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Federal Government Information

About the Federal Documents Collection


Arizona State University Libraries Federal Documents Collection and Service Policy


The Library of Arizona State University received Senate designation as a selective federal depository in 1944. The depository functions under the federal provisions of 44 USC 1901-1916 and participates with other Arizona depositories following the “Arizona State Plan for Federal Depository Service.” Government Documents Service, housing the depository library, is located in Hayden Library, one of the University Libraries on the ASU Tempe campus in Tempe, Arizona. The Department follows all University Libraries policies and procedures, unless in conflict with the Federal requirements for depository libraries. The Department acts as a library within a library, specializing in governmental publishers, rather than one subject area. In addition to publications of the U. S. federal government, the collection includes publications from Arizona State government agencies, Arizona local government entities, and the United Nations. These are discussed in separate collection policies.


Government Documents Service follows the mission of the University Libraries by providing access to materials and information for the students, staff, and faculty of Arizona State University. As a federal depository, the Department also provides this access to the community at large. The depository selects, acquires, organizes, and preserves publications of the U.S. Government, thus supporting the current and anticipated instructional, research and service programs of the University and providing for the needs of the community at large. As in the larger library system, the depository serves users by interpreting and instructing them in the effective utilization of a variety of knowledge systems.


Primary clientele are the students, faculty, and staff of Arizona State University, which is classified in the Research/Doctoral Universities-Extensive category. ASU is the largest university in Arizona, graduating over 17,000 students each year. The 2011 enrollment is over 67,000. The student body represents all 50 states and over 120 countries. In addition to 250 Undergraduate programs, the Libraries support 91 Master’s degree programs and 49 doctoral programs.

ASU is located in the 5st Congressional District with a Census 2010 population of 656,833. As part of the largest research library in the area, the depository also provides service to the greater Maricopa County area. Census 2010 shows the county population as 3,817,117 with a median age of 34.6, and a median household income of $55,054.

A third group of clientele is represented by other depository libraries in the state with which we interact in terms of reciprocal training, depository promotion, interlibrary loan, document replacement, and a needs and offers exchange program.


Subject Scope

The collection is as comprehensive as possible in the areas needed for academic teaching and research, both current and anticipated. The scope of government publications ranges from arts and humanities to highly technical research reports. Strong emphasis is placed on materials in the areas of:

1.     Statistics, economic and social.

2.     Energy research, emphasizing alternative energy sources.

3.     Congressional documents, both retrospective and current.

4.     All materials dealing with Arizona and the Southwest, including such publications as housing data, weather records, the environment, economics, water quality and supply, geological reports, and vital and demographic statistics.

While recognizing considerable variations in publishing activity by government agencies according to subjects, all academic programs and needs of the University are supported within the collection. The collection also supports the administrative needs of the University by providing information on research grants and contracts, agency rules and regulations governing such programs, and statistical data used for support or emphasis in University administrative actions.

While no specific items are selected for the community at large or non-academic community, the broad scope of the ASU collection frequently meets the needs of that user group. As the major research library in the area, the collections are often the primary resource for government and private use.

Chronological Guidelines

Although Arizona State University became a selective depository in 1944, there are no chronological boundaries for the depository collection. The collection extends from 1789 to the present through the purchase of retrospective microform sets and the acquisition of materials through gifts and exchange programs.


The major language of the collection is English; other languages included in the collection are mainly Spanish and Native American languages. Materials in other languages sent on deposit are added; material is not excluded because of language. For example, publications in Braille are part of the depository collection and are not sent to the ADA unit.

Geographical Guidelines

Coverage is primarily national. In selected series where individual state data and U. S. summary data are distributed, e.g., “Water Resources Development in [state]”, usually states west of the Mississippi are selected. World data, international studies, and foreign economic, political, and demographic studies distributed via depository are added.

Types and Format

All types of material are accepted: Monographs, series, periodicals, bibliographies, indices, catalogs, etc. While electronic (digital) format is the current norm, other formats (paper, microfiche, microfilm, videocassettes, computer disks, CD-ROM, DVD, and maps) continue to be added, and these physical formats make up the bulk of the collection.

Microform collections are:

1.     Purchased as permanent replacements for certain voluminous paper titles received on depository, e.g., Congressional RecordFederal Register.

2.     Purchased for materials that are closely indexed (item, volume, page number), are of great value to the collection, and are available as a set, e.g., CIS Index/Microfiche CollectionASI Non-Depository Microfiche.

3.     Purchased when the original set is rare, extremely expensive, or not available, e.g., Non-Decennial Census Publications 1820-1945Executive Branch Documents 1789-1909.

Electronic information products are selected, retained, and circulated following the general collection policies of the Department, i.e., subject content over item format.

1.     Computer disks: If received with a print publication, these are shelved with the publication.

2.     CD-ROM and DVD products: The Department will provide public workstations for the use of these products if the required software is available. Most products may circulate. The Department also burns non-copyright disks for patrons on request.

3.     Computer tapes: The Department does not acquire computer tapes, but may collect available technical documentation for government tapes housed at ASU through the State Data Center.

