The University of Arizona®

Collection Development Policy


Collection Development Policy and Management for Federal Documents

University of Arizona Libraries


Atifa Rawan
Research Support Services
Government Documents Librarian

Revised August 2009




Table of Contents:

Mission Statement

Community Analysis
Collection Management

Collection Development Activities
Bibliographic Control

Depository Services

Federal Depository Selection Tools and Policies

Appendix: General Background



  •  In 2005, the University of Arizona Libraries became the first official GPO “Virtual Federal Depository library” in the United States.
  • The UA federal depository collection is managed in accordance with the guidelines and requirements as set forth by GPO collection management ( and by the Federal Depository Library Handbook (January 2008) (
  • The University of Arizona Library has participated in the Federal Depository Library Program, administered by the US Government Printing Office (GPO), since 1907. Between 1963 and 1987 it operated as a Regional Depository Library, acquiring and retaining virtually all publications made available for distribution by the GPO. Space constraints forced the Library to drop regional status in the summer of 1987.
  • The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) was established by Congress to ensure that the American public has access to its Government’s information (Title 44, United States Code, Chapter 19). For more than 140 years, depository libraries have supported the public's right to Government information by collecting, organizing, and preserving it, and by providing assistance to users.

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Mission Statement

The University of Arizona Library is dedicated to meeting the diverse information, curricular and research needs of students, faculty, staff and other customers. In an environment of free and open inquiry and with a commitment to excellence, the Library participates in the scholarly communication process to promote lifelong learning skills and continuous educational achievement.

The University of Arizona Library collection development policy stresses electronic access to information resources that support the curriculum, research, and service needs of the faculty, students, and university community (our primary users), as well as those of Arizona residents and others. 

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Community Analysis 

The Federal Depository Program provides access and service to the community and public as required by law (44 U.S. Code). The University of Arizona Library is a selective Federal Depository Library. The primary users of the Federal Depository are the residents of the7th Congressional District in Arizona and the students, faculty and staff of the University of Arizona. The Libraries also provide services to larger portion of the 8thCongressional District in Arizona. Other depository libraries in the area are; the Tucson/Pima Public Library and The University of Arizona Law Library.
The Libraries virtual federal depository collection supports the curriculum and research in all areas, from the undergraduate level to the doctoral level. The University of Arizona Libraries and Center for Creative Photography’s goal is to provide its primary customers with seamless, on-demand access to information resources and services essential to their research, scholarship, teaching and learning success.
The Libraries accomplish this goal by:
  • Understanding customer needs, including University priorities, aligning allocation of the Information Access Budget with those needs, and selecting resources that will best meet those needs,
  • Acquiring and providing quality information and information services using the most cost-effective means
  • Exposing and encouraging access to UA Libraries and CCP resources and services through the platforms and external systems most widely used by customers,
  • Supporting development of the digital/virtual library that seamlessly enables the increasingly electronic delivery of information and services to customers,
  • Developing  collaborative partnerships with research libraries, consortia and related information agencies to leverage resources, and
  • Allocating the Information Access Budget strategically to support the overall mission of the Library and the University. 

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Collection Management

The Federal Depository Collection is maintained in accordance with the guidelines set out by FDLP and it is outlined in the FDL Handbook ( and Collection Maintenance (
All tangible documents are clearly marked with the depository property stamp, shipping list date, and the SuDoc number. Superseded documents are withdrawn. Other documents may be reviewed for retention after five years. Collection review and assessment is an ongoing process.
All depository materials including online resources (with links) are represented in the online catalog and available for circulation (if appropriate) shortly after arriving in the Library. 
Since 1987, and especially after the reorganization, the UAL’s Federal Depository Collection has been subject to the types of development practices routinely conducted in other areas of the Library. During the time the Library functioned as a regional depository, virtually no materials were weeded, item numbers could not be deselected and newly established item numbers were automatically added to the Library's list of selections. 

Following relinquishment of regional status in 1987, the head document librarian's discretion was relied upon almost exclusively for decisions regarding weeding, de-selection, and adding new item numbers.  Expertise beyond the Government Documents Department was rarely sought, except with regard to sheet map acquisitions.  Prior to reorganization, however, responsibility for acquiring non-depository as well as depository publications fell to the three librarians with the Government Documents Department, and substantial resources were devoted to maintaining comprehensive commercial microfiche sets of congressional and statistical publications to complement the Library’s depository collections in these areas. Currently, the Library is subscribing to online congressional and statistical full-text resources that requires less library staff time in time in maintaining, shelving, processing and selecting of tangible items.

