Government Information Collection Development Guidelines


This statement describes the collection development and maintenance policies for the governement information collection of Earl Gregg Swem Library, a selective federal depository library for the 1st Congressional District of Virginia. The library administers and develops the collection according to the requirements of Title 44, Section 1911 of the United States Code and the guidelines presented in the Federal Depository Library Handbook, as developed by the U.S. Governement Printing Office and the Depository Library Council.

Swem Library acquires, organizes, maintains, and provides services for the information and data sources of the United States government, the Commonwealth of Virigina, United Nations Official Records, and British Parliament materials. The United Nations and British materials are limited in scope. Swem also acquries, organizes, maintains, and provides services for reference tools that assist patrons in finding needed government information.

Library Mission Statement

Earl Gregg Swem Library actively participates in the teaching and research missions of William & Mary by providing services, collections, staff, and facilities that enrich and inform the educational experience, and promote a lifelong commitment to learning.

Community Analysis & Information Needs

Swem Library serves the government information needs of patrons both inside and outside the William & Mary community. Patrons not affliated with the university may obtain a depository patron library card to check out government information in tangible formats. They may also access networked electronic government information from computer workstations within the library but do not have access to printers, which are on university-authenticated networks. Outside patrons may save government information to flash-drives on library computers.

Swem Library serves the Peninsula portion of the First Congressional District, part of the Norfolk - Virginia Beach -Newport News metropolitan area, an urban area dominated by the military, shipbuilding, technology, port, and tourist industries.

William & Mary is a selective, liberal arts college with graduate programs in Law, Businesss, Education, Physics, and Marine Science. The university is also associated with the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News. Swem Library coordinates its government information collection activities with those of Marshall Wythe Law Library and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science library. An Agreement for Selective Housing of Government Information is maintained with the VIMS Library, primarily for ocean charts and maps.

Swem Library collects government information in all subject areas with a special emphasis on economic education, defense, history, legislative process, and statistical topics. Also included are titles from the “Basic Collection” and most titles from the “Suggested Core Collection for Academic Libraries.” FDL Handbook

The following means are used to help determine what materials will be collected:

  • Examination of the William & Mary Curriculum and requests from faculty, staff, and students
  • Requests for information from individuals, businesses, and organizations in the Virginia peninsula area and the 1st Congressional District.
  • Actual Use of documents as determined by reference question logs, circulation statistics, and in-house use of materials.

Swem Library works cooperatively with other librarians in the area and around the state according to the Virginia State Plan for Federal Depository Program Libraries to meet the government information needs of the citizens of Virginia. Swem also participates in state and national interlibrary loan networks to borrow and lend government information to and from other libraries.

Collecting Responsibility

The government information librarian has primary responsibility for acquiring, maintaining and providing service for the government information collection. As a member of the Research Department, the Government Information Librarian trains other members of the department to provide reference service for government information.

Swem and Wolf Law Library coordinate resources to purchase expensive commercial products of mutual interest.

The Government Information Librarian uses a variety of tools to identify government information resources for the collection: the Catalog of Government Publications, the List of Classes of U.S. Government Publications Available for Selection by Depository Libraries, Documents Data Miner, Docuticker, and library review sources. The primary sources for discovery of new government information titles are the websites maintained by the government entities.

United States Government Information

As a selective federal depository library, Swem Library has traditionally collected U.S. government information by selecting item series offered by the U.S. Government Printing Office. However, due to the increasing reliance of the GPO on electronic formats distributed via the internet, and also due to the decision by GPO to issue separate bibliographic records for each format of a title distributed, Swem Library began in August 2009 to receive all bibliographic records for Internet depository titles via Marcive’s “Documents Without Shelves” catalog records service. As a result, Swem receives approximately 90% of all depository titles as catalog records with embedded electronic access links to the GPO Internet titles. Swem now limits its item selections to those series distributed in paper, CD/DVD or other tangible formats. Swem also selects most General Publication series because some important titles are issued in paper formats in these series.

