Thursday, May 1, 2008

Response from ASERL to Study of Regionals


ASERL Collaborative Federal Depository Program Steering Committee response to GPO Study of Regional Depositories request
Regional libraries of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) are individually and collectively facing challenges that inhibit their ability to effectively deliver a high level of service to the selective libraries and populations of their regions. Collaboration is key to strengthening the ties among Regionals, and between Regionals and the selective libraries they serve. Formal collaboration, such as that proposed in the Kansas-Nebraska shared regional, is a vital component of the success of our Regional libraries as they respond to the changing environment for libraries and information services. Regional depository libraries are currently exploring collaborations in order to meet some of these challenges. It is our view that Congress and the Government Printing Office (GPO) should continue to encourage and support these collaborations.
Preservation: Support collaborative efforts to develop redundant electronic collections.
The goal of the FDLP is to provide no-fee access to current and historic government information, regardless of format, yet there is no distributed preservation strategy in place for the born-digital materials that increasingly make up the FDLP collection. To ensure that today's electronic government publications are freely available in the future, the GPO should continue working towards a distributed preservation strategy for both print and electronic materials.
Flexibility: Support continued flexibility for Regional libraries to manage their collections.
The current network of Regional libraries, with its redundant, poorly described tangible collections, provides an inefficient, informal, incomprehensive preservation strategy for printed and re-formatted government information. By proliferating multiple copies of all printed or re-formatted materials to each of the fifty-three Regional depository libraries and proscribing that they be retained, Congress and the GPO have attempted to ensure the long-term survival of tangible government information.
Regional depository libraries must continue to have flexibility in managing these collections – including the ability to continue to use re-formatting to preserve and make accessible older materials. Preservation reformatting is being used by many of our libraries for other non-FDLP materials, some of which are quite rare.
Access: Support collaborative efforts to catalog Regional library collections.
The lack of comprehensively cataloged Regional collections hinders access. Comprehensive cataloging strengthens the FDLP as a whole by providing public access to otherwise unidentifiable materials. Comprehensive cataloging of Regional library collections also aids the work proscribed in Title 44 Section 1912 – “assistance for depository libraries in the disposal of unwanted Government publications.” Regionals are currently attempting to collaborate by sharing information on retrospective cataloging projects in their institutions, but would greatly benefit from a renewed emphasis on cataloging of these older materials by the Federal Government.
Standards: Support collaborative efforts to define standards of service for Regional libraries.
There is no standard for evaluating a Regional depository. In many cases, services and access to depository resources are dependent on individuals, leading to inconsistencies across institutions as staff and administrators come and go. Participants in the FDLP are self-funded and voluntary, which makes it difficult to impose standards. However, Regional libraries should work toward consistent service across states, and Selectives need to know what to expect from their Regionals. Minimum standards should be developed, with input from the GPO, Regionals, and Selectives, and should be outlined in official FDLP documentation such as the FDLP Handbook. GPO should host an orientation for new Regional librarians prior to the Depository Library Conference, as a way to introduce new Regional depository librarians to some of the issues that they will face during their tenure. Positions continue to blur as depository coordinators also are expected to perform duties that in some cases are completely unrelated to depository operations. This makes education extremely important – both of new depository coordinators and of depository library administrators.


Rebecca said...

That pretty much sums up the main problems and issues facing Regionals. This issue concerns me in particular:
"The lack of comprehensively cataloged Regional collections hinders access." I'm not talking just about Louisiana but about other depositories I know of from hearing our ILL librarian complain of holdings records in other depositories. He gets frustrated when he can't determine what a certain depository has because of spotty holdings records. That's one of the reasons why I'm trying so hard to improve ours!

User Library Blog said...

This is a very comprehensive response.