Subsequent to reorganization, responsibility for acquiring depository federal documents has been delegated among the Information Resource Managers. After the zero-base review of item selections was completed in 1996, responsibility for acquiring depository as well as non-depository materials was delegated to Information Resource Managers. Just as each Information Resource Manager is responsible for collection development in specific portions of the Library of Congress classification schedule, so will individual Information Resource Managers be responsible for collection development in certain parts of the Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc) classification schedule in close collaboration with the Library’s government documents coordinator.  

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Collection Development Activities

1. Collection Scope and Selection Standards

Subject strengths include Congressional and Executive historical materials, environment, Borderland/Southwest, economics, agriculture, energy, health, water, American Indians, international relations, labor, military history, and social issues. Documents are selected at a comprehensive level from the following US Federal Government agencies: Agriculture Department; Commerce Department, particularly the Census Bureau; Department of Education; Interior Department, particularly the United States Geological Survey; Health and Human Services; and the Justice Department. The Libraries current selection ratio is 60.23% of the total items offered (Item Numbers Selected -5177 -Total Possible Selections -8596) through the Federal Depository Library Program. Electronic versions of documents, especially web-based, are strongly preferred. The percentage of selected documents may change annually due to decisions to add or deselect categories based on the following factors. 
  • Availability of online resources
  • The changing nature of the university's academic mission and programs 
  • Historical research purposes
  • Availability of information in other sources and formats
  • Geographic area covered by the material
  • User interest

The Federal Collection is a "research level" collection.  That is, it includes supplementary material beyond depository items.  The collection should be comprehensive particularly in areas supporting the curriculum and research of University of Arizona University.

2. Selection Responsibility

The Librarian assigned for the GPO liaison activities is a member of the Library’ Research Support Services Team with responsibilities as the Domain Manager for Digital Content Management, and with over 25 years of documents experience. She is the 2005 Elizabeth Futas Catalyst for Change award for her leadership work in virtual federal depository libraries in the United States.

The Research Support Services Team focus is on supporting the research and teaching needs of faculty, students, and researchers. Areas of activities include: connection development, content management, and information resources management programs.
Annual profile selection requires input from other RSS information resource managers, in consultation with the RSS/Government. Documents Librarian is responsible for the completion of the yearly profile selection. Purchases of non-depository government publications are made by other librarians with input from faculty and students in order to meet the needs of the University of Arizona community.
Collection development activities germane to Federal Depository Documents include:
  • Substituting tangible items for e-format
  • Determining which tangible titles including CD/DVD titles need to be maintained in the collection
  • Identification of item numbers for addition to or deletion from the Library's item selection list
  • Determining which publications, including CD/DVD titles, are appropriately housed in non-circulating locations (e.g. reference and special collection);
  • Determining retention policies for reference materials
  • Determining when to weed outdated materials
  • Determining what non-depository titles should be acquired to supplement the depository collection.  
3. Formats Selected

The Library collection policy is to select resources only in one format. Currently, all available government documents electronic (EL) information resources are selected with the exception of administrative documents, posters and general advertising brochures and forms. Selection takes into consideration content, user needs, library facilities, information resources quality standards and policies.
MARIVE labels and electronic records are used to ensure catalog records in the UA Library online for both tangible and electronic resources. The Library is a strong supporter of GPO virtual depository program and its information resources policies supports virtual depository program.
As a virtual Federal depository library, the Library continuously modifies its item selection profile to replace tangible format resources with e-format. With the exception of maps, tangible electronic products that contain large data sets, and highly used resources such as Statistical Abstract of the United States, all other item selection are in e-format. 
The Library also supplements the depository collection with mostly online commercial services such as indexes, bibliographies, and full-text products. Some services are, by contract, available only to the University community, others are available to all users.  A list of these resources is available in UAL online catalog, under “Article & Database Searching” at -
4. De-Selection/Weeding