4.     Online computer databases: The Libraries subscribe to appropriate databases as need and funding allow. As of 2012, commercial databases specific to government information include:

a.     ProQuest Congressional, 1789-present

                               i.        Serial Set including Maps (1789-1969)

                              ii.        Congressional Record & Predecessors (1789-1997)

                             iii.        House and Senate Reports and Documents (1817-present)

                             iv.        Hearings (1824-present)

                              v.        Committee Prints and Miscellaneous Publications (1830-present)

                             vi.        CRS Reports (1916-present)

                            vii.        Legislative Histories (1969-present)

b.    CQ Library

c.     Declassified Documents Reference System-U.S., (1941-1992)

d.    World News Connection, Foreign Broadcast Information Service (1994-present)

e.     Hein-On-Line: The Modern Link to Legal History, (19th Century-present)

f.     ProQuest Statistical Insight, (1971-present)

5.     Internet sources: The Department provides free public access to the Internet at our public terminal. A depository computer terminal is also available for use during reference hours. Certain government Internet sites are listed as research databases in the Online Catalog, e.g., Homeland Security Digital Library and the Catalog of Government Publications. This Library Guide provides direct links to many federal web sites. Catalog records for federal publications that are also available on the Internet contain active links.


The Government Information Librarian is responsible for selecting and deselecting depository items as well as developing the non-depository and commercial components of Government Documents Service. Other librarians and faculty may be consulted in collection decision processes. Currently, the selection rate for the library is 93%. Currently, all electronic (EL) publications are selected regardless of content. MARCIVE labels and electronic records are used to ensure catalog records in ASU Online Catalog for tangible and electronic publications.

Non-depository government publications are an important part of the collection. The Libraries subscribe to the commercially-produced ASI Non-Depository Microfiche collection. The Department maintains deposit accounts with the Government Printing Office and the National Technical Information Service for the purchase of government publications that may not be otherwise available. Finally, the Department contacts agencies directly to receive materials not available from GPO.


In keeping with the research focus of the University Libraries, certain items are not selected. Also, because of physical location, certain items are selected but housed elsewhere.

1.     Maps: All sheet maps are sent directly to the Map Collection, except those used with accompanying text or tables, e.g., Census Block Statistics used with Census Metropolitan Map Series. Atlases, unless needed for reference purposes by another department, are housed and maintained as other materials in the Department.

2.     Administrative documents: Unless useful for research or to support the administrative needs of the University, federal administrative documents are not selected, e.g., Qualified Products List, Master Cross Reference ListFederal Specifications.

3.     Posters and general advertising brochures are not selected or maintained.

4.     Forms are not selected, collected, nor distributed, e.g., copyright registration forms, income tax forms, etc.

Duplication of Materials

All  government documents are housed and serviced in Government Documents Service. Only duplicate documents needed as reference sources in a separate reference location, after consultation with the Government Information Librarian, will be cataloged and shelved at that reference point. Documents are not cataloged for, nor shelved in, the Libraries’ general stacks.

1.     Selected reference works produced by the U. S. Government and of widespread use may be duplicated if funding allows, e.g., Statistical Abstract of the U.S.

2.     Depository reference works that index or abstract non-government materials and are not needed for access or use of the depository collection may be cataloged and shelved in a separate reference point, e.g., LC Classification Manual.

3.     Materials that are heavily used within the Department may be duplicated as use indicates and if funds are available, e.g., Arizona Census materials.

4.     Materials used for Course Resources may be duplicated if the demand is high, or if the items are also needed for reference use in the Documents area.

5.     If duplicate federal materials are considered for weeding or storage from other locations, the final decision rests with the Government Information Librarian.

Maintenance, Weeding, and Preservation

The Depository is managed according to the guidelines published by the GPO in Instructions to Depository Libraries for processing and maintenance. Damaged or missing items may be replaced when possible through gifts and exchange lists, and photo reproduction.

Weeding is irregular. The collection is maintained as an archival, research collection. Publications are not automatically withdrawn after five years as permitted for selective depositories; additionally, superseded documents may be retained depending on research potential.

The Department works closely with the Libraries’ Preservation Department in a regular program of binding, repair, and appropriate preservation/conservation actions. The standards applied to the general collection are also used for the depository collection. The Government Information Librarian, in consultation with the Head of Preservation will review rare and endangered materials. Appropriate conservation procedures may be applied; housing within Special Collections is sought when appropriate.


Policy accepted, 1980
Revisions: 1995; 2001, 2009, 2012

The ASU Library acknowledges the twenty-three Native Nations that have inhabited this land for centuries. Arizona State University's four campuses are located in the Salt River Valley on ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples, including the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) Indian Communities, whose care and keeping of these lands allows us to be here today. ASU Library acknowledges the sovereignty of these nations and seeks to foster an environment of success and possibility for Native American students and patrons. We are advocates for the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge systems and research methodologies within contemporary library practice. ASU Library welcomes members of the Akimel O’odham and Pee Posh, and all Native nations to the Library.