The Government Information Librarian monitors additions made to Swem Library ‘s item selections by GPO on a monthly basis by means of the Documents Data Miner tool at Wichita State University. “EL” format item numbers which have been added to the profile are dropped on a monthly basis. The Government Information Librarian also monitors additions to the regional library profile on a monthly basis to determine if there are any items numbers for tangible items that will need to be added to the library’s profile at the next Selection Update Cycle.

Swem prefers to collect U.S. government information in electronic or printed formats rather than microform formats. However, Swem owns major historical sets such as the CIS Executive Branch Documents 1789-1909 in microform formats and will continue to support related reading and printing/scanning equipment.

Most tangible federal depository titles are retained on a permanent basis. Federal titles which are not retained on a permanent basis include those which are regularly superseded, dated announcements, and pre-prints subsequently replaced by permanent editions. Documents which are not superseded are occasionally withdrawn according to the Procedures for the Withdrawal of U.S. Government Depository Publications for Libraries in the Virginia Region, issued by the University of Virginia Library.

U.S. government information received in tangible formats is housed in the Government Information stacks, microfilm cabinets, or CD/DVD cabinets by Superintendent of Documents call numbers. A few major reference titles of primary research and value are added to the regular library stacks or reference collection under Library of Congress classification. Examples of titles handled in this manner include the Foreign Relations of the United States, the Public Papers of the Presidents, the Statistical Abstract of the United States, and the Digest of Education Statistics.

Swem Library also acquires non-depository U.S. government information directly from government agencies or by purchase from publishers. Such titles are assigned SUDOC call numbers, if one has been established for the publication series by GPO, or are given locally assigned call numbers, according to suggestions provided in the Federal Library Handbook or are cataloged for the general library stacks with LC call numbers.

Commonwealth of Virginia Government Information

As a state depository library, Swem Library receives copies of all tangible documents distributed by the Library of Virginia. Swem Library also attempts to catalog most electronic titles of research value which are researched by Virginia agencies and archived by the Library of Virginia in their DigiTool Repository.

Publications from any agency intended for the limited interest and use of its own constituency and which have no statewide interest or appeal are not permanently retained. Examples of such publications are college campus student recruiting literature, sports, information brochures, course announcements, announcements of meetings, and other materials of merely local or dated interest.

United Nations Information

Until recently Swem Library purchased UN Official Records for the General Assembly, Security Council, and Economic and Social Council from a private vendor in microform format. This subscription was cancelled in 2009, since most users were accessing UN records at the UN website. Swem continues to maintain a print collection of UN Official Records for the three main agencies from 1946 to 1984 and a microform collection from 1984-2009. Swem Library is not a depository library for UN publications.

British Parliament Information

Swem collects British House of Commons Parliamentary Debates and Parliamentary Papers in microform format from a commercial vendor.

Surry Nuclear Reactor Information

Swem serves as the Local Reading Room for the Surry Nuclear Reactor collection. The collection, first paper-based in the 1970s, the microform-based in the 1980s, became web-based in the late 1990s. Technical specification updates and news releases are still received in paper format. Tech Spec documents are housed under controlled conditions in the Special Collections closed stacks. Patrons must identify themselves and obtain approval from the operating utility to view these sensitive documents. The Government Information Librarian is responsible for seeing that updates to the Technical Specifications are processed in a timely manner and mandatory notifications are made to the operating utility.

Collection Binding & Maintenance

Government documents which are damaged or worn will be rebound or otherwise directed to the library’s preservation unit for repair. Documents that have been lost or damages beyond repair will be replaced if they have research value, either through replacement purchase, copying, or digitization, whichever is most appropriate. Journals and periodicals still arriving in a tangible format will be bound in a timely manner. A deposit account will be maintained with a GPO to be used for replacement of damaged of lost items. Congressional hearings and prints in paper format will be sent for binding after their initial circulation. All addenda, corrections, and errata sheets will be sent with the related documents to the preservation unit for insertion according to the instructions provided


Revised June 2010.