The Depository is managed according to the guidelines published by the GPO in Instructions to Depository Libraries for processing and maintenance.
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.
Publications which no longer fit the selection standards and policy are withdrawn from the collection by Information Resource Managers as permitted by the US Government Printing Office's "Federal Depository Library Handbook” (
Those resources that are no longer needed, replaced by an electronic equivalent and meet the 5-year GPO retention statutory, the Library is securing permission from the Arizona State Library (Regional Depository) for disposal in accordance with the provisions of Title 44, United States Code, Section 1912.
Specific materials to be weeded include:
  • Duplicate tangible resources.
  • Materials that have been superseded by online versions. As a virtual depository, the Library is permitted to replace tangible versions with electronic equivalents provided the electronic version is complete, official, and permanently accessible. GPO Access databases on the FDLP Guidelines on Substituting Electronic for Tangible Versions of Depository Publications meet these requirements.Retention of substituted materials follows GPO retention rules.
  • Preliminary reports (if final report has been received)
  • Superseded publications - Individual serials titles if the Library does not have a complete run - incomplete series or volumes and documents that have been revised  
  • Separates, slip opinions, slip laws, advance or preliminary reports only upon receipt of the bound volumes or cumulated issues or products
  • Reprints, provided the library has received the original edition
  • Publications upon receipt of a revised edition or an edition that states it supersedes. If a later edition is distributed through the Federal Depository Library Program or is otherwise available to the library, the superseded edition can be discarded by the library, even though that library has since deselected the item number and does not possess the new edition.
  • Pages from loose-leaf publications that are replaced by new pages  
Documents which will be exempt from weeding include:
  • Any material containing information on Arizona or the Southwest region
  • Any information containing information on American Indians or U.S.-Mexico borderlands
  • Significant publications that support graduate degree programs at the University of Arizona, particularly items that have actively circulated or are related to areas of focused excellence.
5. Gifts

Generally the Library does not accept gifts.
Please see the UA gift policy for full information:
6. Preservation

In order to preserve the collection, the Library staff selectively binds currently received printed materials. The Library policy is to collect in one format and electronic is preferred. The Library staff makes every effort to replace badly damaged or deteriorating materials with online available products. 



Bibliographic Control

Technical Services Team members mainstream bibliographic access to federal documents by providing MARC/AACR2-formatted record in the Library online catalog. The Library also participates in Worldcat local.

The Library purchases bibliographic records from Marcive, Inc. The automated Shipping List Service (SLS) is loaded weekly and permanent records are loaded on a monthly cycle. On April 2, 1995, 6, 672 MARC records for federal document serial titles purchased from Marcive, Inc. were loaded. To date, nearly all post-1976 publications have been edited and merged with existing holdings records, or deleted and replaced with more accurate records on our on-line catalog along with other materials purchased by the Library.
All depository materials are represented in the online catalog and available for circulation (if appropriate) shortly after arriving in the Library. All electronic resources have separate bibliographic catalog records with links.

The Library depends increasingly on Internet access to government information. US government agencies are in the forefront of publishing in electronic formats, including documents available on the Internet. Now that documents are increasingly posted on the Internet and federal agencies rely even less upon GPO for procurement and distribution, and not at all for bibliographic control, so we attempt to provide online and remote access via the Library's information gateway.

In addition, the UA Libraries also select depository items based on a combination of anticipated usage, format, ease of access, and timeliness. One concern for not selecting an item that is available in paper as well as on the Internet is that if the item is not selected, then it is not represented in our online catalog. On the other hand, if an online version is available at the time GPO catalogs a document; our catalog record will include a link to the Internet version in the online catalog.

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Depository Services

1. Reference Service

In accepting designation as a Federal Depository Library, the University of Arizona Libraries follows the regulations officially governing such libraries. Therefore, no discrimination may be made between university and non-university users in providing reference service or physical access to the documents collection including paper, microforms, and electronic resources.

