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Olin & Uris Libraries

Olin: Closed
Uris: Closed

US Government Documents

Federal Library Depository Program


Subject Areas

Federal government publications received via the Federal Depository Library Program are used by social scientists, historians, engineers, and scientists across the Cornell library system. For many years, three libraries on campus – Law, Mann and Olin — have functioned as selective depositories within the FDLP, receiving a selection of sometimes overlapping government publications from all three branches of the US government, including many agency documents.

In 2011, a Cornell University Library task force was charged with developing new selection policies for its depository collections. Current selection policies stipulate no duplication of tangible items among the three libraries, selecting virtual by default; paper only when desirable or necessary for certain types of publications, and discontinuing selection of most CDROMS, while continuing to provide access to all online and print publications via the library catalog.

The library also houses an archival set of Readex microform since the inception of this set. The set includes non-depository items from 1953-2007 and depository items from 1956-2008. These sets are housed in the Olin Library Microforms Collection. Replacement decisions and other collection development decisions may be taken with the existence and character of this set in mind.

Collection Arrangement

Government documents at Cornell are integrated with the main collections and classified in Library of Congress.


Current item selection practice is to select electronic documents, by default; however, approximately 3% of publications from the GPO are not yet available in digital format. In addition, for some research purposes, print publications may provide a level of access that is superior to the online versions. The Documents Coordinator works with individual selectors to identify any publications that we should continue to receive in print. There is a record for every FDLP publication we have in our selection profile, whether the item is available electronically or in print.

Resource Sharing

The depository at Olin Library shares the benefits of resource sharing arrangements in place for the entire Cornell University Library. We have an active interlibrary loan department. Our interlibrary loan system in New York State relies heavily on the resources of the New York State Library, our Regional Library for federal documents. Borrowing documents in this way from our Regional constitutes the relationship which we have with that library, which is geographically remote from Ithaca. We are a member of the Center for Research Libraries through which patrons may borrow lesser-used materials purchased for member use.

Resource sharing among the three depositories on the Cornell campus, Olin Library, Albert R. Mann Library, and the Cornell Law Library is extensive and an integral part of collection development at each individual depository and for CUL as a whole. We are located on one campus, where our libraries are in walking and campus bus service distance. We share one library online catalog and collection of electronic resources. Librarians from the three depositories are active in the campus collection development organization as members of the Social Sciences selection team.


Online documents, which are referenced in the library’s catalog, are available at all times. Documents in all formats are cataloged with bibliographic and holdings information available in the library’s online catalog, which is a single integrated file. The online catalog is available to users both on site during regular library hours and remotely, both on and off campus at all hours.

Tangible documents (books, maps and CDROMs) are freely accessible to members of the public during library hours. Some older, fragile or less-used documents are currently housed in the Library Annex. Items held in the Annex may be requested via an online form and can be viewed at the Annex, with easy bus and parking access, or delivered to any library on campus. In addition, documents may be requested via Interlibrary Loan to any of the public libraries in the area. Professional librarians and trained reference assistants with knowledge of government documents and the skills to find them are available at regularly scheduled hours throughout the day and evening. In addition, the library provides remote reference assistance through e-mail, online chat, and postal mail.

In addition to both historical and current document indexes and abstracts, the library holds a wide variety of commercial indexes which include or are exclusively devoted to government documents. The library user interface provides access to indexes, catalogs, numerical and spatial data and full text documents that are available as networked resources through Cornell’s online catalog. Use of these commercial sources is available on-site to all visiting researchers.