Government Documents

Collection Development Policy

The mission of the Sarah Lawrence College Library Government Documents Department is to provide free access to federal government publications for the College faculty, students, and staff as well as for the residents of the 18th U.S. Congressional District in Westchester County, New York, particularly those residing in the village of Bronxville and the nearby city of Yonkers.

The Esther Raushenbush Library was selected as a House-designated Depository (0415A) of United States government information in May, 1969. Currently, 1662 items are chosen from the 9139 available representing a selection rate of over 18%. Areas of emphasis in the collection include:   census statistics, health, education, labor, foreign affairs, women’s studies, CIA and agriculture maps, and Congressional hearings.

A Government Documents Committee has been appointed to provide professional and technical support for the program. It is directed by a Documents Coordinator who is a professionally qualified librarian and who has been selected to head the program by the Library Director. At the minimum, representation always includes one member of the professional reference staff and a member selected from the technical services department.

The government documents collection profile is reviewed annually and the Documents Committee examines all available items on a rotating basis. Selection of materials is made by joint decision along with the Head of Collection Development. English is the primary language of the collection, but some Spanish language materials are selected if they are considered appropriate for the surrounding community population.

Approximately, 90% of the collection is housed separately on the lower level of the Library in paper and in microfiche arranged by the Superintendent of Documents Classification system; the remaining 10% has been integrated into the general circulating, periodical and reference collections. Almost all our government documents are represented in the Library's ILS catalog, KOHA; and our circulating resources are shared on local, state, regional and national levels through membership in OCLC's ILL network.

Although the library prefers to collect publications in electronic and print resource, appropriate selection is made regardless of format.   Readers and printers for microfiche documents are available, and hardware/software capable of providing access to on-line files and databases, CD-ROMS, and to the Internet are on the premises and available to visitors from the communities outside the campus. The Library’s workstations meet the minimum requirements specified for Depository Libraries as outlined on the FDLP website at  Our government document home page which is available from the main library page at provides a gateway to many online government sources.

Access to all government collections is available to the public during most hours of library operation (M-Th, 8:30 AM-8:30 PM; Sat, 11 AM-6 PM, and Sun, 11 AM-8:30 PM), although the public is encouraged to use the collection when professional staff members are present. The stacks and microfiche collections are located on the lower level, which is accessible by stairs and elevator.

An interlibrary loan for any circulating items in our collection, including government documents, can be arranged through the patron’s public library.

When a library patron who is not a member of the College community needs access to a Depository document not held in our collection, he/she is referred to the Documents Coordinator for advice about identification, citation verification, and location.  

Maintenance of the collection is performed in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the Government Printing Office as described in the Federal Depository Library Manual:

This policy was adopted by the library in spring, 2000, updated in 2012, and will be regularly reviewed as necessary.

Contributed by Janet H. Alexander, Associate Director of the Library and Documents Coordinator, 1997-