Federal Documents

Mission Statement

Florida Atlantic University was established by the Florida Legislature in 1961 as part of the State University System, admitting its first students in 1964. It is committed through its distributed campus structure to providing access to challenging opportunities in higher education for students in Southeast Florida and beyond.

The Florida Atlantic University Libraries' Mission Statement declares that the Libraries are to promote the academic goals of the University by serving a uniquely diverse community through academic and personal development, discovery, lifelong learning, excellence, and innovation.  The Libraries fulfill their mission by providing access to collections and services, building a rich resource of research materials, promoting a dynamic and multifaceted information literacy program, maintaining a dialogue with the scholarly community, developing creative programming, encouraging public engagement, and forming cultural alliances. The Mission Statement of the Libraries serves as the Mission Statement of the Government Documents Department.

The Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton Campus Library was designated a federal depository library in 1963 to serve what is now the 22nd Congressional District. The Government Documents Department is committed to providing free and open public access to government information provided through the federal and state depository programs. The Federal Depository Library Program was established to assist Congress in fulfilling its responsibility to inform the public on the policies and programs of the federal government. The Instructions to Depository Libraries states that "the Government information needs of the general public must influence the collection development of depository libraries." The federal documents collection in the Florida Atlantic University S.E. Wimberly Library serves not only its students, staff, faculty and the 19th Congressional district, but also cooperates with other depository libraries in the region to serve the larger area of counties that are in the Florida Atlantic University service area.

The 22nd Congressional District falls into two counties: Broward and Palm Beach. Profiles of each county, the university community, the population of the 22nd Congressional District, and economic information about the communities served are available in the Government Documents office. These profiles are reviewed by the Government Documents Librarian on a regular basis to ensure that depository materials are selected to serve the interests and needs of the population.

Selection Responsibility:

Selection of government documents and supporting materials is the responsibility of the Government Documents Librarian in consultation with librarians from the Florida Atlantic University's Collection Development Committee and in coordination with librarians from both the SEFLIN Government Documents Discussion Group and other SUS Government Documents Departments.

Other librarians, including those representing non-depository libraries, are consulted on a less frequent basis. Faculty of the institution may be consulted for retention or evaluation of specialized publications. Questions that have been asked during the previous year are examined as a part of the zero-based annual review of the List of Item Selections (e.g. number and type of questions concerning highway engineering or soil documents). The written Government Documents Collection Development Policy is reviewed annually by the Government Documents Librarian at the same time.

Subject Areas and Collection Arrangement:

The federal documents collection is arranged by the Superintendent of Documents classification system. Selected series in law, taxation and geology have been reclassified into the Library of Congress system. The legal and tax materials are integrated with other legal and tax materials in the Reference Collection and the geology documents are integrated into the circulating collection. Since agencies/departments cover a wide variety of subjects and a wide variety of publication types, the Government Documents Collection Conspectus profile is based on the List of Classes. General selections of types of publications are described in more detail under Format.


All publications are selected in the appropriate/available format considering content, usage, service, and storage. Formats include paper, microforms, maps, and electronic products. Paper copies are often obtained since they are more easily used by the general public and the predominately commuter student body. However, due to space limitations microfiche is sometimes selected when feasible. The availability within the library of numerous microform reader/printers enhances the selection of this format. FAU Libraries provide full text access to Congressional hearings and reports through the purchase of a commercially available online database. However, due to the importance and high demand of these items, backup copies of recent Congressional hearings and reports are collected in microfiche. Careful attention is given to selection or non-selection of publications offered in loose-leaf format since availability of main volumes, staff filing time, and missing transmittals must be considered. Tangible electronic products are selected with attention given to subject content, ease of use, capability of staff to provide service, required equipment as well as interest/demand of the constituents of the 19th Congressional district. Consideration is also given to selection of a tangible electronic product by nearby federal depository libraries. The Government Documents Department and the Library provide Internet access to all library users including the general public. Since federal documents bibliographic records are in the Library's online public access catalog, links to government publications on the Internet are identified where present in the bibliographic record and reflect the selections of those publications offered by the U.S. Government Printing Office.

