Physical Facilities and Collection Maintenance

  • Last Updated: January 22, 2024
  • Published: October 15, 2012

All tangible government publications supplied to libraries remain the property of the U.S. Government. Each depository library is entrusted with the custody of depository materials and must ensure they are properly maintained and protected from theft, deterioration, and physical damage in a manner comparable to other library collections and in a way that facilitates their use.

Physical Location

Each depository library must post the FDLP decal in a prominent location on or near publicly accessible library entrances. The decal indicates through statutory language that the library is a Federal depository and FDLP information products can be used by the general public at the library. Decals must be posted at any publicly accessible housing location, including selective housing sites (SHA) and storage facilities. For any location that is not publicly accessible, in lieu of posting the emblem, all involved parties must advertise the availability of depository materials housed there and how to access them.

Primary and non-primary patrons must be able to access a physical location to use the depository collection. Signage should be employed to facilitate access to depository materials and libraries may use security measures to protect collections, staff, and patrons; however, there must be reasonable accommodation to the collection for all users. For more information, see the Security of Library Users and Collections guidance article.

Patron and staff work areas should be clean, well lit, and have sufficient work space and seating. The building and collections should be monitored for any potential issues, such as mold or mildew that could ultimately affect access to depository resources.

You may choose to turn off lights in the stacks when they are not needed as over time light can damage materials. When needed, libraries should clean materials as dust and dirt also damage materials.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance

All facilities housing depository materials must meet the standards set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or have a reasonable alternative to ensure access. Libraries that are unable to meet ADA requirements must have advertised workarounds so that all researchers may acquire needed services or material. To consult about potential permissible workarounds, please contact GPO via LSCM Outreach & Support.

Libraries are strongly encouraged to increase the usability of materials by providing assistive technologies, such as screen readers, voice recognition software, text readers, and Braille translation software, for access to depository resources.

Learn more about library ADA requirements at:

United States Access Board


Library equipment must facilitate use of depository resource content, through viewing, downloading, photocopying, and printing.


  • Internet Access - Libraries must provide access to online depository resources via the Internet.
  • Filtering - If Internet filters are installed on library computers or network security limits access to content, a workaround must be available should depository resources be blocked. To consult about permissible options, please contact Outreach & Support.
  • DVDs, CDs, and Diskettes - At least some library computers should have drives for all formats in the collection. If disk drives are not available, the library should circulate the material or make alternate arrangements for viewing.
  • Printers - All depository users must be able to make use of printers.


  • Microfiche readers - Readers must be available in libraries with depository issued microfiche, preferably close to the microfiche collection. Providing additional capabilities for microfiche readers, such as printing, scanning, and saving or sending digital files generated from microfiche resources are strongly encouraged.


  • Photocopiers - Photocopiers must be available for all depository users. Libraries are not required to provide free printing.
  • Scanners - Providing scanners for depository users in the library is strongly encouraged.

Housing and Care of Tangible Depository Publications

Libraries are responsible for properly housing all tangible depository materials. Libraries decide where materials will be housed. Options include onsite (open or closed stacks), selective housing sites (SHA), branches within a library system, or offsite storage. Housing must be sufficient to control, protect, and maintain all depository holdings in all formats. When making housing arrangements, libraries need to consider how alternate storage methods affect patron access to the material and make adjustments accordingly.

If the location of any part of the depository collection is not under the administrative control of your depository library, a selective housing agreement must be developed.

Libraries must house depository materials comparably to other library collections. If, for example, other collections are security tagged and substantial publications are bound, the same care must be applied to depository publications.

Libraries may wish to develop written preservation policies or procedures that provide for the maintenance and continued accessibility of depository collections.

For more information about housing materials in offsite storage, see “Best Practices for Storing and Retrieving Depository Materials in On-site and Off-site Storage”.


The library must have sufficient growth space for all formats of the collection. Once processed, resources should be available either in open stacks or retrievable from closed stacks and remote storage.

Library stacks must be a minimum of 32 inches of space between stacks to be ADA compliant.

As needed, materials or processes to adequately house and maintain the depository collection should be used. Improper shelving practices cause damage, particularly on overcrowded shelves For example, periodicals and other sets of thin publications that sit together on the shelf can benefit from being housed in file boxes to keep them neat and upright. Materials may also be bound or stored in cabinets. All materials must be housed in a way that preserves, but doesn’t inhibit access.

Housing Microfiche

Libraries must store microfiche vertically, preferably in acid-free containers or envelopes. Depository envelopes are acid-free, as are any inserted dividers. Libraries should house microfiche in cabinets specifically designed for this format; label cabinets clearly to facilitate discovery and access. Give ample space in the drawers to avoid damage to the materials. If cabinets are locked, advertise how users can access the material. Make sure to take all wrappings off microfiche publications and remove all rubber bands. Diazo microfiche must be kept in a separate cabinet from silver based microfiche.

Housing Maps

Libraries should house sheet maps and charts flat in sturdy, acid-free map cases; sufficient space for viewing maps should be provided. Only those maps pre-folded by the publisher should be stored folded. Maps can be stored in either vertical or horizontal map cases; do not overfill drawers or folders. Smaller maps that accompany other publications may be housed with the publication on the shelf or separately in a map case. If the map is housed separately from its parent publication, this should be noted in the depository holdings record and on the item. In most situations, it is useful to keep map indexes near the maps.

Housing Posters

House posters flat or display on walls. Do not fold or roll. Posters stored flat should be housed similar to maps.

Housing Electronic Products

Placing electronic media on shelves, in cabinets, or integrating with the regular collection are all acceptable options. Depository property information and date stamps should be affixed to media cases. Consider using security tape for protection if other materials are protected that way.

Repair/Replacement of Depository Tangibles

Depository materials should be replaced and repaired using the same policies that the library uses for non-depository materials. Your library must make every reasonable effort to replace or repair Federal Government property that has been lost or damaged. Replacements of depository materials are considered to be depository property and must be managed as such. The library should make a reasonable effort to replace with the same format. If not available, providing access to an online equivalent is sufficient.


FDLP resources must be included in the insurance coverage for the library’s collections. If the depository collection were to suffer loss as a result of negligence on the part of the library, the Government could make a claim against the library for the amount of loss. Thus, depository libraries have an insurable interest, although GPO is not in a position to provide guidance regarding the appropriate formula for establishing the level of coverage. As a minimum standard for the care and maintenance of depository property, the protection given to depository materials must be no less than that given to commercially acquired publications. Most libraries carry insurance and base their insurance estimates on the cost of replacing a similar number of volumes from their commercially acquired collections. A blanket policy may therefore be sufficient.

Duplicate Copies

If there is a duplicate copy or second copy of a publication in the depository collection, only one copy needs to be maintained as the depository copy. Duplicate copies may be discarded immediately or, as appropriate per regional depository library direction, included in the state or region’s weeding processes.