First digital library from GPO depository program goes live in North Dakota


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After decades of providing physical documents to local and university libraries as a part of its federal depository library program, the Government Printing Office is making the move to digital-only at one federal depository library.

2014_09_Screen-Shot-2014-09-08-at-12.27.01-PM Credit: Wikimedia

The library, part of North Dakota’s Sitting Bull College servicing the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation community, “is opting to meet their community’s needs by developing an online government information collection,” a release from the GPO said. “In choosing this format, the library will not receive print materials from GPO.”

The federal depository library program (FDLP) requires selected libraries to provide free access to collections of federal documents to the public. If the selected library is part of an academic institution, the library is still required to offer access to the general public. At Sitting Bull College, the library serves students, faculty and staff of the college as well as community members in the Standing Rock community.

Federal depository libraries have been around since the early 19th century, established by a joint congressional resolution. However, the Sitting Bull College depository is just the first of the more than 1,200 federal depository libraries to go solely digital with its federal documents.

“GPO welcomes Sitting Bull College Library into the FDLP,” public printer Davita Vance-Cooks said in a release. “As GPO continues to transform by providing information in digital formats, we are pleased to partner with the library community to expand access to government in their communities.”

Federal documents from agencies and all three branches of government are also available to the public for free online through GPO’s Federal Digital System, according to the release.

In order to become a part of the GPO’s FDLP, a library must be able to provide custody and service for materials and be located in an area not already serviced by another FDLP, according to the GPO’s handbook for libraries on becoming a member. Every two years, a FDLP member must report to GPO on the status of the documents in its collection. In the case of the North Dakota library, without physical documents, this reporting requirement may not be necessary.

Sitting Bull College’s librarian, Mark Holman, could not be reached for comment by publication time.

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