Regional Depository Libraries

  • Last Updated: August 14, 2023
  • Published: October 17, 2018

What are Regional Depository Libraries?

The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) classifies depository libraries as either “regional” or “selective”. Regional depository libraries (regional libraries) have agreed to receive and retain at least one copy of all publications made available to the FDLP by the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and to retain those items in perpetuity (with some exceptions). By law, each state and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico may have two depositories designated as regional depositories. Regional depositories may also share collections and responsibilities as outlined in the 2018 Guidelines for Establishing Shared Regional Depository Libraries. Selective depositories (selectives) have the option of tailoring their collection to fit the needs of their communities by selecting suitable materials to receive from GPO and retaining materials for at least 5 years.

Regional Depository Responsibilities (Regulation 54)

Responsibilities for regional depository libraries are listed in 44 U.S.C. 1909-1916 and the Legal Requirements and Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program. All regulations apply to regional libraries, and regulations 54-63 pertain specifically to regional depositories.

Regulation #54 lists the main responsibilities of regionals:

Designated regional depository libraries must:

  • Ensure the comprehensiveness and integrity of a tangible FDLP collection in their state or region,
  • Provide interlibrary loan,
  • Manage the publication withdrawal process in the state or region they serve, and
  • Provide reference services to depository libraries within the region they serve.

Regional Depository Coordinators (Regulation 55)

Regional depository coordinators are the liaisons for selective depository coordinators in their region and for GPO staff and are also the coordinator for their own library’s Federal depository. Use the Federal Depository Library Directory and the FDLP Network webpages to see a listing of all regional depositories. Note that some states have two regionals, some have none, and some regionals serve multiple states and territories.

One person at each regional depository library must be designated as the coordinator. If a library has a vacancy in this position, it is important to have a staff person designated as an interim regional depository coordinator.

The regional coordinator should be familiar with each selective depository’s operation and be able to assess the needs of the selective libraries they serve. This can be achieved through activities such as periodic visits, regular communication, and consulting historic files. The regional coordinator should also stay in regular communication with GPO and other regional coordinators, and should plan to attend FDLP meetings such as the Federal Depository Library Conference as often as practicable.

New regional coordinators can use this checklist to orient themselves to their responsibilities and to evaluate their depository collection.

Training for regional depository coordinators is provided through the FDLP Academy. New regional coordinators may particularly want to look at the New Depository Librarians Institute, the Coordinator Certificate Program, or the Depository Operation Training Series. Some of this training pertains to the roles and responsibilities of selective depository libraries, which regional coordinators must know well in order to provide the most effective assistance to them.

Regional-L is a closed listserv for regional coordinators. GPO is not on this listserv, but you can contact GPO’s Outreach & Support ([email protected] or 202-512-1119) if you are a regional coordinator and need to be put in touch with the moderator and added to this important discussion list.

Working with Selective Depository Libraries – Services for the Region

Communication and coordination with the selective libraries in the region is an essential part of maintaining the strength and utility of the FDLP, and regional coordinators play a large role in facilitating the program at the local level. Regional coordinators are expected to take a leadership role for the FDLP within their state or region.

Communication, Visits, and Library Files (Regulation #55, 58)

Regional coordinators should maintain frequent communication with all the selective depository libraries in their state or region. Communication can be coordinated through any combination of methods such as a listserv, website or online guide, and regular in person or virtual meetings. New regional coordinators, in particular, are encouraged to send out an introductory email to selectives so selectives are aware of a change in staff at the regional library.

When possible, regional depository coordinators should also make in person visits to the selective libraries in their region. Site visits help the regional library staff gain familiarity with local collections and may be used for training, communication with administrators, and collection review and management. Regional coordinators may also accompany GPO staff on outreach or assessment visits.

Regionals are required to maintain a file on each selective depository in the region. These files include copies of assessments, Biennial Surveys, selective housing agreements, correspondence, and any other relevant information. GPO also maintains files on all Federal depository libraries and may be able to provide selective depository historical documentation as needed.

If traveling to the annual fall Federal Depository Library Conference, regionals are encouraged to coordinate a region lunch with the selective depository coordinators from their state or region who are attending the event in person. Traditionally, this lunch is held on the first day of the conference.

Interlibrary Loan and Reference Services (Regulation #54)

Regionals must provide reference services and interlibrary loan services (ILL) for the selective depositories in their region. The regional library typically has the most comprehensive collection, and the coordination of depository documents in the region means that some selectives rely on the regional to access some publications. If a researcher at the selective is interested, a scanned copy of a publication may be used in lieu of ILL, but a tangible copy should always be provided if requested.


