Collins Memorial Library

Federal Documents


The planned development of the Federal Documents Collections requires a stated policy. However, it is recognized that no policy statement can be, or should be, definitive for all time, since the library and the university are dynamic organizations undergoing constant change. Therefore, this policy is intended to serve as a guideline for the methodical and judicious development of the Federal Documents Collection.


The library has been a partial depository of publications distributed by the Superintendent of Documents since 1938. Materials are selected on the basis of instructional and research needs of the university's academic program. In addition, consideration is given to the local community under the terms of the depository law (Title 44, US Code). The library maintains long runs of Census materials for historical interest, selects general military publications to support McChord Air Force Base and Fort Lewis personnel, collects core selective documents for the Small Business Administrations to meet the needs of local businesses, and carries publications of general interest to the consumer. Community needs not supported by the library may be obtained at the Washington State Library, which has been designated as a Regional Depository and consequently receives all depository publications.

The Federal Documents Collection is regarded as a valuable and necessary part of the library's collection. In addition to providing a primary current and historical record of the political workings of the federal government, the government publication collection is relied upon as a primary record of national statute, code, regulation, and an amalgamation of statistical data. The Federal Documents Collection also provides, in itself, a valuable secondary resource which addresses many topics of interest about the federal government, both in and out of the political sphere, thereby supplementing the library's general collection in these areas.

Classification and Organization of the Collection

Government Publications are maintained in a separate collection organized by the Superintendent of Documents Classification System. Some publications, however, are treated by other methods to facilitate use. These include the following:

  • Reference Materials
    Government publications that have reference value, such as statistical compendia, directories, and fact books, will be cataloged and shelved in the reference stacks. The selection and disposition of such materials will be at the discretion of the documents librarian in consultation with the reference staff.
  • Monographs and Serials
    Selected monographs and serials in high demand will be incorporated into the general collection. The selection and disposition of such material will be at the discretion of the document librarian.
  • Maps
    As part of a cooperative arrangement, the library sends topographical maps to the university's geology department library. Other maps of a general nature are housed in the reference room map file.

Selection of U.S. Government Publications
The documents librarian has the primary responsibility for selecting depository items, as in accordance with the Guidelines for the Depository Library System. These publications will be selected on the bases of the instructional and research needs of the university and the local community and will be acquired either through direct purchase or as depository items from the federal government. In building its documents collection, the library cooperates with the Seattle University Law Library, a selected U.S. Government Depository. The library also takes into consideration the items selected by the Tacoma Public Library.

Suggestions as to items which might be added to the library's item list are welcome for the university community and the general community. Requests will be reviewed by the documents librarian. They may be purchased at the time of the request or selected during the annual update if deemed appropriate. Any depository publication not held by the library may be borrowed through interlibrary loan.

In accordance with Guidelines for the Depository Library Systems, the library maintains a basic collection available for immediate use consisting of the core titles specified.

General Collection Guidelines

English is the primary language collected.

Chronological Periods
No restrictions

Geographical Guidelines
U.S. federal imprints, with emphasis given to publications covering the Pacific Northwest.

Types of Materials

  • Microforms
    Microforms are the preferred format for items of marginal utility.
  • Technical Reports/Manuals
    Outside the scope of the collection and are not selected.
  • Patents
    Outside the scope of the collection and are not selected.
  • Maps and Atlases
    Selectively collected
  • Posters
    Selectively collected
    Selectively collected; hardware and software support are prime considerations.

Publication Date

Primary current imprints with some retrospective collecting.



Unsolicited gifts and mailings from various congressional offices or friends of the university will be reviewed and added at the discretion of the documents librarian.

Multiple Copies

In general, only one copy of each title will be retained.

Lost Items

In accordance with Guidelines for the Depository Library System, lost depository materials will be replaced by ordering copies from GPO. If an item is not in print, it may be considered for replacement by purchase on the out-of-print market, obtained on interlibrary loan and copied, or placed on the Needs and Offers List.

Other Considerations

The library will acquire and maintain commercially published guides, indexes, and catalogs, both retrospective and current, for the effective use of the government publication collection. Selected sources include CIS/Index, ASI/Index, PAIS, Guide to US Government Publications, U.S. Government Periodicals Index and Marcive's GPO/Cat on CD-ROM. Other titles may be found in the Federal Depository Library Manual. In addition, on-line access to commercial databases will be provided at the discretion of the reference librarians.

Collection Levels by United States Government Agency

Agency Level*
Agriculture (A)
Archives (AE)
Civil Rights Commission (CR)
Congress (C) C
Defense (D)  E
Eduction (ED)
Energy (E)
Environmental Protection (EPA)
Executive Office of the President (PrEx)
Farm Credit (FCA)
Federal Communciations Commission (FCC) 
Federal Emergency Management (FEM) 
Federal Housing Finance (FHF)
Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) O
Federal Mediation (FM) C
Federal Reserve (FR) E
Federal Trade Commission
Fine Art (FA) A
Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ)
General Accounting Office (GA) D
General Services (GS) E
Government Printing Office (GP)
Health & Human Service (HE)
Housing and Urban Development (HH)
Information Agency (IA)
Interior (I)
International Trade Commission (ITC, TC) D
Interstate Commerce (IC) E
Judiciary (JU) D
Justice (J) B
Labor (L)
Labor Relations (LR)
Library of Congress (LC) C
Merit Systems Protection Board (MS) D
National Aeronautics & Space (NAS) D
National Credit Union (NCU) E
National Foundation on the Arts & Humanities (NF)
National Mediation Board (NMB)
National Science Foundation (NS) B
Overseas Private Investment (OP)
Peace Corps (PE)
Personnel Management (PM)
Postal Service (P)
President (PR)
Railroad Retirement (RR) O
Securities & Exchange Commission (SE)
Smithsonian (SI)
Small Business Administration (SBA)
State (S)
Transportation (TD)
Treasury (T)
Veteran's Administration (VA)

Note: See Appendix D for explanation of level designations

Withdrawal of Items from the Collection

In order to insure that the Federal Documents Collection remains actively responsive to the needs of the university, all selections in the current active item list will be reviewed once a year (usually during the summer). The decision to cancel publications from the list will be made by the documents librarian, liaison librarians and faculty as deemed appropriate.

Withdrawal of items from the library's government publication collection will be done in accordance with Instructions to Depository Libraries. Items must be retained for at least five years form their date of receipt before they may be withdrawn.

Superseded material shall be withdrawn at the discretion of the documents librarian in accordance with Instructions to Depository Libraries.

Revision of Collection Development Policy

This collection development policy will be reviewed periodically and appropriately amended to be in accordance with the update of Instructions for Depository Libraries.