Transitioning depository collection to an all online depository

  • Last Updated: April 01, 2024
  • Published: January 31, 2022

What does it mean to be an all online depository?

An all online depository is a selective depository in the FDLP that is not selecting any tangible depository resources by item number and does not intend to add any. Current selective depository libraries may transition to become all online over time by deselecting all tangible format item numbers and by properly weeding all tangible depository publications in the library’s collection. The transition to become all online is expected to take five years for current depositories because of the five-year publication retention requirement for most Federal depository resources.

Converting your current tangible holdings to an online only collection

Before making changes, your library staff will benefit from brainstorming what the future collection will look like. This will ensure that the process proceeds smoothly, as transitioning often involves coordination among various library units.

Having made the decision to weed all of the tangible depository materials in the collection, libraries should follow proper weeding and disposal procedures as outlined by the regional depository coordinator and FDLP regulations. Additionally, libraries should consider how they will identify online FDLP resources for their collection, provide access to them, and make users aware of them.

Weeding the tangible depository collection

To withdraw all of your tangible depository collection:

  • Consult with your regional depository about the general process to be followed.
  • Identify all tangible Federal depository resources in the library’s collections. Review holdings in all potential housing locations, including any selective housing sites and offsite storage facilities.
    • Dissolve official Selective Housing Agreements, as appropriate.
  • Identify material that has been superseded and remove it from the collection.
  • Per regional instructions:
    • Prepare withdrawal lists (for material over 5 years old).
    • Prepare Official Substitution Lists (for material older than one year), if appropriate.
  • Withdraw material remaining from the above lists after the weeding/discard process is complete and regional approval has been received.
  • Remove holdings from the catalog and/or shelflist as appropriate.
  • Consider offering major withdrawn publications through the National Needs and Offers List, a voluntary service.

Creating and maintaining a future online depository collection

Transitioning to an online depository is not as simple as deselecting tangible format item numbers from your item selection profile. Careful planning and periodic review will ensure the collection is developed as needed. The development of an online collection is a continuous process requiring commitment and attention.

Staff in various units may be involved in the following:

  • Identify staff that work with the depository selection profile and update them on the processes to be followed.
  • Discuss how the online only resources will be made available and visible to users: cataloging, online resource guides/Web pages, etc. Some questions to consider:
    • Who are the staff that will be involved, what new workflows will be involved, and so on?
    • Will the process be automated through vendor record services?
    • Will a subject specialist review New Electronic Titles on a monthly basis for resources to copy catalog?
    • Will the library’s item selection profile include online (EL) item numbers, or will the strategy employed to identify, incorporate, and maintain online resources in the collection not require selection of online item numbers?
  • Discuss how access to tangible resources currently at the library will be provided if new tangible receipts are no longer received.
    • Where will referrals go to?
    • What alternatives are available to provide access to material not available online?
    • Will the library interlibrary loan tangible publications for their patrons?
  • What resources are needed for researchers to use online resources? What computer equipment, network access, facilities, and assistance will be needed?
  • What policies will need to be updated to reflect the change in format selection? Collection Development Policy? Public Access policy?
  • How will public services staff be trained to locate and access online publications?
  • Who will maintain and update library subject guides and finding aids?
  • How will you communicate with other libraries and with patrons about the evolving content of the collection?
    • Are other depository libraries relying on your tangible holdings?
Considerations when Selecting Online (EL) Item Numbers

Online materials are not physically distributed to your library, and there is no requirement for your library to select them. However, there are several reasons to consider selecting online (EL) item numbers.

  • Libraries can use online item numbers to facilitate receiving catalog records from a vendor. (Note: This is a requirement of the Cataloging Record Distribution Program.)
  • Libraries may review cataloged online resources, with or without comparing to their selection profile, in FDLP Data Manager (FDM).
  • Libraries may compare their selection profile with new online publications and their associated catalog records using the New Electronic Titles List (NET) in the CGP.
  • Libraries that use their item selection profile in a manner that assists them in cataloging or otherwise identifying new online content are strongly encouraged to regularly review new EL item numbers listed in WEBTech Notes and add any that are deemed relevant to their selection profiles.
  • The ability to view selection profiles helps other libraries in the FDLP understand your collection in relation to theirs.
Modifying the Existing Item Selection Profile
  • After brainstorming with your staff, you may opt to adjust your item selection profile to put a stronger emphasis on online depository resources.
  • Examine your current selection profile in FDLP Data Manager (FDM),  Item Lister or the Depository Selection Information Management System (DSIMS).
  • Identify what is on your profile that is tangible (P, MF, DVD, CD, E, not specified), and flag item numbers for deselection.
  • Identify dual EL/tangible format item numbers and flag them for deselection.
  • Identify what EL item numbers need to be added to your selection profile using the List of ClassesDSIMS.
  • Inform other libraries that may be relying on your receipt and retention of particular titles of the change in formats.
  • Log into DSIMS and deselect unwanted item numbers; add desired item numbers.
    *All item number deselections and online (EL) item number additions take effect immediately.

Maintaining the Online Collection

After planning and adjusting your item selection profile, you will need to continue to develop, analyze, and maintain your online collection to ensure that the appropriate resources are available, in a manner your patrons find usable. The collection must be made visible to library patrons, and staff must be trained to identify and use FDLP resources in public services.

  • If applicable, update the library’s catalog record profile with a bibliographic record vendor so the records received reflect the library’s selection profile.
  • Review WEBTech Notes for new item numbers and add appropriate item numbers to your selection profile.
  • Reevaluate workflow processes with staff to assess if adjustments need to be made.
  • Evaluate statistics needed to gauge online resource usage, and how to best gather such data.
  • Keep online resources linked to and/or cataloged up-to-date.
  • Conduct outreach or promotion with subject specialists and other interested parties to inform them of the availability of resources, how to find them, where to get help in using them, etc.
  • Assess training needs of staff who use or teach online resources. Where, through who, and when is training available?
  • Maintain the visibility of the online resources, periodically posting on library social media, etc.
Public Services Requirements

Depositories that no longer receive tangibles are still expected to meet public service requirements of the FDLP. The following requirements should be addressed:

  • Access - bibliographic, physical building, onsite computer and Internet
  • Equipment – public access to computers, sufficient computers, stable Internet service, printers, ability to download files to external storage devices
  • Reference services, professional assistance, staff time
  • Promotion / Visibility
  • Access to electronic FDLP collections
  • Access to the FDLP Basic Collection
  • Indication of depository status on library Web site – FDLP emblem, statutory language, or other


Regardless of the format of materials, the core tenet of participation in the FDLP remains the same – to Keep America Informed. We hope we’ve given you some constructive ways of approaching a major collection and services provision review. At the outset, having a good understanding of the local factors impacting your library operation, and a clear vision and goals for the collection, will help library staff successfully manage to steer the depository collection in its intended direction. Careful planning for the future workload will ensure the collection remains vital and relevant to library users now and in the future.

It may also be helpful to view the short webcast, Moving to a Mostly Online or All Online Depository.

Contact GPO for Assistance

At any time, remember that you can contact LSCM’s Office of Outreach & Support for consultation or assistance.

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Library Services and Content Management
U.S. Government Publishing Office
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