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Regional Library Agreement Leverages Access

By Emily Howorth

University of Mississippi

A new regional agreement through the U.S. Government Publishing Office’s Federal Depository Library Program allows users of the University of Mississippi Libraries and two Louisiana university libraries to have better access to government publications. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The University of Mississippi has joined two Louisiana universities in a regional agreement to enhance access to federal government documents. 

The agreement, created through the U.S. Government Publishing Office’s Federal Depository Library Program, allows the university to share collection responsibilities with Louisiana State University Libraries and Louisiana Tech University Libraries. 

“A central focus for libraries is to ensure continued availability and access to essential information resources like government documents,” said Cecilia Botero, dean of the University of Mississippi Libraries. “The partnership with our neighboring depository libraries in Louisiana is an important step in our continued efforts to safeguard availability of information for our constituents. 

“Together we are better able to preserve resources, provide enhanced access and expand our information services. This is a win for our three institutions, their libraries and the citizens of Louisiana and Mississippi.”

The new partnership benefits students, faculty and researchers by increasing permanent public access to government materials. Additionally, librarians will be able to leverage detailed personal knowledge of their collections, making it easier for patrons to promptly locate and access information.

The designation is also beneficial to libraries. Sharing resources reduces costs and enables libraries to consolidate collections, which promotes sustainability and good stewardship of physical space. Open lines of communication between librarians at all three institutions will allow them to combine efforts for educational opportunities and training.

“I’m really excited about this agreement,” said Ashley Dees, UM regional depository coordinator and government documents librarian. “I’m happy we can work with our neighbors in Louisiana, and it’s going to help us share our knowledge and experience, which is always a positive.”

Each library will take on primary responsibility for certain agency collections. Ole Miss will be responsible for retaining materials from the Internal Revenue Service, Small Business Administration and Civil Rights Commission. These collections reflect “Center of Excellence” designation by the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries and complement the university’s research and academic strengths. 

“Our collections are continually growing, but our buildings stay the same size,” Dees said. “The shared regional agreement will allow UM Libraries to concentrate on growing specific areas of our collection while providing expanded access to resources.

“We’ve been on our own in terms of holding and preserving our collections, and now we have two partners we can rely on to help create the best collection we can among the three of us.”

Since 1883, the UM Libraries have received U.S. government publications and facilitated access to government information for all Mississippians. In 1975, with the support of Sen. James O. Eastland, the GPO designated the UM Libraries as a regional depository library. In 2018, it was named the Federal Depository Library of the Year

This is the third time that libraries have entered a regional partnership across state boundaries. The kind of collaboration is only possible with senatorial approval and designation of shared regionals for the Federal Depository Library Program, in accordance with section 1912 of title 44, United States Code. 

The GPO received signed shared regional designations from Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Sen. Roger F. Wicker (R-MS). 

“Libraries are a vital source of information for their communities, and I am glad that Mississippians and Louisianans will now benefit from this new partnership,” Wicker said. “I look forward to seeing what this collaboration will help produce.”

The GPO is the federal government’s official, digital, secure resource for producing, procuring, cataloging, indexing, authenticating, disseminating and preserving official information products of the U.S. government. It is responsible for the production and distribution of information products and services for all three branches of the federal government.

“We are thrilled that these three libraries are collaborating to offer the people of Louisiana and Mississippi a broader collection of government information at their fingertips,” GPO Director Hugh Nathanial Halpern said. “The partnership will help GPO increase accessibility to a larger audience, a major step forward in keeping America informed.”

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