archive                   Four (Expanded Content Partner
belongs in the next scenario.)                     without GPO Being a Partner). The li-
    A different type of content partnership        brary collaborates with its (or the campus)
involves the library as one of the few libraries   center for digital initiatives on projects to
in the nation willing to develop and preserve      digitize current and historical collections
a comprehensive, historical collection of print    of government information resources
government publications. Serving the entire        in varied print and nonprint formats.
geographical area, each hub conducts an in-        Content is preserved and offered to the
ventory of its collection and fills in gaps from   communities served by more than the
the holdings of other libraries in the region.     local institution. Through the center, the
Whenever there is a request, the library lends     library digitizes government information
the print copy so that the public can verify       resources for faculty use in their classes
the accuracy of content. As a consequence, the     (placing content on course management
library preserves, but does not create, content.   software) and for student research, and
    Perhaps as part of the National Digital        perhaps creates fee-based services for
Information Infrastructure and Preserva-           its clientele outside the institution. Thus,
tion Program (NDIIPP), whose goal “is to           this scenario involves extensive efforts to
develop a national strategy to collect, archive    raise the necessary resources to create col-
and preserve the growing amounts of digital        laborative projects that benefit the institu-
content, especially materials that are created     tion’s faculty and improve public access to
only in digital formats, for current and future    government information resources. As one
generations” (         value-added service, the library manipulates
library/), the library—together with other         government datasets through geographic in-
partners—captures, manages, preserves, and         formation systems (GISs) to create new data
disseminates Web-based content of agreed-on        and information for the university’s faculty
government homepages on a recurring basis.         and students as well as outside communities.
    The primary motivations for pursuing               The library digitizes government infor-
this scenario are a desire to expand the           mation resources, contributes information
investment in government information               about digitizing projects to a clearinghouse
resources (assuming that the investment            on government information, participates in a
has been quantified) beyond the equiva-            consortium of libraries, and creates an equiva-
lent of print publications; to advance re-         lent of JSTOR, an archive of digital resources
search, teaching, and learning; to continue        in sequential order for which the library offers
making an investment in information                the entire set. The library, either alone or with
technologies, ones that will enable the            other libraries, might work with for-profit
community served to take full advantage            companies (such as Google™) in providing
of e-government offerings; and to offer            access to digitized documents.
more resources through the library’s                   The library’s official designation as a
homepage for remote access. There is rec-          member of the GPO depository library
ognition that knowledge creation may re-           program becomes moot; in effect, the
quire an infusion of varied offerings from         library functions as a nonduplicative,
government; thus, government informa-              digital government information archive,
                                 The Federal Depository Library Program in 2023 361

access, and service center and does such        technologies, ones that will enable the
in collaboration with other libraries and       community served to take full advantage
perhaps providers existing outside the          of e-government offerings; and to offer
library community. Most likely those            more resources through the library’s
libraries pursuing this scenario would          homepage for remote access. There is
want to discuss the creation of a formal        recognition that knowledge creation may
partnership and cooperative venture to          require an infusion of varied offerings
ensure adequate bibliographic control           from government; thus, government
and public access.                              information, mostly in digital form, is a
   The primary motivations for pursuing         strategic resource for the library. Further-
this scenario are a desire to expand the        more, given e-government and the extent
investment in government information            to which the GPO disseminates titles to
resources (assuming that the investment         depository libraries digitally, the library
has been quantified) beyond the equiva-         wants to capture digital resources critical
lent of print publications; to advance re-      to the university community.
search, teaching, and learning; to continue        Six (Multitype/Regional Partner-
making an investment in information             ships). A depository library—one par-
technologies, ones that will enable the         ticipating in scenario 3—functions as a
community served to take full advantage         service partner or node for other libraries
of e-government offerings; and to offer         in the area (such as public and school) to
more resources through the library’s            train staff to locate and retrieve govern-
homepage for remote access. There is            ment information—be it from the federal,
recognition that knowledge creation may         state, or local level—that their communi-
require an infusion of varied offerings         ties need. The library develops self-help
from government; thus, government               and educational services and materials,
information, mostly in digital form, is a       and it shares its resources with its node
strategic resource for the library.             partners. In signing agreements with
   Five (Global Digital Collector). Build-      commercial vendors for their products
ing from scenario 2, to meet the univer-        and services, the library tries to represent
sity’s strategic initiatives, the library re-   the interests of its partners. In some cases,
ceives digital content from more than the       however, some resources may not be
GPO. It purchases digitized collections         shared. The purpose of this scenario is to
covering resources of other countries, as       link more people with appropriate content
well as indexing and search tools devel-        and not to digitize new content.
