Federal Depository Library Program

Assuring public access to government information is of great importance to the library community. Libraries of all types provide essential services by providing public access to no-fee government information. Over many decades, ALA has supported and recognized the importance of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), which is administered by Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc) within the Government Publishing Office (GPO). The more than 1,100 Federal Depository Libraries have worked for decades to ensure future generations would have no-fee access to government information.

FDLP Modernization Act of 2018 - Summary of Key Provisions

The bipartisan FDLP Modernization Act of 2018 (H.R. 5305) was introduced on March 15, 2018. The bill was developed with the input of the library community following a series of public hearings in 2017, which included testimony from librarians. The bill would modernize the FDLP and the GPO's public access programs, which are managed by the Superintendent of Documents. In particular, the bill:

  • Improves access to electronic information
  • Modernizes the FDLP
  • Improves the preservation of government information
  • Increases transparency and oversight

Improves access to electronic information

  • Fully incorporates electronic information: Replaces pre-internet provisions with terminology that fully incorporates electronic information. Clearly requires agencies to provide published information to the public access programs regardless of format.
  • Guarantees free public access: Codifies free public access to GPO’s online repository (govinfo.gov). Eliminates current provisions giving GPO the option to charge access fees.
  • Supports digitization: Authorizes SuDoc to digitize historical publications for public access through the repository. Authorizes SuDoc to collaborate with libraries on digitization.
  • Modernizes online repository and services: Directs GPO to make information available in open and bulk formats. Directs GPO to authenticate publications in the online repository. Directs GPO to protect the privacy of users of the online repository.
  • Directs SuDoc to offer digital deposit to interested libraries.
  • Modernizes cataloging: Guarantees free access to cataloging data produced by SuDoc. Requires agencies to provide SuDoc with metadata to enable cataloging. Directs SuDoc to catalog fugitive publications.

Modernizes the FDLP

  • Modernizes program rules: Provides greater flexibility for SuDoc to update program rules while balancing the interests of various types of libraries. Eliminates outdated requirements and streamlines participation. Facilitates collaboration among Depository Libraries and SuDoc. Creates a new program role with simpler requirements to allow more libraries to join.
  • Encourages agency compliance: Directs GPO to oversee agency compliance with the requirement to provide publications to libraries. Authorizes SuDoc to obtain fugitive publications.
  • Updates program authorities: Gives GPO broad authority to enhance public access. Authorizes GPO to accept gifts (such as digitized publications or metadata). Clarifies and narrows how publications can be recalled from public access.
  • Protects Federal Depository Libraries: Continues every current Selective Depository Library and Regional Depository Library in its existing role. Provides that SuDoc cannot terminate a library from the program without first offering an opportunity for remediation.

Improves the preservation of government information

  • Creates preservation authority: Gives GPO authority to ensure permanent public access to government information.
  • Requires preservation of electronic information: Directs GPO to preserve publications in the repository.
  • Creates preservation partnerships: Establishes Preservation Depository Libraries to preserve government information. Allows SuDoc to establish additional preservation partnerships, such as with national libraries.

Increases transparency and oversight

  • Provides rulemaking authority: Gives GPO authority to make rules regarding the FDLP and public access programs. Requires GPO to give libraries the opportunity to comment on proposed rules and to give due consideration to comments. Requires rules to be published in the Federal Register. Requires GPO to review its rules every 3 years and update as necessary.
  • Requires regular reporting: Requires GPO to send semiannual reports to Congress with specified information about the FDLP. Requires GPO to post the reports publicly online.
  • Requires Government Accountability Office review: Directs the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the implementation of the bill, compliance by federal agencies with its requirements, and its effectiveness at providing public access to government information. Directs GAO to report its results to Congress within 3 years.

For more information, please visit the American Association of Law Libraries’ section-by-section analysis of H.R. 5305.

Related Materials

Staff Contact Information

Gavin Baker
Assistant Director, Public Policy & Advocacy

Last updated April 13, 2018.