Recall of Depository Material

  • Last Updated: February 28, 2023
  • Published: October 15, 2012

Authority to Issue a Recall of Depository Material

The U.S. Congress entrusts the Government Publishing Office (GPO) with the stewardship of depository materials, both as Federal property and as intellectual property for free distribution and public use. On occasion, GPO may issue a recall notice for a specific publication(s), requiring Federal depository libraries holding the material to remove the publication(s) from public access, at the library or at a selective housing site, and to return or destroy the resource(s).

When Federal agencies order GPO to remove access to previously released publications, GPO works closely with the agency to ensure that the request falls within the boundaries listed in 44 U.S.C. §1902.

Only the GPO Director, the Superintendent of Documents, or their agents (that is, other GPO staff) may order Federal depository libraries to remove documents from Federal depository collections.

All Federal depositories must read all issued recall notices as a response may be requested from all depositories. Libraries which did not receive or no longer have the recalled publications in their collections may be requested to respond to this effect.

Reasons for Recall

Federal agencies may ask GPO to remove a publication from public access for various reasons, including:

  • National security
  • Presence of incorrect or misleading information in a publication
  • Protection of public interest (for example, the publication contains personally sensitive information)
  • The printed publication is defective

Per the issuing agency’s direction, GPO may distribute a revised or corrected copy of a recalled publication. GPO may try to correct a printing or binding problem with the original publication and return it to the library.

GPO will update related catalog records in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications to reflect a change in public access.

Library Instructions

During a recall, Federal agency authors or GPO may request any of these actions:

  1. Return: Depositories return publications to GPO, per issuing agency request or to correct a printing or binding problem. The issuing Federal agency or GPO may pay shipping costs.
  2. Destruction: Depositories must destroy the publication(s) by the best available means. If a shredder is not available, library staff must cut the publication into strips so that no one can read the information. Depositories must secure publications subject to destruction until the time of shredding or destruction, especially when any third party (such as a shredding contractor) is involved.
  3. Withdrawal/Hold for Further Instruction: Depositories must pull publications from public access and securely store them until GPO receives further guidance from the issuing Federal agency. GPO will notify libraries of a final action needed.

Specific instructions about a recall request are included in an official letter from the Superintendent of Documents. This letter is disseminated through the FDLP News and Events email service. It may also be sent out through the askGPO survey mechanism or placed in depository shipment boxes for libraries that currently receive tangible material.

Depositories must comply with all instructions issued by GPO in a timely manner and may be required to verify compliance. Upon the issuing agency’s request, GPO may ask depositories to complete a brief survey to verify compliance with the instructions or to confirm that the publication is not in the library collections.

A library may not make a copy of recalled publication(s) for library or other use.

Active Recall Notices

  • There are no active recalls at this time.

Archived Recall Notices

Authorization letters for the following recalls are located in the File Repository.