In a memorandum issued to the heads of executive departments and agencies, President Obama described the information created by (and about) the federal government as “a national asset” and as a means of promoting a transparent and participatory approach to government in the United States. Known as “the largest publisher in the world,” the U.S. Government produces official documents and studies every day on topics of interest to almost any member of the DePaul University community, including the population, the environment, transportation, advances in medicine and other areas of scientific inquiry, the arts, and education. For more than 200 years, selected libraries in the U.S. and its territories have provided access to federal government information in a variety of formats through the Federal Depository Library Program. On May 6, 2015, the U.S. Government Publishing Office announced that the DePaul University Library had been designated as the newest FDLP member, and one of the first to join the program as an “e-only depository.”
While the Rinn Law Library has provided access to a highly selected collection of federal government documents for many years, the designation of the University Library as a digital depository will allow us to be more strategic, inclusive, and flexible in our efforts to bring government information into teaching, learning, and research programs across the University. Government information is the original “multidisciplinary” resource for academic work, inclusive not only of Law, Political Science, and Public Administration, but also Finance, Health Sciences, Demography, Arts Administration, Education, and more. There is no area of public administration or policy development not touched by federal research or regulation, and the increasing access to federal government publications, research reports, and data sets by digital means allows us to “collect” and provide access to a greater array of materials of interest to DePaul faculty and students than ever before, and to do so without concern for the limitations of physical space on our shelves. Moreover, the increasing commitment by government agencies at all levels – federal, state, and local – to promote “open government” through the provision of access to data sets and tools for their use provides a new opportunity for the library to work with faculty and students engaged with broad-based DePaul programs in public policy and data science. Like our membership in programs such as the Center for Research Libraries and the Chicago Collections Consortium, our new membership in the Federal Depository Library Program will allow us to provide the DePaul community with a greater array of resources supporting the Vision 2018 goal of enhancing academic quality and supporting educational innovation, as well as a stronger connection with the government information community in Chicago.
As a selective depository designated by Congressman Mike Quigley to serve the Illinois 5th Congressional District, the DePaul University Library joins more than 1,200 libraries around the world in promoting access to the resources and tools provided by the U.S. Government to members of the public to learn more about their government and issues of contemporary concern. Our librarians will also benefit from new opportunities for professional development that will prepare them to work more effectively with faculty and students wishing to make use of these resources for their work. Over the summer, we will be continuing our “introduction” into the FDLP, coordinating efforts with the Rinn Law Library, and preparing for a formal “opening” of the depository in the Fall (dates and details to be announced later this summer). In the meantime, an entry point to government information services at DePaul is available at http://libguides.depaul.edu/GovernmentInformation and additional information will be added to this page in the coming months. Brian DeHart is serving as Interim Government Information Services Librarian and is available to work with faculty wishing to integrate government information resources into their courses or other work.