oped by the private sector. On a selective         The primary motivations for this sce-
basis, the library obtains publications         nario are political, legal, economic, civic,
from the Web sites of government bod-           and educational. The goal is to enable
ies—be they from other governments or           all libraries and any interested members
international organizations. Most likely,       of the public to learn about the role and
the library provides a digital feed for gov-    value of government information and to
ernment digital resources to its depository     be able to locate and retrieve needed in-
Web site, thereby becoming a portal for         formation. Because this scenario requires
e-government information resources.             congressional and presidential support,
   The primary motivations for pursuing         passage of any legislation must compete
this scenario are a desire to expand the        with other national priorities and requires
investment in government information            broad support within Congress and the
resources (assuming that the investment         appropriate committees, including the
has been quantified) beyond the equiva-         appropriations committees. It may be
lent of print publications; to advance re-      that the participating and cooperating
search, teaching, and learning; to continue     libraries cannot fully underwrite the obli-
making an investment in information             gations that this scenario implies. Clearly,
362 College & Research Libraries                                                    July 2009

achievement of this scenario requires            the state, she would not recognize an
strong and effective leadership from the         obligation to the selectives and would
GPO and JCP.                                     consider surrendering depository status
                                                 and returning the collection to the GPO.
Discussion                                           Desire for Digital Access. The directors
Analysis of Director Commentaries                prefer digital access, which aligns with
The commentaries group into the fol-             user needs and expectations and reduces
lowing categories: some imprecision in           the amount of physical space required for
deciding on a scenario; a desire for digital     storage of print documents. Several direc-
access; alternative scenarios; an emphasis       tors look forward to a time when they
on streamlining collections and services;        can “dump the print.” Declaring “digital
negative opinions of the GPO, JCP, and           forward,” one director asks, “Why should
documents librarians; an interest in cre-        I treat government publications differ-
ating or furthering partnerships among           ent from other resources?” He notes the
libraries; and an acknowledgement of             library’s commitment to e-resources as a
the burdens—in terms of space, budget,           cost-effective effort (saving shelf space, pro-
and workflow—created by participation            cessing and other costs, and meeting user
in the program.                                  needs and preferences). He underscores
   Imprecision in Deciding on a Sce-             that a print collection, be it in documents
nario. Although the directors selected a         or other, is “dying” given the shifting in-
scenario (see Table 1), some are unable          formation-seeking patterns of the constitu-
to place their institution fully in it. The      ency served. He points to the infrequent
reasons are that they might like certain         use of the print documents collection and
features of another scenario, they might         to the dramatic decline in statistics relating
see their institution as falling between         to amount of general titles borrowed and
two scenarios, or they might question the        the number of general reference questions
ability of the institution to support the sce-   asked. On the other hand, the number of
nario they selected on a broad basis or the      people in the building is at an all-time high.
likelihood that Title 44, United States Code,        There is a difference of opinion about
Chapter 19, will be rewritten to make their      whether all historical print documents
choice realistic. For example, one director      will be digitized by 2023 and whether
would like to function fully within scenar-      such an occurrence will remove the need
io 4 (expanded content partner without           to retain legacy print collections. Several
GPO involvement). Unless Chapter 19 is           participants question who would set the
revised, he suspects that libraries may be       standards for digitization and product
unwilling to pursue content and service          quality, and they note the heavy cost
partnerships that do not involve the GPO.        in terms of equipment, time, and staff
The library, he foresees, will remain in the     involved in creating a collection on par
depository library program but is likely to      with JSTOR. One director, in particular,
seek additional partnerships on its own          expresses a concern over whether host
since so much government information             libraries would have any input on the
continues to elude capture by the GPO.           preservation standards. While the move
Such partnerships might emerge from              to digital access is preferred overall, direc-
developing relationships with federal            tors also stress the importance of some
agencies, which he is willing to do.             libraries creating paper copy for backup
   Another director sees regional status         and preservation purposes in case the
as holding the library back from adopting        accuracy of content is ever questioned.
scenario 4, which she favors. The library        Two directors emphasize the need to
retains its regional status in an effort to      archive a set of documents to be sure one
assist the selective depositories in the         permanent copy always exists, with one
state. If there were another regional in         referencing CLOCKSS.
