GODORT (Government Documents Round Table)

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The mission of the Government Documents Round Table (GODORT) is to (1) To provide a forum for discussion of problems, concerns, and for exchange of ideas by librarians working with government documents; (2) to provide a force for initiating and supporting programs to increase availability, use, and bibliographic control of documents; (3) to increase communication between documents librarians and other librarians; (4) to contribute to the extension and improvement of education and training of documents librarians.

Learn more about GODORT on the ALA website.

  • 1.  Items You Don't Really Want

    Posted Jun 01, 2022 02:10 PM
    Hello All!

    I'm relatively new as a govdoc librarian and wanted to pose a question. In addition to working with federal documents, I also handle and process state materials. With said materials comes a lot of things my supervisor and I don't consider necessary to add to the collection, but are still sitting on my desk because no one ever said to stop collecting them. These items are intended to have a short shelf life, things like bookmarks, wall calendars, coloring pages, things like that. 

    I'm curious how some of you handle materials such as these. Thanks in advance!

    Patrick Frownfelter
    Library Assistant II
    State Library of Pennsylvania

  • 2.  RE: Items You Don't Really Want

    Posted Jun 02, 2022 10:01 AM
    Not quite answering your question - and speaking ONLY for myself.

    • I would say it depends on the regulations/rules covering your state documents program. 
      • (It could be in legal state regulations - double check).
    • Are you in a state documents depository program?
    • Who runs the program? 
      • I'd reach out to them. 
      • I'd do that as someone new to the program, even if I didn't have questions.
        • You are new to program and see it with fresh eyes.
        • You might have helpful suggestions coming from a new perspective
        • People running the programs often like to/need to know who is in charge in a participating depository.
    • Are there core documents to keep?
    • Do you have the option to customize what you receive?
      • How? If there is a delay from updating selection profile to seeing a change in items received, is there a procedure/loophole to get rid of items?
    • Do you need to submit discard lists for withdrawal? To whom? How?
    • Is there broad guidance on time sensitive materials? Ephemera?
    • Is there a minimum retention period? 
    • Are you weeding older items? 
      • The main depository might need items to fill in their collection (esp. when small pamphlets get lost).

    I currently work in a state library that runs the state documents depository program (although I do not work with the program directly, only the documents in our collection).
    At this point, most publications are born digital - and the print publications are usually useful. And sometimes we get only enough print copies for the state library's repository collection (not enough to distribute to all the 12-15 state depository libraries). As the statutory repository of state publications, we keep everything that fits our collection profile. Superseded items, like pamphlets, can be very important for legal cases as well as for research (true for federal too). State archives is part of our state agency, so we might pass along items to them. 

    When I worked at a library that was a state documents depository, I reached out to the state library for guidance.
    That library kept dated items until expiration date - we might keep longer if it related to our area of the state and/or program garnered attention. Same for superseded items. 
    Bookmarks, etc. were kept if part of a kit/package. If allowed, we put those out for patrons/students to take. Yes, even if just one.
    I was support staff at the time, but took on state documents after a year of no librarian assigned to collection. I developed a working relationship with the state library staff who oversaw the program - because there was no one to train me!
    Back then (1997?99?) we catalogued only the documents that we would have actually selected for our collection - as was a common practice at the time.
    I also had a 5 Year Collection on half of one wall of reference office (name changed the week before our FDLP inspection - it used to be called GPO Follies). These were items that we expected to put on discard lists as soon as the five-year retention requirement was up. One shelf for state documents, three to five of federal documents. I shelved them by date received - it made discard lists easier.

    Speaking ONLY for myself and not for any: employer; state agency; library; depository program; state documents fan (okay, maybe I am, a state docs fan) - only for myself


    Jenny Groome | Reference Librarian
    Connecticut State Library | 231 Capitol Ave | Hartford, CT  06106
    Tel.: 860-757-6500
    Pronouns: she, her, hers