Visibility of the Depository Library and Collection

  • Last Updated: August 09, 2023
  • Published: October 15, 2012

Public service begins with public awareness. In order to benefit from the resources of Federal depository libraries, the public and researchers must be aware that these valuable information resources exist and where they can receive assistance in using U.S. Government information. Examples of some activities that raise visibility include:

  • Clear identification of the library as a Federal depository library (both in the library and online)
  • Cataloging of U.S. Government resources that are in your library’s collection
  • Prominent placement of tangible collections and public service points within the library building
  • Training of public services personnel to identify and locate depository resources in the library and online
  • Information sharing with nearby depository and non-depository libraries
  • Ongoing promotional activities to all user groups

By engaging in these activities and others like them, you can help ensure your library meets the Federal Government information needs of your community.

Identifying the Library as a Federal Depository Library

fdlpdecalPlacing the FDLP decal on or near public entrances into the library prominently and visually identifies your institution as a Federal depository library. Your library should also place the emblem on or near the public entrances of any selective housing sites.

On your library’s website, you must have one or more of the following features in a prominent location:

  1. An FDLP graphic or digital images on one or more library web pages
  2. Statutory language : "This library is a congressionally designated depository for U.S. Government documents. Public access to the Government documents collection is guaranteed by public law. (Title 44 United States Code)"
  3. Language that identifies the library as a public access point for Federal depository library material

The above information is best placed in a prominent location such as on a homepage. Other appropriate locations include a Government information web page or an “about” page.

FDLP graphics can be downloaded from the FDLP Digital Marketing Toolkit. You can also order, for free, FDLP decals and other promotional materials.

Visibility Of Resources Through Finding Tools and Guides

If your library's depository resources are difficult to find, free, public access is negatively impacted. Your library staff should work to make patrons aware of your library's depository collections in all formats.

Cataloging depository resources enhances access and visibility. Cataloging of all formats is encouraged. Cataloging of all tangible depository receipts is required as of January 2012. For more information, see the Bibliographic Control guidance article.

If your library has uncataloged publications and the shelflist is in a staff space, you should either move the shelflist to a public area or share information about these holdings and how to access them with potential depository users. Describing all depository collections and how patrons may access each format within the collections on the library’s web pages, in subject guides, and in other literature would serve this purpose. Otherwise, your potential users are unlikely to discover and use depository publications.

If your library is not cataloging online resources, create guides to help patrons identify and make sense of the resources. You may link to Federal agency information resources as well as other guides created and maintained by other libraries or GPO. Consider links to:

Please note that the primary audience of is Federal depository and other librarians. As such, linking directly to the home page may not be the most meaningful reference about the FDLP for your library’s users. If you wish to link to a description of the FDLP on a GPO web page, consider linking to any of the following:

For more information see the FDLP Basic Collection web page, All or Mostly Online Federal Depository Libraries guidance article, and the Website Wednesdays series.

Reference Assistance

Patrons should be able to locate where they can receive assistance with the identification of depository resources and guidance on their use.

Public services library staff should know about Federal depository library resources and be capable of performing basic reference, and publication retrieval for Federal resources in all formats. Patrons may be referred to U.S. Government information specialists for advanced reference assistance as necessary. At a minimum, public services personnel should provide research assistance in the practical use of the collection within your library.

When you have questions that your library’s staff cannot fully address through use of your library’s depository resources, consult with:

  • Your regional depository library, which has a responsibility to provide reference services to the depository libraries in the state or region they serve, utilizing their regional depository collections
  • Other librarians in your state, region, or network who have needed, additional subject expertise
  • The Government Information Online (GIO) Virtual Reference Service, a non-GPO resource coordinated by the ALA GODORT Education Committee and staffed by Federal depository librarians across the country

Primary and non-primary users should receive the same or comparable reference services. For questions about implementation of reference services for non-primary patrons, contact the Federal Depository Support Services .

Promotion of the Depository Collection and Services

Depository promotion should extend to all potential user groups, and depository outreach to the surrounding communities should be ongoing.

GPO offers a variety of promotional and educational resources to help depository libraries increase awareness of their library, the FDLP, and U.S. Government information.

Read a list of tips and strategies to help you increase awareness of your depository, both in the library and online.

Download digital images for use on your library websites, on display monitors, and in your printed handouts. Access audio Public Service Announcements.

FDLP tangible promotional brochures and materials are available, at no cost, exclusively to Federal depository libraries.

Anniversaries are the perfect time to highlight your library's depository collection, services, and resources. Read a list of tips for celebrating.

The FDLP Academy offers a variety of educational webinars and webcasts on U.S. Government information resources from GPO staff, staff at other Federal agencies, and members of the FDLP community. Pointing patrons to these resources is a great way to create awareness of FDLP resources.

GPO wants to help your library promote your services, events, and resources. Share your news and photos with us, and whenever possible, we will post the information to GPO’s social media channels. Contact us using the askGPO service. Choose “Federal Depository Library Program” and then the “Marketing, social media, or promotional materials” category. Your library could be featured on the following GPO social media sites: