Leaving the FDLP
A depository library has the right to voluntarily relinquish its depository status.
Libraries Considering Dropping Status
Libraries that are considering dropping out of the FDLP should contact both Federal Depository Support Services (FDSS) and their regional depository library(ies). There are many ways for a library to participate in the FDLP. Contact Federal Depository Support Services so that U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) FDSS staff can provide options for your library. Together, FDSS staff and the regional depository coordinator(s) will provide guidance on the overall process for leaving the program. Please note the length of time required to leave the program depends on many factors.
Please see this informational flyer on leaving the FDLP.
Consider going mostly or all-digital
A depository library experiencing staff time or space pressures may benefit from right-sizing their existing FDLP collection and services. Consider transitioning to a mostly or all-digital depository. Library staff can review the guidance article on all or mostly online Federal Depository libraries for more information.
Please see this informational flyer on the flexibility of Federal Depository collections.
Procedure for a Selective Depository Library
Initial phone call discussion
Once library staff notify FDSS that they are considering leaving the FDLP, a call will be arranged with staff at the departing library, FDSS staff, and the regional depository coordinator(s). It is strongly recommended that the library director of the departing library participate in the call. During this call, the library’s reasons for leaving the program, relevant logistics, and the required disposition process for the departing library’s FDLP collection will be discussed. FDSS staff will also ask questions about the departing library’s tangible FDLP collection, and the history of collection management for that material.
Director’s letter to Superintendent of Documents
If the library opts to leave the FDLP after the call, the library director must send an official letter addressed to the Superintendent of Documents stating that the library no longer wishes to remain a depository for U.S. Government publications. An electronic copy of the letter, with the library director’s digital signature, is preferred. Please email the letter to Federal Depository Support Services at [email protected] directly to avoid a delay in our official response.
The letter must be on library letterhead and be signed by the library director. The letter should include the reasons why the library wishes to relinquish its depository status. Please address to:
Superintendent of Documents
U.S. Government Publishing Office (SD)
732 North Capitol St. NW
Washington, DC 20401-0001
Onsite FDLP Collection Review
Depending on the circumstances, FDSS staff may visit the library to assess the situation and the collection. Regional depository coordinators are encouraged to do the same. If your library is a candidate for an onsite visit, departing library staff will be informed during the call.
Creating the Collection Disposition Plan
Whenever possible, the departing library will provide FDSS staff and the designated regional depository coordinator(s) with an export from the library’s catalog or integrated library system (ILS) of all tangible depository material, or another inventory of FDLP material that the library can readily provide. We understand that the departing library’s ILS may not include up-to-date records for the entire tangible depository collection. The ILS export or inventory of tangible FDLP material will allow the regional depository coordinator(s) and FDSS staff to consider the depository collection, and it will form the basis of the Collection Disposition Plan drafted by GPO staff. Any uncataloged material will also be discussed and documented in the Collection Disposition Plan.
The Collection Disposition Plan documents the disposition process that is discussed during the initial call. It provides written procedures and guidance for how the departing library will leave the FDLP. The plan will include what is known about the depository collection at the time of the call, discard procedures in the state or region as prescribed by the designated regional depository(ies), if the library is required to offer depository material nationally via FDLP eXchange, the regional depository(ies) collection priorities, GPO collection development priorities, and a list of material that the departing library is requesting to keep. All parties will be able to provide feedback and comment before it is signed by GPO Staff, the regional coordinator(s), and the departing library’s director.
On June 15, 2020 GPO released the guidance document Federal Depository Libraries Relinquishing their Designation: Strategic Disposition of Depository Materials in Support of the National Collection (updated: SOD-DGD-1-2021) which requires libraries leaving the FDLP to offer depository materials nationally in FDLP eXchange whenever possible. In certain circumstances, this requirement may be waived, with approval from the regional depository(ies) and FDSS staff.
Collection Disposition Plans and Disposition Process
The designated regional depository(ies) has the authority to claim whatever it deems necessary for the region’s collection. The designated regional depository(ies) and selectives in the same state or region will have the opportunity to obtain materials from the library leaving the program before materials are made available to GPO or other depositories nationwide. This process will be discussed during the call and documented in the Collection Disposition Plan.