Because of issues concerning currency, space, liability, and accuracy, the following types of documents are generally not selected:

  • Posters
  • Dated calendars
  • Forms
  • Agency issued rules, regulations, instructions, laws
  • Navigational charts
  • Telephone directories

The availability of many forms, rules, regulations, and laws on the Internet has facilitated the Government Documents Department in providing these materials online without regard to space and currency issues. Care is taken to obtain the information only from reputable government sites.

The Government Documents Department has been able to purchase several retrospective collections of government documents in microform. These collections include materials from the early 1800's. With the availability of these microform collections, scholars and the general public have access to a vast array of information.

Selection Tools, Non-Depository, Retrospective Sources:

The Government Documents Department currently selects approximately 73% of the materials distributed through the Federal Depository Library Program. This percentage will have minor fluctuations due to new item numbers and the changing informational needs of the community. Retrospective collection development relies on commercially available materials and discard lists from depository libraries. Online digitized versions of older materials may sometimes be located and links to these resources will be placed on the Government Documents web site. Purchases of commercially available retrospective or current supplementary collections, either in print or online, are encouraged but dependent upon available funding. Selections from discards lists are made in order to replace non-received or missing publications. They may also be made for retrospective development of areas where an available item number had not been selected.

Item numbers selections are primarily based on the following considerations:

  • Support for the inquiries/informational needs of the general public;
  • Support for the university's academic programs;
  • Accessibility within the southeast Florida region among other depository libraries;
  • Fulfillment of responsibility to keep citizens informed;
  • Support of the library for staff, space, and equipment.

Included in the selection process are the following publications and web sites:


  • List of Classes of U.S. Government Publications
  • Item Lister (at the GPO Web site)
  • Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program (June 2011)
  • WEB Tech Notes (at the GPO Web site)
  • Federal Depository Library Manual Appendix A: Suggested Core Collection Annotated for Medium Public and Academic Libraries and for All Law Libraries
  • Federal Depository Library Manual Appendix C: Basic Collection
  • Federal Depository Library Manual Appendix B: Maps Available for Selection
  • Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP)
  • Sales Product Catalog (at the GPO web site)
  • Information in U.S. Government publications
  • Consumer Information Catalog
  • Shipping lists


  • MAPS-L
  • DTTP: Documents to the People
  • Documents Data Miner
  • Professional journals
  • University/commercial publishers
  • Catalogs
  • Commercial database vendors
  • Local/National newspapers/television programs
  • Patrons
  • Interlibrary Loan requests
  • MANGO (SUS online public access catalog)
  • SEFLIN Government Documents Committee

As suggested in the FDLP Handbook (5.4 Dissemination of Electronic Online Titles), the Government Documents Department will often add item numbers from electronic only titles to its selection profile. Access to these titles is provided via Persistent Uniform Resources Locator (PURL) included in the Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC) records available in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP). A list of new electronic only titles is also posted weekly with cumulative monthly lists.

Because of heavy demand, duplicate copies in electronic format are made available through the Department's web site for the following titles:

  • Occupational Outlook Handbook
  • U.S. Industry and Trade Outlook
  • North American Industry Classification System
  • Statistical Abstract of the United States
  • County City Data Book

Resource Sharing:

The Government Documents Department actively works with neighboring depositories and libraries to facilitate use of both Federal and State Documents Collections. Since the Florida Atlantic University Library is a member of SEFLIN (Southeast Florida Library Information Network), our cooperation with other federal depositories has been greatly facilitated.

Though all depository libraries have a responsibility to serve their respective congressional districts and surrounding communities, the Government Documents Department of Florida Atlantic University attempts to coordinate selections with the other depositories in the region in order to provide as complete access as possible to publications offered through the depository program. This cooperative effort is enhanced by a daily courier service within the SEFLIN libraries, by the presence of telefacsimile machines, microfiche printers, e-mail and telephone access.

The Government Documents Department, through the cooperative efforts of the Florida Shines, maintains a current subscription with Marcive to have bibliographic records of federal depository government publications automatically loaded into the library's online public access catalog MANGO. The department has also tape loaded available retrospective records.

