Government Documents Collection Development Update

The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) originated in the early 1800s to distribute information collected and published by the U.S. Government. Colgate University has been a depository of U.S. documents since 1902. We currently receive approximately 40% (together in paper and electronic formats) of the publications distributed by the government.

Colgate University Libraries are currently reviewing and updating our government documents collection, and are seeking feedback from stakeholders across campus. The ultimate goal of this review is to improve access to what's important to the campus, and to identify the role that print and electronic government documents play in your research and teaching.


Fill out the survey to share your opinion.


We are also reviewing the circulation of our print collection and use of the online materials through the Colgate libraries catalog to help inform our selection profile update. Further information is available on request. Questions, comments and concerns can be sent to Debbie Krahmer, Digital Learning and Government Documents Librarian, at



Q: Are we getting rid of the print collection?

A: No. While we do have a policy of continually weeding the print collection of superseded, obsolete, duplicative or non-relevant materials, we are not currently planning on leaving the federal depository program nor are we getting rid of our vast historical collection. We are trying to determine the best way to serve Colgate moving forward.


Q: Aren’t all government documents now available online?

A: While it is the goal of the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) to make government information available online, there are still documents which are either only available in print or are being published in both online and in print formats. More and more agencies are moving to online-only, and many Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) libraries are choosing to go online-only in their collections. While more historical materials are being digitized and made available, there is no concerted effort to mass-digitize the entire history of government publications for the non-commercial use of the general public.


Q: Isn’t the U.S. President getting rid of all government information?

A: The FDLP was set up to ensure that the public would have continuing access to government information. As materials moved to online formats since the 1990s, scholars, librarians, archivists, and other information professionals have been dedicated to backing up and making publicly available born-digital government information as possible. They have also been working on digitizing and preserving important documents for future generations. Some places that archive these materials include The Internet Archive (including the Wayback Machine for all .gov websites), Free Government Info, The End of Term Archive (for .gov websites), etc.  In addition, all government documents (including online materials) received by FDLP libraries after 2012 are catalogued, and can be requested from any FDLP library. At-risk data and other materials are also being preserved by various institutions. For updated and accurate information on changes to the availability and privatization of government information, see the “Less Access to Less Information by and about the U.S. Government” website, a project started in the 1980s.


Q: If all government information is going to be digital in a few years, why are we receiving so much stuff in print?

A: The Colgate Libraries are dedicated to serving the Colgate Community. The FDLP collection carries the further weight of serving the general public of the 22nd Congressional District in coordination with regional and other selective FDLP libraries. In the past, certain materials were identified as being necessary print items. We are currently contacting our community to determine if this is still true to our current needs; we will continue to receive items that are more useful or otherwise significantly different in print from the online versions if it is determined to be necessary for the use of our community.