U.S. Government Documents Collection Development Policy


Oviatt Library is a selective federal depository library, designated by law to serve residents of the congressional district in which the library is located. The Library is located on the campus of California State University, Northridge in the San Fernando Valley, a demographically and economically diverse area with a population of approximately 1.8 million people. Residents of other local congressional districts that lack a federal depository should also be served when they choose to use this library; the strengths and weaknesses of collections at other local depository libraries may be considered in selection decisions and when making referrals. The Library collects U.S. government documents, at various levels of comprehensiveness, to support the subject areas in which California State University, Northridge offers degree programs and to meet local community needs for government information. The depository collection should include the federal government information materials that best meet the needs of the local community and the university. Free unimpeded public access to the federal depository collection is required by law.


Titles of an academic nature and/or research usefulness (both current and future) are preferred, but selection is not limited to those genres if the content is important for the library’s support of the curriculum and/or the public’s need for government information. The library currently selects about 25% of items from almost every federal agency. Increasingly, online is the the preferred format within federal guidelines for selective depositories, but all formats are collected: online, print, microform, and tangible electronic (such as DVD or CD-ROM if it is the only format available). Cost/benefit factors, as well as relative availability, shall be considered in whether to select a depository item which is in a tangible format or, instead, either to purchase those titles that are needed as they are needed or to rely on online access, referral, or interlibrary loan (usually from the California State Library, as it is the regional federal depository library for California, i.e. the library required to collect and retain all federal publications). As appropriate, non-depository government publications and/or retrospective titles may also be collected.

Selection of depository federal documents is made by the Government Documents Librarian with consultation, as needed or appropriate, with relevant Librarian Subject Specialists. It is the responsibility of the Library’s subject specialists to determine the level of collection comprehensiveness/depth in each subject area and to acquire appropriate reference sources to support use of the depository collection. Since the library is a federal depository library and has specific responsibilities and legal obligations as a result, the Government Documents Librarian shall additionally consider federal depository library obligations/rules/regulations and provisions of the California State Plan for U.S. Government Information when making collection development decisions. Both proactive selection techniques (considering anticipated need) and reactive selection techniques (reflecting expressed needs from patron feedback, user surveys, purl referrals, etc.) should be utilized when making selection decisions.

By a selective housing agreement (official contract), the University’s Geography Department Map Library will house sheet maps. The Government Documents Librarian will consult with the Map Curator regarding the selection as new depository items become available which pertain to maps or as other circumstances dictate.

The library’s general policies regarding collection development, gifts, resource sharing, cataloging, and collection maintenance issues apply to depository resources unless additional specific procedures or policies have been developed to meet depository library requirements articulated by the Government Printing Office or the California State Library. Tangible electronic depository titles that require the use of obsolete software/hardware should be withdrawn. Any discarding of U.S. Government documents, either in print, online, or tangible formats needs to adhere to current regulations.

Exclusions: The library will not collect tangible items for which little demand is anticipated or for which adequate housing, staffing, or expertise is not available. Examples of such materials include posters, patents, and military specifications. This principle also applies to the selection and cataloging of online resources. Format, language, subject, breadth or narrowness of focus, age-appropriateness, and the previous level of use of any similar materials in the depository collection are among the factors normally considered when determining anticipated demand.

Revised: 14 May 2013 (Kathy Dabbour)

Created: 29 April 2003 (M. Finley); modified 27 August 2009 (M. Finley); 21 December 2010 (J. Quiñónez-Skinner); 1 June 2012 (K. Dabbour);