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UMD Libraries ensures access to government information through regional leadership role

Dean Adriene Lim appointed to national task force investigating move to all-digital Federal Depository Library Program

Federal Depository Library Program logo.

Visitors to the fourth floor of McKeldin Library will find an impressive collection of United States government information, everything from congressional hearings and census data to works on health and nutrition. All of these physical materials and a growing inventory of online resources are assembled as part of the University of Maryland Libraries’ leadership role as a United States regional Federal Depository Library.  

“Anyone, from students to faculty to outside researchers, can access information in the collection. And that’s the goal- to facilitate access to information that can create a more informed public,”said Celina McDonald, Government Information & Criminology Librarian and Coordinator of the Depository Library Program at UMD.

The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) was established by the United States Congress in 1813 to make government information freely available to the public. Part of the Government Publishing Office (GPO), the program’s official mission is “to provide free, ready, and permanent public access to Federal Government information, now and for future generations.”

After joining the program in 1925, UMD Libraries became a regional depository library in1965, and in 2016, began serving as the regional federal depository library for 59 other libraries in Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. Federal depository libraries are “charged with collaborating to provide access to both historical and current Federal Government resources distributed through the FDLP and deposited in libraries across the country,” according to the GPO, and are governed by Federal law (Title 44, United States Code).

Though physical items in the collection are available for in-person use at Mckeldin Library, much of the collection is also available online as digital resources. However, the disruptions to library operations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic revealed an urgent need to provide still more information and services online. With the pandemic as a catalyst, GPO’s director Hugh Nathaniel Halpern recently convened a new “Task Force on a Digital FDLP” to investigate the feasibility of an all-digital federal depository library program. The task force is charged with defining the potential scope of an all-digital depository program and making recommendations as to how to implement and operate such a program.

UMD Libraries’ Dean Adriene Lim is one of 23 community and library leaders who have been appointed to the national task force. As a member of the contingent representing depository libraries, Dean Lim will bring her expertise in digital collections and extensive library experience to the task force, as well as a passionate commitment to maintain open, equitable, and accessible government information for the general public. “The pandemic’s effect on physical access to information in libraries further demonstrates the need to explore new digital policies and strategies for the FDLP” said Lim. “I’m looking forward to working with the task force and many stakeholders to ensure that federal information continues to be freely available and accessible to all.”

Learn more about government information at University of Maryland Libraries and about the Federal Depository Library Program.

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