Federal Depository Library Public Service Guidelines


William & Mary's Swem Library, as a federal selective depository library and a depository for Commonwealth of Virginia government publications, is obligated by law to provide public access to depository titles, including electronic government information products.

The United States Public Printer, as head of the U.S. Government Printing Office, has approved public use guidelines for federal depository libraries. Title 44, Section 1911 of the United States Code states that paper and microformat publications of the U.S. Government are "available for the free use of the general public." The guidelines that follow extend that historic obligation into the electronic information era. The General Counsel of the Government Printing Office states that "any library selecting items in electronic formats must maintain a capability to allow for unimpeded use of those documents by its public patrons."


  • Swem Library provides no-fee access to students, faculty, staff and public patrons to in-house use of computer workstations supporting depository CD-ROMs, DVDs, diskettes, mini-discs, and Internet resources.
  •  Swem Library attempts to maintain computer equipment that meets the latest "Recommended Specifications for Public Access Work Stations in Federal Depository Libraries" as published annually in Administrative Notes.
  • Swem Library makes tangible electronic products and services (CD-ROMs, DVDs, mini-discs, diskettes) which it selects available to the general public in a timely manner by either loading the program on a publicly available work station or making the title available promptly for circulation. Members of the general public can request a depository patron card which allows them to check out depository titles at no charge.
  • Swem Library provides Internet access to federal, stat, and international government information at no cost to the general public. Subscription titles are available at no cost to members of the general public, but these titles must be accessed within the library. No remote access is available to members of the general public through the library's proxy server.
  • Swem Library maintains an extensive government information web site that offers easy and timely access to new and major government publications available over the Internet. The library also adds catalog records for all new depository titles in the library's online catalog.
  • Swem Library has the capability of providing government information on a limited basis to distance users through fax transmission. The library also maintains an electronic mail box for receiving and answering questions from the general public.
  • Swem Library does not provide free printing to the general public for capturing government information from the Internet, but the library does offer opportunities for patrons to download information without charge.
  • Swem Library assists students, staff, faculty, and the general public with research. Hours vary during academic terms and interim periods. The library also provides group or individual instruction on using government information resources to college community or public patrons through appointments.