Shaping the Future of the FDLP

June is traditionally known for celebrations and outdoor fun, with highlights including the first day of summer (aka the summer solstice/longest day of the year), which in 2012 falls on June 20. This year, participants in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) have had one more special day on their calendars: June 30, which is the deadline for responding to the FDLP Forecast Survey Questionnaire.

The Government Printing Office (GPO) is conducting this survey of individual libraries and states in order to assess current needs and future expectations so that the future of the FDLP can be based on a vision shared by member libraries. The FDLP includes approximately 150 law school libraries and 50 state, court, county, and government law libraries. Depository coordinators in many of those 200 libraries have already responded to the survey by submitting their answers online. However, this important task still remains on the June “to-do” list of a number of our law library colleagues.

So, why does this matter? Law libraries have had a vital stake in the provision of government and legal information through the depository program for over 100 years. Our participation in current efforts to forecast and shape its future is important. Completing the Forecast Survey questionnaire is a great way to provide feedback on preservation plans, education needs, economic and demographic factors, and the relative value of initiatives conducted by GPO’s depository administration team. No previous survey or research effort targeting the depository community has ever included as many open-ended questions as this one does. The information being gathered will ultimately be used for long-term decision-making about the FDLP. If we want our top concerns as law librarians (such as digital authentication, online court opinions, permanent public access, primary legal sources in print, etc.) to be considered, NOW is our chance to be heard.

Everything needed to complete the survey can be found here: http://www.fdlp.gov/project-information. For additional clarification or inspiration, you can view the slides from an April 19 AALL webinar, “Law Librarians and the Federal Depository Library Program: Working Together for a Successful Future.” The webinar included an in-depth look at GPO’s FDLP Forecast Study, explaining its purpose, goals, and how law librarians can get involved, presented by GPO staffers Cherie Givens and David Walls.

Another indication of AALL’s ongoing commitment to the FDLP is the formation of a new Task Force on the FDLP, which was announced by AALL President Darcy Kirk in April. I am chairing that Task Force and the other members and I have been charged to support law library participation in the depository program. Our plans include focusing attention on benefits of the program for law libraries, identifying changes that could enable law libraries to continue to participate, and encouraging law librarians to take an active role in discussions on the future of the program. We’ve just begun our work, which will continue throughout the 2012-2013 Association year.

How can you help? If you are not the depository coordinator for your library, please urge him or her to make the completion of the FDLP Forecast Survey Questionnaire a high priority— and soon! If you or someone else in your library has already submitted answers to the survey, that’s great— you deserve some guilt-free time with a cool drink and your favorite summer reading in hand. If not, please don’t let this opportunity slip by…the days remaining until June 30 will pass quickly. Be sure to do YOUR part to help shape the future of the FDLP.

Guest post by Sarah (Sally) Holterhoff, Chair, AALL FDLP Task Force

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