                                The Federal Depository Library Program in 2023 363

    Related to concerns about the quality of   to define the depository library program
digital access are concerns of scope. Those    by a finite number of libraries. Currently,
interviewed note the growing difficulty of     the vast majority of documents are issued
creating comprehensive collections and         electronically, meaning that any library
capturing content as more government           could and should become a portal for gov-
agencies bypass the GPO and publish            ernment information. Although historical
documents directly to the Web. These           collections are still largely available only
directors wonder how they could cast           in print, this director foresees the possi-
a wide enough net to be sure that they         bility of a JSTOR-like digitization project.
were finding the necessary information         While she believes such a project could be
resources that are not being collected and     developed, she underscores the need for
distributed by the GPO, or whether, after      stronger and more aggressive leadership
years of narrowing coverage, the GPO           from the government, in particular GPO,
might try to expand its scope in the future.   to support and initiate the project, and to
If not, at least one director expressed con-   set the standards for the collection.
cern about “the level of effort required for      Most important, however, this director
access to a shrinking collection of docu-      feels service is a more pressing concern
ments.” Further, some directors worried        than collection building or access. In-
about the costs that could be associated       stead of designating certain libraries as
with having to procure government docu-        portals, as has been done historically, all
ments from a private entity.                   libraries should have access to govern-
    Alternative Scenarios. The directors       ment documents. Additionally, libraries
believe that the emerging set of scenarios     should concentrate on developing “ser-
offers a good foundation for discussing        vice nodes,” with libraries of different
key issues and for developing a dialogue       types (academic, public, and school)
with the GPO and other interested par-         working together to maintain a trained
ties. Three of them, however, request ad-      staff who can assist patrons in finding
ditional scenarios. The first director notes   and accessing information without the
that the university has a global presence      need for referrals to dedicated libraries.
with campuses in different countries that      She envisioned a “hub of operators” or
offer programs in such areas as business       “triage of services.” This system would
and foreign service. Given this situation,     allow for service responsibilities to be
she wants to remain in the depository          shared across all types of libraries and
program and to see a scenario that goes        would focus on packaging self-help and
beyond the GPO program and has global          educational services and materials. Such
dimensions. Her preference is for digital      a system could link people to content and
documents, and she points out that, upon       “make services findable, deliverable,”
request, the library uploads microfiche        again without relying on limited numbers
to the desktop for faculty and students.       of institutions.
The library is willing to acquire digital         Instead of looking at a set of scenarios
documents from government homepages            that help make the transition to a new
or packages offered by the private sector.     future, the third director prefers to focus
Thus, the scenario she envisions is similar    on the “endgame” or what will result
to the second one but with a global focus.     from that transition. Within the next 10
    The second director, who sees all of       to 15 years, he (and some of the other
the choices as too limited, refrained from     directors concur) expects all government
choosing one of the scenarios. While           publications, both present and past, to
indicating a strong belief in the necessity    be available digitally. He thinks that
of disseminating government informa-           Google™ and the commercial sector will
tion to create an informed citizenry, she      play a major role in achieving this goal.
feels it is no longer necessary or useful      For him, the endgame will be a virtual de-
364 College & Research Libraries                                               July 2009

pository network in which libraries play a        One option proposed for streamlining
central role. The libraries at the forefront   collections is for a depository serving an
of the program (large public, state, and       entire census division or region of the
ARL libraries) will have comprehensive         country to retain a comprehensive print
collections; they will acquire digital         collection, allowing others to borrow
publications from government entities,         needed titles. Instead of creating such de-
preserve them, and make them available         positories, there might be a dark archive
for the general public. The public will        that provides access to permanent copies.
benefit from the access tools these service    Increased digitization should also allow
centers create.                                a move away from “individual, unique
   One director, who disagrees with            collections” to a framework that enables
the “endgame” scenario, believes that          access to the same information from all
it will take “many years” for everything       locations. However, as different directors
to be digitized and captured, organized,       note, efficient solutions may require revi-
prepared for general use, and preserved.       sion of Chapter 19.
