Biennial Survey of Depository Libraries

  • Last Updated: December 05, 2022
  • Published: January 25, 2013

The Superintendent of Documents, under the direction of the GPO Director, is responsible for administering the "Biennial Survey of Depository Libraries" as required by 44 U.S.C. §1909. Data from the survey is used to administer the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), to identify new trends, and to assist in the assessments of the conditions and services of Federal depository libraries.

All depository libraries are legally required to complete this survey in order to fulfil their legal obligation to "report to the Superintendent of Documents at least every two years concerning their condition" (44 USC § 1909).

GPO will announce the opening of each Biennial Survey and deadlines through FDLP News & Events.

Individual library responses from the Biennial Survey are kept with GPO’s official records for each depository. Responses should also be kept by each depository and passed on to successive depository staff members. Likewise, each regional library can use Biennial Survey information for the depositories under its purview.

State of the Federal Depository Library Program Reports

This report, the first to combine Biennial Survey data with other observations, fulfills the requirements of 44 U.S. Code §1909 for the Superintendent of Documents to report on conditions at depository libraries. The report covers the period from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2019. The report’s content and analysis include 2019 Biennial Survey data, as well as information gleaned by LSCM staff during various interactions with depository library personnel and administrators.

Past Results

Uses of Biennial Survey Data

Data received from the survey has many uses to the community and the GPO.

FDL Community

  • Source of official data about the FDLP
  • Helps regional libraries understand the situations of their selective libraries
  • Helps depositories compare their operation with peer libraries or libraries in their geographic area
  • Assist with training development
  • Identify trends


  • Satisfies legal requirement of 44 U.S.C. §1909 to report on conditions every two years
  • Source of official data approved by the library director
  • Used in Public Access Assessments of FDLP libraries
  • Identify common issues or needs
  • Assist with training development
  • Identify trends

The Biennial Survey questions are developed in consultation with the Depository Library Council and comments from the Federal depository library community. Recent Biennial Surveys have included a standard core group of questions that allows for analysis through the years. To that core group of questions, survey developers may add or delete questions.