While not required, regional coordinators are encouraged to take an active role in coordinating training opportunities in the region. Workshops, conferences, onsite, and virtual training are all options. Consider coordinating with existing statewide or regional networks and interest groups. All depository libraries may request training from GPO or to use GPO’s virtual meeting software.

Popular training topics among Federal depository libraries include:

  • State or regional weeding guidelines 
  • Requirements of being a Federal depository library
  • Government information resources
  • Collection development
  • Bibliographic control of depository material
  • Local, popular, or timely issues
  • Digital or online content
  • Planned or ongoing local collaborative efforts
  • Promotional activities for the collection and services
  • Sharing of new information learned at state or national conferences
  • Depository specific procedures, such as the Biennial Survey or Item Selection Update Cycle

Many regional libraries hold regular meetings with all the personnel from the Federal depository libraries in the state or region. This often may include training but is also used for information sharing and planning purposes.

Many regional libraries maintain online directories of selectives in their region and coordinate region-wide promotional activities.

Libraries Joining or Leaving the FDLP (Regulation #63)

For detailed information on changes in depository status, see the articles Join the FDLP and Leaving the FDLP.

Regional coordinators can be instrumental in helping to identify new libraries for the FDLP and support them as they go through the process of joining the FDLP. Similarly, regional coordinators work with GPO and library staff when a selective depository opts to leave the FDLP.

Selective libraries must consult GPO and the regional library before leaving the FDLP. This is usually done with a phone call. Regional library staff should help ascertain if the library may benefit from staying in the FDLP by making changes to their operation or collection. If the selective library decides to leave the FDLP, the regional must help them properly withdraw the depository collection. The regional can also allow the relinquishing library to retain depository material.

To become a regional depository, a library must already be designated a Federal depository library. Designation as a regional depository library requires prior approval by the library authority of the state or Commonwealth where the library is located. A U.S. Senator (or the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico) must make the designation. No more than two regional depositories may be designated for each state or Puerto Rico.

If a regional depository is considering leaving the FDLP or changing its depository status to selective, they must first notify and then consult with GPO ([email protected] or 202-512-1119).

Federal Agency and Highest State Appellate Court Libraries (Regulation #59)

Regional depository libraries do not have jurisdiction over depository libraries in the various agencies of the Federal government or those designated as the highest state appellate court libraries (44 U.S.C. §1907).

Despite this, regional depositories usually include these libraries in communication about the FDLP within the region, and the coordinators at these libraries often proactively contribute to the conversation within the region. Additionally, some Federal agency libraries and highest state appellate court libraries choose to weed through the regional depository library as a courtesy to other depository libraries.

Regional Collection Development

There are two types of collections regional coordinators need to keep in mind: 1) their region’s comprehensive collection; and 2) their own regional collection. These two collections may or may not be one and the same.

A principal responsibility of regional depository libraries is to ensure the comprehensiveness and integrity of Federal depository resources in the state or region. This is accomplished in two ways:

  • Purposeful collection development aimed at developing a comprehensive Federal depository collection within the purview of the regional library
  • Oversight and authorization of selective depository library discards to ensure that useful publications are retained or offered to other libraries within the regional depository’s area of responsibility.

Keep in mind that decisions made about collections at the regional depository library have an effect on all the selective depository libraries served in the state or region.

Regional Collection (Regulation #56, 57)

A regional’s collection is the material that was deposited at the regional depository library and is housed there (or housed elsewhere under a Selective Housing Agreement). Several different models exist for regional depository collections. Contact Outreach & Support or query Regional-L to learn more.

Regional depository libraries must receive and retain at least one tangible coy of all government publications made available under the FDLP, unless the material is covered by the Regional Discard Policy. Regional libraries can substitute tangible versions of depository material with another tangible format, and can discard superseded material and items later issued in bound form.

Regional depository libraries are not required to acquire FDLP material that predates their regional designation, but many do to fulfill library goals. Other depositories in the state or region often rely on the leadership of the regional library to ensure the comprehensiveness of depository materials. Regional depository libraries are encouraged to have a collection development plan or policy. This will address topics such as format preferences, space considerations, preservation, and processes for weeding.

Regional depository libraries are also encouraged to have a disaster response plan that includes or addresses regional collections and services. In the event of a disaster within your state or region, contact Outreach & Support when you are able to for information sharing and any needed assistance. GPO can hold your shipments or send them to an alternate address in this situation.

Regional depository collections can be housed in offsite storage if the material is cataloged or under bibliographic control, housed in proper environmental conditions, and can still be accessed by the public.