She thinks that capturing the “vast” and          Negative Opinion of the GPO, JCP,
diverse content of agency homepages will       and Documents Librarians. The direc-
present a major challenge for scenarios        tors selecting scenarios 3 and 4 tend to
3 (content partner with the GPO) and 4         characterize the GPO and the JCP as
(expanded content partner not involving        impediments to progress rather than as
the GPO). She also questions digitiza-         potential partners, pointing specifically to
tion projects such as the one through          the JCP’s refusal to support the memoran-
Google™. She notes that they are only          dum of understanding between Nebraska
digitizing material of a standard size,        and Kansas.25 The impression is that the
whereas government publications appear         GPO does not provide leadership and
in a wide variety of sizes. Further, she       no longer seeks to get to know member
questions the preservation quality of the      libraries and their strategic priorities.
products and whether libraries will have       Indeed, one director went so far as to
adequate capability to view documents          envision removing the GPO “from the
and appendices printed in a very small         equation” altogether. This feeling is espe-
font size.                                     cially strong among most of the directors
   Streamlining Collections and Ser-           overseeing regional collections.
vices. Many directors comment on the              Although some directors believe they
amount of space that government docu-          have “forward-thinking” documents li-
ments require in their print form. One         brarians, others feel the opposite. As the
of them, for instance, reports that the        director of a regional depository explains,
documents collection currently occu-           “the more that directors know about the
pies 15,600 feet of shelving space, with       program and a library’s responsibilities,
12 new shelves of material added each          the less likely documents librarians can
year. Some report storage on compact           bluff about the legal obligations and seek
shelving, and one is planning on mov-          to maintain the status quo.”
ing the entire documents collection to            Creating or Furthering Partnerships.
a separate, though nearby, facility with       Some directors speak of extending the
robotic shelving. Recognizing that cut-        idea of collection partnerships to service
ting back on the size of the current col-      partnerships such as those envisioned
lection might require revision of current      by the director recommending scenario
statutory law, some directors would like       6 (multitype/regional partnerships). In
to pursue cooperative collection devel-        particular, such partnerships could take
opment policies that would reduce the          advantage of increased digital access and
number of duplicate titles held among          reduce referrals among depository librar-
“cooperative partners.”                        ies by increasing and improving direct
                                 The Federal Depository Library Program in 2023 365

service to patrons. Some participants hint      of reports, which create “a substantial
that the GPO could become marginalized          administrative cost to the institution.”
if the program evolved in this direction,       Another director stresses that regional de-
unless it works to develop “the service         positories must review publications that
side.”                                          selective depositories in the state want
    Given the issues associated with eco-       to discard. The number of items subject
nomics of scale for digital storage, two        to review has dramatically increased as
directors pledged a willingness to con-         libraries prefer digital over print hold-
tribute financially to a cooperative storage    ings. As a result, many regionals face
program. As they note, their universities       significant backlogs as their staff struggle
are not in a position to provide digital        to keep up with the current demand.
storage, including file backup.                    Despite widespread acknowledgement
    One director favoring the third sce-        of these burdens, only four directors con-
nario (content partner with the GPO)            sider withdrawing from the program en-
expresses a willingness for the library to      tirely. They note other depository libraries
serve the entire geographical region and        in close proximity, infrequent use of the
maintain a print copy (copy of last resort)     collection, and a need to convert the space
so that other libraries could become more       to other purposes. One of these directors
selective in their print holdings. She does     mentions that only congressional reports
not favor the copy of last resort residing      receive heavy use. Once all of these pub-
digitally and is willing to catalog all print   lications are available digitally, he points
publications so that other libraries know       out, there will be no need to remain in
what they have. The problem is that the         the program. The library is willing to
staff would have to conduct an inventory        surrender any documents so requested
to determine how many of the items,             by the GPO. Access to digital documents
including the historical ones, actually         is an insufficient reason to stay in the
reside in the collection and are in good        program. He adds, “The directors I talk
condition. Such an inventory, she projects,     to all want to get rid of the [depository]
could cost up to $4 million, which they do      collection and drop out of the program as
not have; the GPO is unlikely to provide        soon as possible.”
the necessary funding.                             By 2023, the director believes, the li-
    Burden of Membership in the Pro-            brary will be able to obtain needed digital
gram. The burden of participation in            documents elsewhere without reliance
the program, including that of cost, is a       on membership in the program, such
recurring theme. One director suggests          as directly from departments, agencies,
that the cost of being a regional varies        and congressional committees, or from
from $300,000 to $600,000 per year. The         the private sector. He recognizes that
collection contains approximately 200,000       government bodies do not preserve all
volumes, and the per-volume cost ranges         of their publications and that they might
between $2.00 and $3.00; this amount            withdraw or withhold titles from public
includes space, staff, shelf maintenance,       purview. Monitoring this situation and
dusting, and other maintenance costs. She       seeking remedies to offset such difficul-
also reminds other institutions about the       ties, however, “is not a role we see for
cost of quitting the program: removing          ourselves.”
