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Yale University Library Celebrates 150 Years as a Government Documents Depository

Yale University Library is celebrating its 150th anniversary as a depository for United States federal government documents. John Woodruff (1826-1868), U.S. Representative from Connecticut, designated Yale College a repository for public documents in 1859 and the records of the second session of the 35th Congress of the United States were sent to New Haven in July, 1860.

Over the succeeding fifteen decades, Yale has continued to build its collection of federal government documents by participating in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), administered by the U.S. Government Printing Office. The FDLP provides government documents at no cost to designated depository libraries across the country and in American territories, as well as to selected libraries overseas. In turn, these libraries provide free public access to their depository collections.

The Library is marking this anniversary year with a major accomplishment: the cataloging of the entire federal depository collection in Orbis, the Library’s online catalog. Until now, only documents from 1976 onwards were cataloged, meaning that much of the collection was accessible only through complicated print indexes.

“Yale’s U.S. federal depository collection is used by students and faculty studying a wide range of subjects including history, political science, art and architecture, science, and medicine,” said Frank M. Turner, the John Hay Whitney Professor of History and Interim University Librarian. “The completion of an ambitious project to catalog the entire collection has made many thousands of items available to researchers and will greatly enhance access and benefit scholarship.”

All items in the depository collection, which number nearly a half-million volumes, can now be found in the online catalog and requested for delivery to libraries across the campus. Yale will also share these online records with other libraries so that they can identify and catalog items in their own collections. Senior essays based on research done in the federal depository collection are also eligible for consideration for the Harvey M. Applebaum '59 Award, which has been given since 2008.

For more information about the U.S. federal documents depository collection at Yale, contact Julie Linden, Government Information Librarian, at julie.linden@yale.edu or (203) 432-3310.


Link: Government Documents and Information Center: