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Erhard Konerding, Olin Library documents librarian, flips through the pages of Survey for the Transcontinental Railroad, dated 1860, located in Wesleyan's Congress Serial Set in Olin Library. In 1906 Wesleyan became a designated depository for U.S. government documents.
Posted 10.05.06

Wesleyan Celebrates 100 years of Hosting Government Documents

In October 1906, United States Representative George Lilley allowed Wesleyan’s libraries to receive publications of congress, the president, federal courts and federal agencies, at no cost. Wesleyan was designated as one of the nation’s few depository libraries, under the auspices of the U.S. Government Printing Office.

In October 2006, Wesleyan libraries are celebrating their centennial as a Depository Library for United States Government publications. Judy Russell, superintendent of documents, will take part in the ceremony, scheduled for 4 p.m. Oct. 20 in Olin Memorial Library.

An exhibit will accompany the celebration. It will feature documents from 1906-2006 and focus on the technologies that were present at the time.

“We are fortunate to receive the publications, whether monographs or subscriptions; both would cost us lots of money if we purchased them or subscribed,” explains Erhard Konerding, Olin Library documents librarian.

Konerding estimates there are about 1,100 designated Depository Libraries in the U.S., however the number is declining. The Regional Depositories, averaging one per state, receive 100 percent of the offerings; other libraries varying percentages. Wesleyan receives, free of charge, about 30 percent of the publications offered in pre-selected categories by the Government Printing Office, and is required by federal law to make them available to the general public.

Students, faculty and staff can access United States Government publications from the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the United States government in several formats: paper, microfiche, CD-ROM, diskette, videocassette, and online. Wesleyan’s collection emphasizes the social sciences, and is strongest in Congressional publications, statistics and government policy.

The main documents collection is housed on the Ground Floor of the Olin Library stacks.  Publications printed after 1976 are listed in Wesleyan’s library catalog, or online at http://www.marcive.com/webdocs/webdocs.dll.

As part of the centennial celebration, Olin’s Special Collections and Archives will be hosting an exhibit inside the library tentatively titled "A Century of Government Information.” This exhibit will feature examples of government documents, which Wesleyan possesses.
For more information on the U.S. Government Information offered through Wesleyan’s libraries, visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/libr/collections/govdoc/govweb.html.

 

By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection editor