titles from the collection and returning           Finally, several directors predict that,
them to the GPO.                                within the next 15 years, they would
    Other concerns include the strain on        cease to employ separate, dedicated
budget and workload associated with             government documents librarians. They
occasional audits done by the GPO. Such         assume the specialized knowledge will
audits involve preparation, including           be passed to reference librarians. If the
the gathering of statistics and generating      separate documents collection remains,
366 College & Research Libraries                                              July 2009

it will be an open space that is unstaffed.   or alteration. As several directors note,
A few respondents, however, do see a          such activities make it difficult, if not
continuation of the separate collection       impossible, to create a comprehensive
that a documents staff oversees.              collection.
   Other Opinions. The study does not            Future scenarios might include a fuller
probe the value that directors place on       range of activities associated with e-gov-
government information. Still, it is clear    ernment, namely information access, ser-
that a number of them consider such           vice delivery, procurement, e-compliance,
information invaluable in meeting their       governance (citizen engagement and
mission, want digitization to continue,       participation), emergency response, and
and are willing to support it through         e-commerce.27 Those scenarios should
digitization projects, provide financial      address more than ARL academic librar-
and technological support, contribute to      ies (other academic libraries, including
a dark archive for retaining print hold-      accredited law school libraries; public,
ings, and perhaps assist with cataloging      federal, state, court of law, and other
of documents. They see the value of Web       member libraries), and they need to rec-
2.0 and having metadata that will enhance     ognize the impact of operative law such
public access in the future.                  as the cost for removing massive numbers
                                              of print documents from collections and
The Scenarios                                 returning them to the GPO if depository
This study neither directly addresses         status is surrendered.
whether the depository program itself            Finally, by 2023, there might be a new
will exist fifteen years hence nor offers     future that involves a decentralized net-
a vision of what future will emerge after     work of libraries. There might, however,
2023. To make such determinations, the        be other futures. Alternatives might in-
set of scenarios and the corresponding        clude a centralized storage facility within
interviews would have to be expanded          government and decentralized service
and include, for instance, participants       outlets (such as libraries) or some other
from the GPO and the JCP. Such discus-        unforeseen option that addresses the full
sions could identify major changes to the     array of information resources now dis-
depository program, ones that require         seminated on government homepages.
revision of statutory law as written in the
1962 Depository Library Act.                  Conclusion
   At this time the GPO would like to         The type of research reported in this
be known “as the trusted information          article has value to strategic planning
disseminator” and as the provider of          for member and nonmember libraries
electronic documents that have “not been      in the program, as well as the GPO and
altered since [the] GPO disseminated ...      Congress, as the amount and types of
[them].”26 As noted in the background         government information resources (such
section, the executive and legislative        as photographic collections, datasets,
branches and, to a lesser extent, the         and unpublished records) and services
judicial branch are placing more digital      available through e-government, the
resources—far more than the print pub-        private sector, and the digitizing projects
lications traditionally distributed to de-    of the GPO and others increase. Because
pository libraries—on their homepages.        government Web sites comprise federal
Such developments have implications for       records, the content so deemed by NARA
any partnership involving the NDIIPP, as      needs to be preserved. Libraries can as-
government entities often do not retain all   sist in this endeavor through scenarios
resources permanently on their homep-         3 and 4 by identifying, preserving, and
ages, and content can be difficult to find    making the content of those Web sites
and can be subject to removal, redacting,     available.
                                    The Federal Depository Library Program in 2023 367

   Any further revisions of the scenarios            currently reflects their situation to the
presented here, however, might incor-                one they prefer, there needs to be dis-
porate print and digital resources avail-            cussion of the “endgame.” What types
able from different levels of government             of services will libraries offer up to
(including state, regional, and local, to            and after 2023? Will libraries or other
name three). Still, libraries might select           providers—perhaps e-government—be-
elements of different scenarios, thereby             come the dominant service outlets for
creating a hybrid. As libraries continue             the public at large and local community
their transition from the scenario that              groups?

