Government Documents Policy

Main Content

Federal Depository Library Program

Collection Development Policy

The J. Michael Goodson Law Library at Duke University School of Law (FDLP #0440A) has been a selective depository for federal documents since 1978, and currently receives 9% of available materials through the Federal Depository Library Program. In addition, the Library obtains selected federal documents outside the depository system from individual agencies or through the GPO sales program.

The Law Library's primary clientele are the students and faculty of the Duke Law School, and its depository selections reflect the immediate needs of that clientele. The Library's secondary clientele includes faculty and students from other disciplines within Duke University, local attorneys, and the general public.

The Law Library collects materials in print, microform, and electronic formats in the following areas:

  • Reports of decisions in United States courts
  • Laws passed by Congress
  • Congressional reports and documents
  • Annual Reports of administrative agencies (selective)
  • Agency decisions and regulations (selective)
  • Justice Department, State Department, and other agency publications (selective)

The Law Library serves as the primary source on the Duke University campus for materials related to the law. Other government agencies are selected for collection based upon periodic review of the interest level for their publications at the Duke Law School. This review includes regular examination of Law School course offerings, surveys of faculty research interests and needs, as well as a review of past usage for items under consideration for withdrawal.

The Law Library's selections are concentrated upon only selected agencies because Duke faculty and students beyond the Law School (as well as the general public) are served primarily by a larger depository library on the Duke University campus, Perkins Library (FDLP #0440). The Perkins Library Public Documents & Maps Department currently selects more than 75% of the items available to depository libraries, and the Law Library attempts to avoid excessive duplication for non-law materials. The Law Library and Perkins Library share an online catalog interface, and circulating items may be requested for delivery to other libraries on campus. The Law Library and Perkins Library also work cooperatively with respect to reference services and annual item selection.

In addition to the close proximity of Perkins Library, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, our regional depository, is locally accessible by patrons desiring depository items not available at Duke. The Law Library cooperates with UNC-CH through interlibrary loan service and with cooperative borrowing privileges for Duke faculty, staff and students. Although the Law Library's individual selection level is considered "low" for an academic law library of our size, users of federal documents at the Duke University Law Library are able to locate any desired government information quickly and easily as a result of these cooperative efforts.

This policy and the accompanying implementation documents are reviewed each year in the spring, in anticipation of the summer Annual Item Selection Cycle.

Access Policies

The Duke Law School is a private institution, but is open to the public on weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm (see Visiting the Library). Members of the Law Library's primary clientele receive extended hours of building access with their University ID cards under an automated "swipe card" entry system. Reference services are available during all hours the Library is open during the summer and academic breaks, and for the majority of open hours during the academic year.

Government documents are fully searchable in our online catalog, which also includes the larger federal documents collection of Perkins Library (FDLP# 0440). Government documents in the Goodson Law Library are kept in open shelving and are accessible to library users at all hours the library is open. Primary sources of law are generally cataloged without a call number classification and are kept in subject-based and/or jurisdiction-based arrangements; other documents are cataloged with their Superintendent of Documents classification and are kept in a discrete Documents Collection in compact shelving on Level 1. Pursuant to the Law Library's policy for library services for patrons with disabilities, staff members may retrieve documents upon request.

Access to FDLP Electronic materials is available through twelve public workstations in the Reading Room of the library. These terminals provide general Internet access from the Law Library's home page. The Library website includes access to the online catalog, a Research Guide to Government Documents, and integrated links to federal resources through other Research Guides and Library pages.

Circulation of government documents is treated in the same manner as circulation of other Law Library materials. Primary sources of law and reference materials are generally designated for "Library Use Only." Other government documents are available for circulation to the Duke University community, members of the Triangle Research Libraries Network, and holders of Campus Borrower cards.