Regionals can house portions of the regional collection in other libraries. If the other library is not under the same administration as the regional library, use a Selective Housing Agreement (SHA). Careful recordkeeping about where all parts of the regional depository collection are housed is essential if SHAs are in use.

State plans

Regionals may wish to develop or update an existing state plan to aid in the development and documentation of a comprehensive government documents collection, efficient disposal procedures, strategic cooperative initiatives, or shared reference services. If you cannot find a state plan for your state or region or do not know if you have one, contact GPO’s Outreach & Support ([email protected] or 202-512-1119).

Overseeing the Withdrawal and Substitution of Depository Library Materials (Regulation #60, 61, 62)

Regional depositories oversee and manage the substitution and withdrawal processes for most selective depositories in their state or region. Exceptions are Federal libraries and libraries designated as the highest state appellate court library. The regional library should provide clear guidance and information to selective libraries regarding when and how material should be offered, should ensure that selective libraries are properly disposing of their depository material, and should provide timely review of material that is offered.

Regional depositories should be guided by the needs of individual libraries in conjunction with the larger state’s or region’s needs. Ideally, a state plan lays out these needs and has been determined by the regional and selective libraries.

GPO does not require depository libraries to retain superseded material. Regional depositories can advise their selective libraries how to dispose of or offer superseded material.

Regional depositories may require selective libraries to retain publications they feel should be kept by that depository for a longer time. This may be because the publications should be available in that part of the state, or because the region as a whole should have more than one copy.

Overseeing Withdrawal of FDLP Material

Depository libraries can use FDLP eXchange to manage the withdrawal process, also called “needs and offers” lists. The regional depository coordinator decides if the region will use FDLP eXchange for needs and offers within the region.

Regional depositories may use three approval options when selectives request withdrawal of material.

  1. Require a list of publications the library wishes to withdraw.
  2. Discard lists are used for material held more than five years. The regional specifies what format the list should be in (for example, to include the current item number, title, SuDocs classification number, and any other relevant information needed) and how it should be submitted. The regional depository staff must check the list for any publications that are missing from their collection.

    The regional may exempt certain formats (for example, microfiche), specific titles, or years of publication from the list. This is done when the regional depository staff have confirmed the regional depository collection is already complete in these areas. Superseded materials may also be exempted, but regional depository libraries may request them if they include them in their collections. Preparing a discard list in the case of a natural or man-made disaster when materials are no longer in a usable condition may be impractical.

    As part of the procedure, publications must first be reviewed by the regional depository or depositories (where more than one library holds parts of the regional collection) and then offered to other depository libraries in the state or region.
  3. Conduct an in person review of the publications to be discarded.
  4. The regional library may conduct an in person review of the publications to be discarded. ‘Eyeballing’ the material to be withdrawn can be beneficial if the regional library is confident that the material being withdrawn is located elsewhere in the state or region.
  5. Require selective libraries to check discards against a regional or union “needs” or “do NOT need” list.
  6. A regional depository may compile a list of material that is known to be needed for the state or region. This type of list saves selective libraries from having to list material that is not in the regional collection, but these lists must be updated over time to keep them accurate and current.

    Regional depositories may also compile lists that have already been reviewed to maintain a “do NOT need” list. This material has been confirmed to be in the regional collection and does not need to be reviewed again. This type of list must also be updated over time to keep it accurate and current.

    If a regional library is confident that their depository collection is fully cataloged and the catalog is correct and complete, they may require selectives to check the regional catalog before compiling an offers list.

If a selective depository library wants to dispose of damaged depository material that they cannot remediate, the library should notify the regional, providing the affected titles or classification ranges as available. The regional depository can then instruct the selective. Libraries are not required to retain material that is environmentally unsafe.

Overseeing Substitution of FDLP Material

The regional may authorize its selectives to substitute material that has been held for more than one year, and should provide detailed instructions on the prescribed procedures when they do this. More information on substitution is in the Weeding a Depository Collection guidance article.

Disposal of FDLP Material Authorized for Withdrawal

After making a reasonable effort to find a recipient, publications may be disposed of in any appropriate manner. If such disposition takes the form of a sale, either as second-hand books or waste paper, the proceeds, along with a letter of explanation, must be sent to the Superintendent of Documents.

GPO Acquisition of FDLP Material for Digitization

Depository libraries are encouraged to share major disposal lists with GPO. Older materials and large runs of serials not needed in a state or region may be of interest to GPO for digitization purposes. After completing the offer process within their region, depository libraries may share disposal lists with GPO by submitting them to Outreach & Support ([email protected], 202-512-1119). The FDLP eXchange may also be used by depository libraries and by GPO to assist with digitization needs.