     1. Culver H. Smith, The Press, Politics, and Patronage: The American Government’s Use of News-
papers, 1789–1875 (Athens, Ga.: The University of Georgia Press, 1977), xi. See also Peter Hernon
and Harold C. Relyea, “Information Policy,” in Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, ed.
Miriam A. Drake (New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc., 2003), vol. 2, 1300–15.
     2. See Peter Hernon, Charles R. McClure, and Gary R. Purcell, GPO’s Depository Library
Program: A Descriptive Analysis (Norwood, N.J.: Ablex, 1985), chap. 1.
     3. Jeffrey W. Seifert, “E-government in the United States,” in Comparative Perspectives on
E-government: Serving Today and Building for Tomorrow, ed. Peter Hernon, Rowena Cullen, and
Harold C. Relyea (Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2006), 28.
     4. The only major exception is the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Department of Interior. Its
homepage has been closed since December 2001 as part of a court order regarding mismanage-
ment of funds owed to American Indians (see
     5. See, for instance, Bernard M. Fry, Government Publications: Their Role in the National Program
for Library and Information Services (Washington, D.C.: National Commission on Libraries and
Information Science, 1978).
     6. Leigh Estabrook, Evans Witt, and Lee Raine, How People Use the Internet, Libraries, and Govern-
ment Agencies (Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Urbana, and the Pew Internet and American Life
Project, December 2007). Available online at
pdf. [Accessed 4 February 2008]. For discussions of the use of e-government services in public
libraries, see Florida State University, College of Information, Information Use Management and
Policy Institute, available online at [accessed 14 February 2008]; Information
Use Management and Policy Institute, E-government and Public Libraries: Current Status, Meeting
Report, Findings, and Next Steps (Tallahassee, Fla.: Florida State University, 2007), available online
at [accessed 14 February 2008].
     7. Rowena Cullen and Peter Hernon, Wired for Well-being: Citizens’ Response to E-government
(Wellington, New Zealand: State Services Commission, E-government Unit, 2004). Available
online at [Accessed 4 February 2008].
     8. See “Symposium on Federal Depository Libraries: Challenges and Opportunities for the
21st Century,” eds. John A. Shuler and Gary Cornwell, Government Information Quarterly 15, no.
1 (1998): 1–86.
     9. Judith Russell, “Future Directions of the Depository Library Program,” 142nd ARL Mem-
bership Meeting Federal Relations Luncheon (May 15, 2003). Available online at
resources/pubs/mmproceedings/142mmrussell~print.shtml. [Accessed 6 February 2008]. See also
Ted Priebe, Amy Welch, Marian MacGilvray, “The U.S. Government Printing Office’s Initiatives
for the Federal Depository Library Program to Set the Stage for the 21st Century,” Government
Information Quarterly 25 (2008): 48–56.
    10. Prudence S. Adler, “Rethinking the Federal Depository Library Program,” ARL: A Bimonthly
Report, no. 229 (Aug. 2003): 8. Available online at
shtml. [Accessed 22 March 2008]. The mean cost of being a depository library is $345,000; see [accessed March 22, 2008].
    11. Depository Library Council, “2021: A Depository Odyssey” (2006). Available online at [Accessed 1 August 2008].
    12. Amy Kohrman, “CLOCKSS Works,” Speaking of Computers: An E-newsletter for the Stanford
Academic Community 77 (Apr. 15, 2008). Available online at
CLOCKSS_Works.html. [Accessed 18 April 2008].
    13. Depository Library Council to the Public Printer, “Knowledge Will Forever Govern: A
Vision Statement for Federal Depository Libraries in the 21st Century” (2006). Available online
368 College & Research Libraries                                                           July 2009
at [Accessed 6 February 6, 2008].
    14. Depository Library Council to the Public Printer, “The Federal Government Information
Environment of the 21st Century: Towards a Vision Statement and Plan of Action for Federal
Depository Libraries—Discussion Paper” (Sept. 2005). Available online at
su_docs/fdlp/pubs/dlc_vision_09_02_2005.pdf. [Accessed 6 February 2008].
    15. Ibid. It should be noted that the estimate of 712,000 users does not correspond to the source
cited. That source estimates the number of users of academic and public depository libraries at
167,000 for a typical week (defined as a choice of selected weeks in the fall). The research design
does not permit conversion of a number into a monthly estimate. Therefore, the calculation that
yielded 712,000 has never been explained. Furthermore, the data were compiled in 1989, before
the introduction of e-government. See Charles McClure and Peter Hernon, Users of Academic and
Public GPO Depository Libraries (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1989), ix.