Depository library users can identify documents received by neighboring libraries and other State University Libraries (including that of the regional) through SEFLIN and MANGO. Serials of libraries in the vicinity can be identified in OCLC WorldCat. Through e-mail and the FLADOCS-L online discussion list, needed documents can quickly be requested within the state. Florida Atlantic University Library has a number of regional reciprocal borrowing agreements and is also a member of FLIN (Florida Library Information Network) which facilitates interlibrary loan cooperation within the state.

Collection Evaluation:

Using the April arrival of the annual List of Item Selections as a catalyst, the Government Documents Librarian uses a copy of the March List of Classes for an annual zero-based collection review. The Government Documents Librarian reviews a file of a sampling of reference questions received over the previous year to reveal any patterns of user needs that the current collection does not satisfy. Government Documents Department staff, the Head of the Reference Department and Reference Bibliographers are consulted for any profile changes. Statistics are kept on the reshelving of paper documents, microform documents, non-depository microforms, maps, CD-ROMs, and DVDs. A sampling of documents shared among other document depositories is also reviewed.

The Library periodically conducts user surveys for accreditation requirements which are reviewed for documents related comments. It also reviews the recommended or outstanding government documents lists which appear in periodicals or books.

Weeding and Maintenance:

Federal depository materials may be withdrawn after five years, with the approval of the regional depository, after being offered to other libraries in the region. Since Florida Atlantic University is currently the only federal depository library in Palm Beach County, removal of documents from the collection is carefully considered. A conservative rate of withdrawal provides a useful collection along with the historical preservation of information. Badly damaged or brittle documents are candidates for weeding or replacement if these publications cannot be preserved. They are examined by the Technical Services Department which is responsible for preservation of library materials in-house. Worn documents are evaluated by the Government Documents Librarian for replacement or withdrawal. Tangible materials that are readily available in electronic format or which have been purchased from a commercial vendor are also candidates for weeding. Examination of the collection for weeding and maintenance is an ongoing process.

Superseded documents are withdrawn according to the Superseded List and its updates in WEB Tech Notes.

The Government Documents Department places selected older materials in Hollinger boxes (i.e. non-acidic) when appropriate so as to impede deterioration and damage. Princeton files are regularly purchased, depending upon available funds, to protect documents. The collection is continuously monitored for expansion or shifting to allow for growth and prevent overcrowding on shelves.

Map cases are purchased to accommodate proper housing of sheet maps. Maps arriving in manila envelopes are placed in file cabinets for better maintenance. Oversized materials are separated from regular documents for special shelving. This will protect them and provide more cost-efficient shelving for the collection. Blocks or dummies are placed in their places identifying their location. Binders are regularly purchased for selected documents to protect them on the shelves. Binding of selected periodicals is done on a regular basis in conjunction with the commercially purchased serials. The Technical Services Department's binding unit maintains a file of government periodicals to "pull" for binding. Selected monographs are also identified for commercial binding on a case by case basis by the Government Documents Librarian. Repairs are handled either in the Government Documents Department or in the Technical Services Department.


The Government Documents Department is conveniently located on the first floor west wing of the S.E. Wimberly Library directly opposite and in full view of the main entrance to the library. Print documents are housed here as well as the microfiche collection which is received through the depository program along with commercially purchased microfiche collections that supplement and enhance the federal collection. Maps in the Documents Collection are housed in the east wing of the first floor. Depository documents are available for in-house use to all patrons.

Circulation privileges are limited to those with valid Florida Atlantic University, SUS, SEFLIN, or Sunshine library cards and, under special circumstances, to the general public. The Department fills Intralibrary Loan requests to our branch campus libraries. It also lends documents through the Interlibrary Loan Service to non-affiliated patrons who wish to borrow them.

The Government Documents Department is committed to the principals of the Federal Depository Library Program. Should the department be unable to readily obtain/provide a document not received in the program, the department will provide the patron bibliographic information and referral to an appropriate source. This may include referring the patron to an affiliated library for Interlibrary Loan Service.

The Government Documents Department selects the publications listed as the "Basic Collection" (5.6 FDLP Handbook). It also receives the majority of the publications identified in the "Suggested Core Collection" (5.7 FDLP Handbook) list appropriate for academic libraries.