Reference services are provided by a combination of several teams such as Access and Information Services Team (AIST), Instructional Services Team (IST), Research Support Services Team (RSS) and the Special Collections. Reference service includes, written correspondence, telephone, Ask a Librarian, chat, email reference, talk to a person, and meet with a librarian (
There are public computer stations with access to Internet, government documents page, and other links and other software designated as priority for use of government documents resources. Depository maps are classed into LC and housed in the map area (compact shelving). Reference is provided from the main reference services areas of the Library. Phone and Internet questions are accepted, although complex reference requests will require that users come to the library.
The University of Arizona Library supports the participation of people with disabilities in academic pursuits at the University of Arizona and in life-long learning. The Library provides access to research materials and services through reasonable accommodations such as readily accessible adaptive technology and software, special equipment and personal assistance.
2. Access

The primary circulating collection, reference materials, microfiche, CD-ROM’s, current periodicals, maps and as well as rare materials are available to the Libraries’ users during the hours the Library building is open. Most circulating materials are located in the 3rd floor of the Main Library and in the 5th floor of the Science and Engineering Library (e.g. EPA, Energy, Transportation, and technical reports). There is no restriction for public using government documents resources.
Most federal government tangible information resources are housed in open shelving area, according to SuDoc call number, and are available to all users the hours that the library is open. There are no restrictions on the use of the materials. Print stations are available throughout the library, and the public may obtain a print card to make photocopies of materials. Any resources housed in the Special collections can be requested, used and copied at the Special Collections area.
Free and unrestricted access is provided to Federal Depository Library Program information on the Internet, i.e., the FDLP Electronic/virtual Collection. Printing costs are charged per the Libraries’ overall policy. Use of depository workstations to access the FDLP is governed by the Libraries’ computer use policy. Access to certain commercial databases may be restricted to UA users according to subscription license agreements.
3. Circulation

Most tangible federal documents circulate to registered borrowers and are lent via interlibrary loan.
Government Documents follows the current Circulation Policy of the University Libraries (available at the Libraries’ home page). All circulation functions, billing, etc. are performed by the Access and Information Service Team (AIST). Borrowing privileges for non-UA users are available for Arizona residents at least 21 years of age with the purchase of an UA Community Card.

4. Library Instruction

Subject-specific library instruction classes are prepared and presented on request by librarians and librarians also assist in large group orientations as an outreach and promotion effort. In addition, course guides, subject guides, and learning objects and online tutorials and modules are created by librarians and faculty to help users find library information resources. 

5. Resource Sharing

Depository Collections are important part of a local/regional, and national network. Regional Depositories receive all Depository items and are under obligation to make these items available for use within the region they serve. Thus any tangible item not selected by UA Libraries, and which is a Depository Item, is available for use (and perhaps interlibrary loan) from the regional depository at the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. Regular interaction with other large depositories in Arizona is followed through referral and interlibrary loan. Primary referrals: Arizona State Library, ASU Libraries, UA Law Library, Tucson/Pima County Public Library, NAU Cline Library, and Phoenix Public Library.
UA is a member of the Center for Research Libraries, which holds some large collections of U.S. Government documents in micro format. The older FBIS Reports, Greenwood Press Hearings, Witness Index, and the Readex Non-Depository Microprint Collection are all items that can be readily borrowed from CRL.
Government Documents Service usually does not duplicate CRL acquisitions unless the material is of high use to the University, e.g., National Archives material is purchased on request by CRL for member libraries. UA Libraries purchase items of vital research importance from NARA (e.g., NARA Arizona Territory Census Schedules, 1880, 1900).
The University of Arizona Libraries is an active participant in the AULC (Arizona University Libraries Council). Formally recognized by the University Presidents, AULC has facilitated consortia purchases and subscriptions in Collection Development. Purchase or subscription to several of the commercial electronic databases that provide enhanced access to government information are made possible through the cooperative efforts of the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and the Northern Arizona University.

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Federal Depository Selection Tools and Policies

Government Printing Office -
GPO Depository Libraries -
Catalog of US Government Publications -
Find a Federal depository Near You - GPO New
GPO Subject Bibliographies: 
Policies That Should Be Known To All Information Resource Managers Are: 

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Appendix: General Background

The University of Arizona Library has participated in the Federal Depository Library Program, administered by the US Government Printing Office (GPO), since 1907. Between 1963 and 1987 it operated as a Regional Depository Library, acquiring and retaining virtually all publications made available for distribution by the GPO. 