    16. The legal obligations of a depository library are specified in title 44, United States Code,
chapter 19, and in the Federal Depository Handbook, available online at
index.html [accessed 21 October 2008].
    17. Government Printing Office, Regional Depository Libraries in the 21st Century: A Time for
Change? (draft) (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 2008). Available online at
html. [Accessed 16 October 2008]. It should be noted that the survey highlighted in this report
took place at the same time we conducted the first set of interviews. Some directors mentioned
that survey during their interviews.
    18. Ibid., 10.
    19. Their remarks are largely found in documents available from the DLC and summaries of
ARL programs.
    20. Depository Library Council to the Public Printer, “The Federal Government Information
Environment of the 21st Century.”
    21. Joseph P. Martino, “The Precision of Delphi Estimates,” Technological Forecasting 1, no. 3
(1970): 293–99.
    22. Duane E. Webster, “Scenarios for Contemplating Research Library Futures,” reconceived
in July for use in the UCLA Senior Fellows Program (unpublished).
    23. Dana Mietzner and Guido Reger, “Advantages and Disadvantages of Scenario Approaches
for Strategic Foresight,” International Journal of Technology Intelligence and Planning 1, no. 2 (2005),
233. Available online at [Accessed 16
October 2008]. They also note the weaknesses in developing scenarios.
    24. One of the few relevant studies is Robert E. Dugan and Ellen M. Dodsworth, “Costing Out
a Depository Library: What Free Government Information?” Government Information Quarterly
11, no. 3 (1994): 261–84.
    25. The JCP based its decision not to support the memorandum of understanding based on an
interpretation provided by the CRS’s American Law Division. For a copy of that interpretation,
see Government Printing Office, Regional Depository Libraries in the 21st Century.
    26. GPO Access, “Authentication.” Available online at
index.html. [Accessed 8 April 2008].
    27. Peter Hernon and Rowena Cullen, “E-government: Transforming Government,” in Com-
parative Perspectives on E-government: Serving Today and Building for Tomorrow, ed. Peter Hernon,
Rowena Cullen, and Harold C. Relyea (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow press, 2006), 6.
                                      The Federal Depository Library Program in 2023 369

Appendix: Initial Set of Scenarios
One (Shifting Priorities)                              veloped by the private sector. As a depository,
The library no longer considers the resources          it gains no-fee access to such selected services
in the depository collection as critical to meet-      that federal agencies offer as data from the
ing its strategic directions. It is likely either to   National Weather Service.
withdraw from the program or to maintain a                 The primary motivations for pursuing this
very limited role, one that enables the library        scenario are a desire to expand the investment
to retain the resources in that collection (not        in government information resources (assum-
have to return them to the GPO). Either way, the       ing that the investment has been quantified)
collection, which will not add any more paper          beyond the equivalent of print publications;
copy to it, might be moved to another location         to advance research, teaching, and learning;
in the library and the freed-up space used for         to continue making an investment in informa-
other purposes. The general public service staff       tion technologies, ones that will enable the
will provide any needed information services           community served to take full advantage of
for government information. When such servic-          e-government offerings; and to offer more
es are inadequate, the university’s community          resources through the library’s homepage
will be referred to another depository library,        for remote access. There is recognition that
probably the nearest regional. In effect, the          knowledge creation may require an infusion of
library serves as a steward for the publications       varied offerings from government; thus, gov-
it already has or declines that role by removing       ernment information, mostly in digital form, is
itself from the depository program.                    a strategic resource for the library. Furthermore,
    The primary motivations for pursuing this          given e-government and the extent to which the
scenario are economics and space, staffing,            GPO disseminates titles to depository libraries
technology constraints, and the availability           digitally, the library wants to capture digital
of government resources readily through the            resources critical to the community it serves.