Publications in heavy demand may be placed on Reserve at the Circulation desk and made available to all. A flyer is then placed with each document on Reserve to remind staff and the public of their availability without restriction. The library provides equipment for reading and printing microforms as well as change and copy card machines for photocopiers. Interlibrary Loan may be used to obtain copies from other libraries.

The library also provides facilities for reading, printing or downloading from DVDs and CD-ROMs received through the depository program. If the necessary software or equipment is not available onsite, the Government Documents Department will arrange to loan the electronic product.  Electronic products circulate with the patron assuming responsibility if they are lost or damaged.

The Florida Atlantic University Library's commitment to access to federal documents is demonstrated by:

  1.  Posting of the federal depository library logo at the library entrance and on the Government Documents web site;
  2.  Inclusion of a Government Documents selection option on the library's OPAC and a government documents section on the library's web site;
  3.  Inclusion of Government Documents in the library bibliographic instruction program (general and specialized);
  4.  Open stack access to the depository collection;
  5.  Presence of the Marcive records in the library's online public access catalog (MANGO);
  6.  The provision of additional access to federal government information to supplement materials received via the depository program including the following:
    •  OCLC GPO Monthly Catalog (database)
    •  ProQuest Congressional (database)
    •  ProQuest Congressional Hearings (database)
    •  ProQuest U.S. Serial Set Digital Collection (database)
    •  CQ Weekly and CQ Researcher (databases)
    •  Homeland Security Digital Library (web site)
    •  National Journal (web site)
    •  Open CRS (web site)
    •  United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (journal)
    •  OECD iLibrary (database
    •  Campus Research: Law (database)
  7.  The arrangement of documents by SUDOC classification number in a separate and easily identifiable collection, except for a few titles (primarily legal) that are more useful in the Reference or General Collections;
  8.  The provision of reference assistance for federal documents by all reference desk personnel in addition to documents staff;
  9.  Interlibrary loan service with documents listed in OCLC and the library's online public access catalog (dubbed MANGO available via Internet);
  10.  Availability of telefacsimile transmission;
  11.  Participation in Govdoc-L and FLADOCS-L for resource & information sharing of government documents;
  12.  Participation in library displays;
  13.  Inclusion of government documents in subject bibliographies and help guides;
  14.  Providing voice mail on the Government Documents Department telephone.

Public Guidelines for Government Information in Electronic Formats:

As a Federal Depository Library, the Government Documents Library is committed to free public access to government information, as mandated by 44 U.S.C. 1911. The Government Documents collections and services are available to the public as well as to persons affiliated with Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Service for government information in electronic formats at S.E. Wimberly Library is governed by the federal government's Depository Library Public Service Guidelines for Government Information in Electronic Formats (1998) and by the PC Use Policy for Library Users.

FAU Libraries provides free Internet access to government information from its public computer workstations for accessing government information in electronic formats. In addition, at least one computer workstation is dedicated to documents reference use to ensure availability of federal government information even in times of peak library usage. This workstation is located in the Government Documents Office and has CD-ROM/DVD drives.  No password, sign-up, or Florida Atlantic University identification is required to use these workstations, and no Internet filters are installed.

The Government Documents Department attempts to maintain computer equipment that meets the latest "Recommended Specifications for Public Access Work Stations in Federal Depository Libraries" as published annually in WEB Tech Notes.

All workstations have Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel for manipulation of downloaded data.  Printing from all workstations is available for a fee set by Library Administration for all public printers in the library, currently 10 cents per page.

The Government Documents Department's CD-ROM collection is located in a cabinet housed in the Government Documents Office  If a CD-ROM requires special software to run, government documents staff will load the CD and any necessary software on a public workstation within one business day, if possible. Most CD-ROMs can also be checked out by users for use on their own workstations. A manual of instructions for loading the library's CD-ROMs is also available for check out.  Exceptions include: Census Bureau publications, reference titles, and high-use items.

The Government Documents Department maintains the FAU Libraries Government Resources web site designed to facilitate access to government information on the Internet. Some Internet sites containing government information may require a password which will be provided for users in the Government Documents Office. The department also produces the Government Documents LibGuide which provides an overview of the Federal and State collections, instruction on searching for Congressional documents, and a comprehensive set of links to government produced statistical resources on the U.S. economy and foreign trade.

Last modified at 02/08/2022 - 15:52 PM