As the last step in the disposition process, the library leaving the program may ask to permanently retain unclaimed materials received through the FDLP. Each request will be reviewed on an individual basis by the Superintendent of Documents and the designated regional depository(ies). After the disposition of all tangible FDLP material is complete, the Superintendent of Documents will send a letter to the library director, releasing the library from the FDLP and providing a decision on requests to retain unclaimed FDLP material.
The library will remain in the FDLP and provide access to depository materials until the disposition process is complete.
Please note the disposition process may take significant time to complete. The process involves multiple institutions at both the state and national level and, in many cases, congressional notification. A variety of factors will also impact the speed of the disposition process. For example, how large is your depository collection? How much of the collection is cataloged at the item level? Do you have depository material in a selective housing site? What is the process of disposition for your state or region? Do you have staff to devote to this process? For these reasons, FDSS staff cannot guarantee a completion date.
Letters to Congress
Members of Congress designate most depository libraries. FDSS staff will tell you when you need to send a letter to Congress and to whom. The letter should be on official library letterhead and signed by the library director.
The letter informs the member of Congress that the library is leaving the FDLP and notes if there is an opening for a new depository library in their district or state. The library must copy the Superintendent of Documents on the letter when it is sent.
After the disposition process is complete and if the departing library was congressionally designated, the Superintendent of Documents will send a letter to the appropriate member of Congress informing them that the library has left the FDLP. The departing library and the regional depository coordinator(s) will receive a copy of this letter.
Procedure for Selective Libraries within Executive Departments and Independent
Agencies, Service Academies, and Highest State Appellate Courts
Libraries wishing to leave the FDLP who are within executive departments and independent agencies and service academies are not required to offer depository materials through the regional depository library(ies), but are required to deaccession through the Library of Congress.
Highest state appellate court libraries do not have to deaccession depository materials through the regional depository library(ies).
All depository materials remain the property of the United States Government.
Libraries with the ability to offer in FDLP eXchange or offer through their regional disposition process are encouraged to do so.
Procedure for Selective Libraries in a State without a Regional Depository Library
Libraries wishing to leave the FDLP that are not served by a regional depository library must contact Federal Depository Support Services for information on the process.
Regionals Considering Leaving the FDLP
A regional considering leaving the FDLP should first contact Federal Depository Support Services.
Your library should not make the decision to leave the FDLP quickly or without consultation. You must inform FDSS staff as soon as possible about your situation. Your library must discuss the ramifications of the potential change with:
- The impacted selective libraries.
- FDSS staff.
- Any other regionals involved in a shared regional agreement.
- If applicable, the other designated regional depository in your state or region.
The following entities must be informed of the decision to leave the FDLP:
- The State Library (if applicable).
- The congressperson in your current congressional district or Senatorial class if your library was congressionally designated as a selective.
- The Senator from the Senatorial class whose office designated your library as a regional.
Federal Depository Support Services can provide additional information and clarification if needed.
If your regional library decides to leave the FDLP, the library director must send an official letter to the Superintendent of Documents stating that the library no longer wishes to remain a depository for U.S. Government publications. An electronic copy of the letter, with the library director’s digital signature, is preferred. Please email the letter to Federal Depository Support Services at [email protected] directly to avoid a delay in our official response.
Please address to:
Superintendent of Documents
U.S. Government Publishing Office (SD)
732 North Capitol St. NW
Washington, DC 20401-0001
The letter should include:
- Reason(s) for leaving the FDLP.
- A plan that includes a timeline agreed to in the call, the effective date, and the proposal for the final status of the regional depository collection.
- Confirmation that the state or region’s other regional depository library has been notified (if there is one).
- Confirmation that your library has notified all other regional libraries involved in a shared regional agreement.
- Confirmation that your library has notified all selective libraries currently served by your library of the intent to leave the FDLP, with documentation showing selectives were advised of the proposal and timeline.
- Confirmation that your library has notified the offices of the applicable U.S. Senator(s) of your decision.