GPO’s portal, agency homepages, and deposi-
tory library Web sites. Increasingly, a number of      Three (Program Partner with the GPO)
library users prefer e-resources, and their use of     Building on the concept of a digital depository,
physical collections is declining. Cost-effective      the library enters into a formal partnership
use of central campus space makes storage of           with the GPO; typically, partnerships have
physical collections increasingly impractical.         been formed to provide either permanent
Operating costs, especially those relating to          public access to electronic content unavailable
staff, continue to be evaluated for savings and        on GPO Access (current or historical content)
efficiencies.                                          or new services to enhance the depository
                                                       program. Partnerships generally fall into three
Two (Digital Depository without                        categories:
Content Creation)                                          1. “Content partnerships. Participants agree
Because depository and other government                to provide storage capacity and user access
information resources are critical in meeting          without restrictions on redissemination. In the
the library’s strategic initiatives, the library       event that partner is no longer able to provide
provides a digital feed of government in-              free, public access to this electronic informa-
formation resources to its Web site, thereby           tion, the partnership requires the agency or
becoming a portal for access to e-government           library to transfer a copy of the content to the
information resources. The library receives,           GPO. The GPO will then make the content
but does not create, digital content. Character-       available either through GPO Access or in
ized as a digital depository, albeit one perhaps       cooperation with another partner.”
with a historical print collection—meaning                 2. “Service partnerships. Participants assist
it no longer selects any print or microfiche           the GPO to provide enhanced services… [to
publications, the library purchases digitized          users through] depository libraries. These part-
collections and indexing and search tools de-          nerships focus on repurposing GPO-provided
370 College & Research Libraries                                                             July 2009

information or on providing other services to        Four (Expanded Content Partner)
depository libraries and the public. These ser-      Building on the concept of a content partner,
vices may provide assistance to librarians with      the library collaborates with its (or the campus)
administering their depository collections.”         center for digital initiatives on projects to digitize
    3. “Hybrid partnerships. These partnerships      current and historical collections of government
are a mixture of content and service partner-        information resources in varied print and non-
ships. For example, providing permanent              print formats. Content is preserved and offered
public access to electronic government infor-        to the communities served by more than the
mation and offering a service important to the       local institution. Through the center, the library
administration of the depository collection or       digitizes government information resources for
program” (see             faculty use in their classes (placing content on
about.html).                                         course management software) and perhaps cre-
    The goal is to be of assistance to users of      ates fee-based services for its clientele outside the
your and other depository collections as well        institution. Thus, this scenario involves extensive
as users of nondepository collections.               efforts to raise the necessary resources to create
    The documents staff, together with other         collaborative projects that benefit the institution’s
librarians engaged in the information literacy       faculty and the depository program itself. As one
program, assume an expanded instructional            value-added service for its community of users
role (full integration with the library’s informa-   as well as those of other depositories, the library
tion literacy program). Depository services,         manipulates government datasets, perhaps on a
as a result, are linked to the library’s general     fee basis, through geographic information sys-
effort to assess student learning outcomes at        tems (GISs), to create new data and information.
an institutional or program level. The purpose           The library also creates an equivalent of
is to measure changes in students themselves         JSTOR, an archive of digital resources in se-
brought about by their college experience and        quential order for which the library offers the
exposure to the library and its vast resources,      entire set. The library’s official designation
including those offered by government.               as a member of the GPO depository library
    The primary motivations for pursuing this        program becomes moot; in effect, the library
scenario are a desire to expand the investment       functions as a government information archive
in government information resources (assum-          and access center.
ing that the investment has been quantified)             The primary motivations for pursuing this
beyond the equivalent of print publications;         scenario are a desire to expand the investment
to advance research, teaching, and learning;         in government information resources (assuming
to continue making an investment in infor-           that the investment has been quantified) beyond
mation technologies, ones that will enable           the equivalent of print publications; to advance
the community served to take full advantage          research, teaching, and learning; to continue
of e-government offerings; and to offer more         making an investment in information tech-
resources through the library’s homepage for         nologies, ones that will enable the community
remote access. There is recognition that knowl-      served to take full advantage of e-government
edge creation may require an infusion of varied      offerings; and to offer more resources through
offerings from government; thus, government          the library’s homepage for remote access. There
information, mostly in digital form, is a strate-    is recognition that knowledge creation may
gic resource for the library.                        require an infusion of varied offerings from gov-
    The library is a community repository and        ernment; thus, government information, mostly
digital archives for other libraries. In sum-        in digital form, is a strategic resource for the
mary, given the extent of document availability      library. Given the application of e-government
through e-government, the library wants to           and the extent to which the GPO disseminates
capture digital resources for its community,         titles to depository libraries digitally, the library
to assist other libraries in introducing new         also wants to capture digital resources for its
services, and to be involved in a formal partner-    community and to assist other depository librar-
ship relationship.                                   ies in introducing new services.

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