The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) was established by Congress to ensure free access to government information for the American public. United States Code, Title 44, Chapter 19. As far back as 1813, Congress recognized the need to keep America informed by distributing documents from the three branches of government to certain institutions and libraries. Charged with publishing and distributing the documents, the Government Printing Office (GPO), recently renamed the Government Publishing Office, opened in 1861 on the same day President Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated. For more on this history, see the article “Snapshots of the Federal Depository Library Program” on the FDLP site. In Kansas, there are seventeen selective depository libraries, and our regional depository is at the University of Kansas Anschutz Library. Click on the Federal Depository Library Directory map to find the locations within our state and across the nation, around 1250 libraries all together.
Depository libraries offer citizens free access to government information, print and online, historic and current. As more and more government information becomes available online, key finding tools are the Catalog of Government Information and FDsys, the Federal Digital System. Updated daily, GPO’s Catalog of Government Publications includes descriptive catalog records for publications issued since July 1976, with direct links to those available online. FDsys provides access to our nation’s core documents and current authentic information from each branch of government, including Congressional materials, Presidential publications, and Federal agency resources.
One of the Kansas selective depositories is the Benedictine College Library in Atchison. Benedictine Library became a depository in 1965. The Federal Depository Library Act of 1962 (Public Law 87-579) expanded the Federal Depository system, allowing for up to two library designations per Congressional district. The Honorable Chester L. Mize, U.S. Congressman for the Kansas 2nd Congressional district and an Atchison native, made the designation. Librarian Father Colman J. Farrell, the first priest in the United States to earn a Master of Arts in Library Science, accepted the designation on behalf of the St. Benedict’s College/Abbey Library. The library met the qualifications:
- Library holdings of at least 10,000 books besides those issued by the Government;
- Publications received would be made available for the free use of the general public; and
- Equipped to manage and maintain the collection, which remains Government property.
U.S. Superintendent of Documents Carper W. Buckley signed the designation paperwork and officially welcomed the library on May 11, 1965. Benedictine College Library celebrates 50 years as a depository library on May 11, 2015.