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Murphy Library
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  • Documents collection development

    I. Department Name

    Government Documents Department
    Murphy Library
    University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

    II. Responsibility

    As Department head, the Documents Librarian makes all final decisions regarding collection development, including item selection, purchase, and weeding. She seeks and encourages input from the community, students, faculty, and staff, as well as the Documents Paraprofessional.

    III. Program Information

    Murphy Library was designated a depository library in 1965. The Depository's mission is to serve the research and informational needs of the people of the 3rd Congressional district and UW-La Crosse. The 3rd Congressional District includes Barron, Crawford, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, La Crosse, Pepin, Pierce, St. Croix, Trempealeau, and Vernon counties as well as parts of Clark, Grant, Polk, and Richland counties.

    The Government Documents Department shares its item list with La Crosse Public Library, another selective depository in the same community. Its regional depository is the State Historical Society in Madison.

    The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and the Government Documents Department adhere to and vigorously support the guidelines and instructions provided by the GPO in the Instructions to Depository Libraries and theGuidelines for the Depository Library System.

    The major objective of this selective depository library, as well as all depository libraries, is to provide to the general public free access to the government document resources now and in the future. All publications received through the depository library program are the property of the United States government. UW-L agrees to hold this material in trust for the citizens of the United States and make it available upon request.

    In 1992 the Government Documents Department receives 50.67% of the items offered by the Government Printing Office.

    In the event that a patron makes a request for material the Department does not own or select, referral is made to La Crosse Public Library if their item list shows they receive the material desired. If the publication is not available locally a patron is informed of the availability of Interlibrary Loan.

    The Government Documents Department will maintain a strong general documents collection and will make special efforts to collect materials in the following subject areas to support the UW-L curriculum or community interest:

    • Business
    • Education
    • Health
    • Physical Education and Recreation

    Due to space considerations maps are housed in the Map Library in Cowley Hall. A selective housing agreement was entered into with the Geography/Earth Science Department in 1982. Maps and the indexes and catalogs for these maps are selected for every state. A collection of Wisconsin topographic maps is maintained in the Documents Department due to frequency of use.

    Most documents are targeted with tattle-tape to prevent theft. Insurance copies of certain high-interest items which are difficult to theft-proof such as La Crosse Census maps are kept in the Documents office. Lost documents may be replaced by purchase from the Department's deposit account or requested from other libraries' discard lists.

     IV. Language, Chronology, and Geographic Guidelines

    A. English is the primary language of the collection.

    B. The Government Documents Department will maintain its collection of documents circa 1965 to the present.

    C. The Documents department will collect publications emphasizing the national as well as upper Midwest regional perspectives. When possible the Department will select documents focusing on the following states:

    • Iowa
    • Minnesota
    • Wisconsin

    V. Types of Materials and Format

    The Government Documents Department collects publications in paper, microfiche, and machine-readable formats. Paper is preferred for heavily used documents or those with useful illustrations. Microfiche is selected in preference to paper in the case of large, bulky sets such as Congressional hearings. Machine-readable documents will be selected when they offer superior retrieval capacity or large space savings. In the case of items available in only one format selection will be based on usefulness of the item to the user population.

    VI. Publication Date

    The GPO publishes many documents containing information current only for short periods of time. Such documents may be removed from the collection as they are superseded by more current information.

    The GPO Instructions to Depository Libraries mandates that all publications received through the depository system (except those mentioned above) must be retained at least 5 years. Some documents may be re-evaluated at this time to determine their value in the collection.

    The Department will add publications that enhance the collection as they become available through discard lists, donations, and purchases.

    VII. Reference Collection

    The Government Documents Department will maintain a reference collection featuring these basic tools provided by the GPO:

    Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications
    Statistical Abstract of the United States
    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
    Uniform Crime Reports
    United States Government Manual

    The Department will supplement the tools provided by the GPO with the following reference materials purchased from private companies:

    American Statistics Index
    Congressional Information Service Index
    Monthly Catalog on CD-ROM from SilverPlatter

    The reference collection will also contain other GPO and commercial materials needed for general reference.

    VIII. Discard Lists, Gifts, and Purchases

    The Documents Department selects publications of value to us from other libraries' discard lists and offers publications we do not want to other libraries through the same means.

    The Department does not solicit gifts, but gifts received that do not duplicate current holdings will be added to the collection, at the discretion of the Documents Librarian. Gifts that duplicate current holdings will be offered to other libraries.

    The Department maintains a deposit account to purchase documents of value to the collection which we do not receive through depository selections and to purchase second copies of certain documents for the Reference department.

    IX. Guidelines for Weeding Documents

    Weeding is am essential element in the collection development process. A solid weeding program increases shelf space, improves relevancy of the collection to the curriculum and community interests and enhances collection maintenance. The Instructions to Depository Libraries say "Libraries served by a regional depository may withdraw from circulation publications retained for a period of at least 5 years after receiving permission from the regional library." The Documents Department adheres to all instructions and guidelines on weeding.

    General Criteria Used to Weed Documents Collection

    Review all documents five years and older. Then use the following criteria to decide which documents should be retained.

    1. Is the document relevant to the general collection and the curriculum?
    2. Does the document carry a significant historical value?
    3. Is the document of value to the community and the 3rd Congressional District?

    If a document is approved for disposal, remove its record from our files, and enter it on a discard list to be sent to the regional and other depository libraries. Consider placing significant documents on the national Needs and Offers List.

    Superseded Documents

    Weed the documents collection of superseded documents on a continuous basis (See Instructions to Depository Items, "List of Superseded Depository Documents.") Superseded publications can be discarded without permission from the regional.

    X. Notes on This Policy

    This policy was formally adopted on September 21, 1992; however, the aforementioned procedures have been followed for many years. Some language was adapted from Baylor University's Government Documents DepartmentCollection Development Policy Statement (ERIC Document 315 097).

    Sandra Sechrest, Documents Librarian
    - September 21, 1992

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