Recall of Depository Material

  • Last Updated: January 20, 2022
  • Published: October 15, 2012

Authority to Issue a Recall or Return of Depository Material

The U.S. Congress entrusts the Government Publishing Office (GPO) with the stewardship of depository materials, both as tangible property and as intellectual property for free distribution and public use. On occasion, GPO may issue a recall notice for a specific publication(s). Only the Public Printer of the United States, the Superintendent of Documents, or their agents (other GPO staff) may order Federal depository libraries to remove documents from Federal depository collections. 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.

Reasons for Recall

Federal agencies may ask GPO to remove a publication from public access for reasons of:

  • National security
  • Incorrect or misleading information in a publication
  • Protection of public interest (e.g., publication contains personally sensitive information)
  • Defective publication

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

GPO may ask libraries to return a publication to GPO due to printing or binding problems. Note that GPO might ask for a document to be returned to us for disposal at the agency request. GPO may opt to distribute a revised or corrected copy. Alternatively, GPO may try to correct the problem with the original publication and return it to the owning library. This return process involves the library providing ownership information and GPO keeping track of that information, but doing so minimizes the amount of work needed for library staff to return the publication to the library shelf.

Library Instructions

During a recall, there are three types of actions the Federal agency author may request depository libraries to take, listed below.

  1. Return: Depositories return publications to GPO. The Federal agency or GPO may pay shipping costs.
  2. Destruction: Depositories must destroy the publication(s) by the best available means, such as shredding. If your depository does not have access to a shredder, your 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, especially when a third party is handling the shredding.
  3. Withdrawal/Hold for Further Instruction: Depositories pull publications from public access and temporarily store them securely until GPO receives further guidance from the Federal agency. GPO will notify libraries of the final action required.

Specific instructions about a recall request are included in an official letter from the Superintendent of Documents. GPO may distribute this letter in depository shipment boxes for libraries that receive tangible material. Typically GPO announces it through the FDLP News and Events Email Alert Service. Read the letter and the announcement carefully as there may be additional actions required based on the request from the Federal agency or from GPO.

Depositories must comply with all instructions issued by GPO in a timely manner and may be required to verify compliance. Upon the publication’s issuing agency’s request, GPO may ask your library to fill out a brief survey to verify that your library complied with the instructions or to confirm that your library never received the publication.

A library may not make a copy of the recalled publication for library or other use.

Active Recall Notices

  • There are no active recalls at this time.

Archived Recall Notices