Publications distributed through the FDLP remain the property of the U.S. Government. The library may request to retain all or some of the regional depository collection as the last step in the disposition process. The Superintendent of Documents has the authority to require the regional library to return materials to GPO or transfer them to another depository library. The decision on the final disposition of the depository collection resides with the Superintendent of Documents.
The process for managing the disposition of a regional depository collection will depend on specific factors in the state or region. A Collection Disposition Plan will be created. The plan will include:
- Estimated time frames that were agreed to in the call.
- Responsibility for the transfer of materials (e.g., costs, mode of transportation).
- The process to offer tangible FDLP material to other depositories in the state or region, and then to GPO and other depositories nationwide.
- Other information requested by GPO.
This Collection Disposition Plan will be drafted after the initial call with FDSS staff and the regional depository coordinator(s) impacted by this decision for a regional to relinquish FDLP status. However, in the case of a regional depository library leaving the FDLP, additional calls and further discussions with impacted selective depositories will likely be necessary before the Collection Disposition Plan is approved and implemented.
As the last step in the disposition process, the library leaving the program may ask to permanently retain unclaimed materials received through the FDLP. Each request will be reviewed on an individual basis by the Superintendent of Documents.
After the disposition process is complete, the Superintendent of Documents will send a letter to the appropriate member(s) of Congress informing them that the library has left the FDLP. The departing regional depository coordinator(s) and director will receive a copy of this letter.
The Superintendent of Documents will send a letter to the library director, releasing the library from the FDLP and providing a decision on requests to retain unclaimed FDLP material.
Q: How long will this process take?
We cannot provide a timeline. The disposition process may take significant time to complete, since the process involves multiple institutions at both the state and national level. A variety of factors impact the speed of the disposition process. For these reasons we cannot guarantee a completion date. If this is a concern, the timeline can be discussed.
Q: Do I have to offer my tangible FDLP material nationally via FDLP eXchange? There is a situation at our library that would make this difficult.
A: Discuss the situation with FDSS staff and your regional depository coordinator during the call. There are situations where the requirement to offer FDLP material nationally in FDLP eXchange will be waived. This is considered on a case-by-case basis.
Q: Isn’t this process usurping the regional’s authority over weeding depository material?
A: GPO respects the established discard procedures in every region of the FDLP and always works with the impacted regional depository libraries to develop a disposition process that follows those same practices and procedures to the greatest extent possible, while also ensuring that as much depository material is kept within the National Collection as possible.
Q: My state/region uses the ASERL Documents Disposition Database. Will we still be able to use this system for offers from libraries leaving the FDLP in our state/region?
A: Yes, in most circumstances, if the state or region’s disposition policy requires the use of the ASERL Documents Disposition Database, all tangible FDLP material from a library leaving the FDLP will first be offered via that system before national offers are made via FDLP eXchange.
Q: If my regional doesn’t require me to offer microfiche, will I be required to list it if I leave the program?
A: It depends. Typically, FDSS staff will follow your regional depository library(ies) guidelines for regular offers of tangible FDLP material in that state or region, including respecting regional depository “do not offer” lists and format exclusions, but you may be required to offer your microfiche during disposition if you have a unique collection or if there is a known need for those specific materials.
Q: We don’t have a director. Can we still leave the program?
A: Yes. An interim director can sign the letter in the place of a director. You can also have the person the interim director reports to sign in the director’s place.
Q: My director wants to leave the program because they believe all U.S. Federal Government publications are online. Do you have any advice for this situation?
A: The vast majority of Government information is not online, especially publications printed before 1996 that have not been the focus of digitization efforts for historic material. Depository Coordinator Susanne Caro provided this FDLP Academy webinar on the Importance of Tangible Formats in May 2021. GPO’s govinfo and its predecessors, have been providing reliable, authenticated access to digital Government information since 1994, but even that is not comprehensive. There is no single source that provides access to all U.S. Federal Government documents in a digital format. If all individual digital content portals were added together, there would still be large gaps in information resources. For that reason, many of our depository libraries provide access to digital Government information for current acquisitions and keep older FDLP publications that meet their users’ needs in a tangible format. This is easily accomplished by modifying the depository’s FDLP item selection profile to align with collection development priorities. Please contact Federal Depository Support Services for assistance.