Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy: U.S. Government Documents

Page Coordinator: Julia Ezzo

Purpose of Collection

The Michigan State University Libraries are located in the Eighth Congressional District. The Libraries have been a depository since 1907. The Government Information Librarian selects a high percentage of items available (between 74 and 80 percent in recent years) and serves the needs of most patrons, both university and community, with materials held in the collection.

Michigan State was founded in 1855 as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan and was the prototype for 69 land-grant institutions. The University’s colleges include: Agriculture and Natural Resources, Arts and Letters, The Eli Broad College of Business and the Eli Broad Graduate School of Management, Communication Arts and Sciences, Education, Engineering, Human Medicine, International Studies, James Madison College, Law, Lyman Briggs College, Music, Natural Science, Nursing, Osteopathic Medicine, Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, Social Science, and Veterinary Medicine.

East Lansing is primarily an academic community. Major employers outside the University and in neighboring Lansing, include General Motors, the state government, and service industries. The 2021 American Community Survey 5-Year estimate indicate that 48.8% of the employed civilian population in East Lansing work in management, business science, and arts occupations, 21.3% in service occupations, and 22.9% in sales and office occupations. According to the 2021 American Community Survey, the population is 82.2% white, 8.7% black or African American, 10.9% Asian, 4.8% Hispanic or Latinx, 0.8% American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.2% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and 2.5% some other race. In 2021, the average total population of East Lansing was 47,427. 

The Eighth Congressional District incorporates Lansing and Ingham County as well as Southwest Flint and Livingston County. MSU shares depository responsibilities with three other libraries in the district: MSU College of Law Library, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Library, and the Library of Michigan.

Scope of Collection

To serve both University and community patrons, items are selected with both current use and future research in mind. Most items offered will be appropriate for the collection except ephemera, forms, posters, internal manuals and handbooks of no general interest, and pamphlet-type materials.

Item selection is the responsibility of the U.S. Government Information Librarian, who may seek input from appropriate subject specialists, faculty members, or others. The Government Information Librarian carries out regular, ongoing review of item selections. The Government Information Librarian performs a zero-based review of item selection at least once every five years.

The Libraries purchase non-depository indexes, finding tools, data and statistical resources, full-text collections, and reference works in all formats as appropriate to provide better access to depository materials. Current subscriptions include Proquest Congressional, Proquest Statistical Abstract, and Social Explorer. Full-text collections include the U.S. Serial Set Digital Collection and U.S. Executive Branch Documents (in microfiche and online). 

The Government Information Librarian also purchases selected collections of non-depository materials and their indexes to provide users with government documents not available through depository channels. These have included Declassified Documents and the non-depository collection of ASI microfiche. Other departments such as Main Library Reference and the Business Library also purchase materials that supplement or enhance access to depository and non-depository government information.

U.S. federal government publications not distributed through depository channels are acquired by gift, purchase, or directly from the publishing agency by the Government Information Librarian and subject specialists in the appropriate subject area. These publications fall into two categories: publications distributed only electronically to depositories but also available in print or other tangible format, or government publications not distributed in any format to depositories (i.e. unreported publications). Publications in the first category are generally not acquired for the Documents collection to avoid duplication of content in multiple formats, unless the electronic format is difficult to use or does not meet the present and future needs of the user communities in some other way. Tangible and online unreported publications are actively sought. There is consultation between the Government Information Librarian and subject specialists to avoid duplication of materials and effort.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The MSU Libraries are committed to advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The Government Information Librarian selects materials issued through the FDLP for and about historically oppressed, underrepresented, and underserved communities. Additionally, electronic materials purchased outside of the FDLP, such as vendor-supplied databases, must meet University standards on accessibility.