Space constraints forced the Library to drop regional status in the summer of 1987. At that time the Library reduced its depository selections to 91% of the item number categories distributed by GPO, and began to weed outdated materials.  After the Library's reorganization in 1993, the former Government Documents Department emerged as a work team within the Library's Technical Services and Archival Processing Team (TSAP).  The work team's first major strategic project was to conduct a zero-base review of the Library’s depository item selections.  This review was completed in November of 1995 and resulted in an item selection ratio of approximately 43%. 

The following types of materials were targeted for de-selection:  ephemeral publications such as newsletters, fact sheet, briefs, etc.; transmittal publications; serial titles of which no issues had been received during the past five years; serial publications which had an erratic distribution history, including random receipt between paper and microfiche format; and monographic series in which the majority of publications distributed were considered of little or no lasting research value.  Many otherwise useful serial titles were dropped because they had been converted to microfiche format for library distribution.  In these cases (most of which emanated from the National Climatic Data Center, the Energy Information Administration, the Bureau of Mines, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics), TSAP/Docs received non-depository copies directly from the issuing agency.

Great care was taken during the review not to reduce acquisitions in historically strong areas of the federal depository collection.  Item numbers comprising congressional and statistical publications, for instance, were left intact.  Agencies incurring extensive de-selection included those within the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Transportation.

In the 1998-1999 selection cycles, we increased our selection slightly. For example, we have re-examined agencies such as Defense, Health Services, and Transportation and have added some items back into our profile to support our customers' needs. Government documents technical services processing is part of Serials Receiving and Processing within Technical Services Team. 

In September 2003, we agreed to become a pilot virtual depository library for GPO and our selection profile increased to 59%. Majority of the increased items in the profile were in e-format.

The pilot project made it possible for the library to begin aligning the depository selection profile with the policies shaping other areas of the collection; at the same time the pilot project helped to establish a preliminary framework for UA library staff to understand the impact of the move toward greater electronic access to government information.

It aided GPO’s Cataloging Branch in refining its procedures for adding electronic titles to the depository collection and to increase its indexing service to the community. The pilot project also set a precedent for a selective depository that establishes an all-electronic item selection to be evaluated in biennial surveys, self-studies, and inspections on an equal and fair footing with depositories that continue to select tangible formats. After completing our successful pilot, we became the first official virtual depository library in 2005 recognized by GPO. Our main focus is now on providing access to electronic resources.
As a result of the pilot, the UA Library decided to move decisively toward a virtual depository collection for those materials available and archived by GPO. The library’s federal depository collection development policy was revised to institutionalize the new approach. Under its newly revised collection development policy, the library systematically substitutes the EL format for the tangible. Further, the library staff reevaluated the selection profile for depository items, making few changes. From the original list of 25 titles in the 2002-2003 profile that the library selected in dual formats, 4 titles were dropped and 2 new titles were added. In addition, the library dropped another 106 paper and microfiche map items from its 2003-2004 profile.
The selection of EL rather than tangible depository products during the pilot project year resulted in significant savings in staff time that would otherwise have gone toward the various activities involved in processing print and microfiche documents. Processing time was cut to 10% of what it was before the change, and this translates to savings of staff and student time. Additionally, the library, already outgrowing its finite space, also saved resources by not having to find room for the tangible products that would have been received and processed under the old selection profile. The library saved 190 linear feet of shelving space, one microfiche cabinet drawer, and one map cabinet. It became apparent that the receipt of tangible formats represented an opportunity in the sense that resources expended on processing and shelving them could now go toward other needed library services and activities. All of these factors–customer satisfaction, collection policy coherence, staff communication and participation, and the freedom to deploy resources elsewhere–made it ultimately possible for the project coordinator to secure support for and endorsement of the move to a virtual depository from the library’s Information Resources Council, information resource managers, and Technical Services team members.
For more description of the University of Arizona integration and pilot project activities see the following articles:
1. Atifa R. Rawan and Jennifer Cox, Government Publications Integration and Training,  Journal of Government Information 22 (1995), pp. 253–266.
2. Atifa Rawan, Cheryl Knott Malone and Laura J. Bender as third author), “Assessing the Virtual Depository Program: The Arizona Experience.” Journal of Government Information 30 (2004): 710-726.
3. Atifa Rawan and Cheryl Knott Malone “A Virtual Depository: The Arizona Project,” The Reference Librarian 45 (2006): 5-18.


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