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Finding Government Documents

Guide to finding U.S., State, and United Nations documents in Vassar's collection and on the web.

Collection Development Policy

Government Documents Collection Development Policy – 2015

Mission

Vassar College Libraries has been a selective federal depository library since 1943, providing free access to U.S. government documents and serving the informational needs of both the Vassar College community and the 18th Federal Congressional District, which includes the metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas of Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, and Middletown.    The interests of the area are as far reaching as the variety of living and working environments would indicate. Information interests from farming to business to academic subjects must be supported in the collection.

Selection Responsibility

Selection of government documents and supporting materials is made by the Assistant Director of the Libraries for Collection Development in close collaboration with the Depository staff, the Research Librarians, other librarians, and faculty.  

Subject Areas

In accordance with the Instructions to Depository Libraries and Guidelines for the Depository Library System, the U.S. document collection development is based upon the “Suggested Core Collections.” Additional selections are made to support instructional requirements of Vassar College and community interests.

Traditionally and currently our collection strengths include the Bureau of the Census, Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of State, the Department of Labor, the Executive Office of the President of the U.S., USGS Geological Survey, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Collection Arrangement

90% of the U.S. government document collection is arranged in the Superintendent of Documents classification system.  Guides to the classification system are posted throughout the collection and online (http://library.vassar.edu/research/govdocs/sudocs.html).  The documents are shelved in the Van Ingen Building.  A few titles are shelved in the Reference collection and given an LC call number; about 10% of the titles had been classed in Dewey, but have recently been re-classed into LC or SuDoc and shelved with the main collection, the off-site Storage facility, or with the rest of the government document collection.

The preferred selection format is digital, based on availability.  Certain key titles are selected in paper or microfiche format.  Access to online government documents is freely available to anyone in the building, and appropriate equipment with printing, scanning, and emailing capabilities, is also freely available for titles in microfiche.  

Selection Tools

Suggested Core Collection

Govdoc-l

Marcive profile

new titles announced on FDLP website

patron requests

Collection Evaluation

On an as-needed basis, librarians review the selected Item numbers and consult with faculty and other stakeholders when appropriate.  Each year before the annual selection cycle, the Documents Staff, in consultation with the Assistant Director of the Libraries for Collection Development,  reviews a section of the List of Classes for additions or deletions.

Weeding and Maintenance

The collection is maintained in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Instructions to Depository Libraries.

Outdated material and duplicated information are withdrawn from the collection after five years on a continuing basis.  Periodically, for pieces which are not longer relevant to the collection or that are little used, a more in-depth review of the collection is done by the Documents Staff and the Assistant Director of the Libraries for Collection Development.

Preservation, binding, and replacement of documents follow the Vassar College Libraries’ policies.

Access

The federal and state document collections of Vassar College Libraries are open to the general public for free in-house use as mandated by the N.Y. and U.S. Depository Programs.  The Vassar College Libraries Catalog is available on the web.  Reference service is provided during daytime library hours.  The library provides basic guides for using and Finding Government Documents and a Guide to Sources of U.S. Law.  The library purchases a wide range of essential research tools for accessing the governmental publications, all of which are available to the general public when they are in the library.

Depository items may be circulated to patrons holding a valid Vassar ID.  Paper documents (except USGS Geological Survey Maps and Reference titles) are available on Interlibrary Loan.

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