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Geoffrey Swindells's picture

Title 44 Alert: What You Can Do

Dear colleague,

We expect that a bill revising Title 44 of the U.S. Code will be introduced in the House of Representatives very soon. While we do not yet know what shape the legislation will take when introduced, this is expected to be a major revision of Title 44, with far-reaching consequences for access to federal government information and for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). Read on for background on this issue, as well as two steps you can take right now to advocate for a stronger, more effective FDLP.


In June 2017, Davita Vance-Cooks, then Director of the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO), charged the Depository Library Council with making recommendations for changes to Title 44 of the U.S. Code. While GPO’s request focused on reforming Chapter 19, which governs the FDLP, over the course of the summer and early fall it became clear that the Committee on House Administration (CHA) intended a rewrite of all of the chapters of Title 44 that pertain to GPO, releasing draft legislation on December 11, 2017.

The Government Documents Round Table (GODORT) has long advocated for supporting and improving the FDLP to strengthen this centerpiece of participatory democracy. Throughout the summer and fall of 2017, we have been working closely with the ALA Washington Office to advocate for changes to Chapter 19 that would recognize the challenges and opportunities occasioned by contemporary federal information dissemination practices, while maintaining the core values of the program.


Here’s what you can do right now, in advance of any actions in Congress:

●      Inform yourself about the issues.  Read ALA’s recommendations for modernizing Title 44, issued in September. Review the CHA’s latest draft legislation and the analyses prepared by GPO and Free Government Information.

●      Contact the government affairs office at your library or its parent institution as soon as possible. Tell them about the value that membership in the FDLP brings to your user community. Find out how you can help your institution advocate for a stronger, more effective program.

To help you communicate within your institution, and with your Representative and Senators, see the attached “What is the FDLP?” information sheet, also available on ALA Connect. You are welcome to distribute and use this document as you see fit.

Do you want to know more? Are you interested in becoming involved in GODORT’s advocacy around Title 44 revisions? If so, please contact:

Geoff Swindells

Chair, GODORT Legislation Committee


What is the FDLP Jan2018 rev-2.pdf737.06 KB
James Jacobs's picture

Thanks for the call to action Geoff. What folks should know is that action is *critical* because this “reform” bill is mostly a GPO train wreck with a few nice FDLP crumbs on top that in chapters 1 and 3 will gut GPO’s budget and hamstring it from doing any of the good things in chapter 5 that supports libraries, public access and the FDLP. So contacting your Representatives and Senators -- especially if they're on the Committee on House Administration or the Joint Committee on Printing! For more background, please see the following FGI posts:

GPO releases comments on draft Title 44 reform bill

Suggestions for Revisions to Chapter 5 of the Title 44 Bill