Three tribal college libraries were added last month to the Federal Depository Library Program, which seeks to ensure that the public has free and ready access to federal documents.
Little Priest Tribal College in Nebraska, along with Peck Community College and Salish Kootenai College in Montana, are the first American Indian libraries to join more than 1,250 depository institutions in the program, which is run by the Government Printing Office.
While the bulk of government information overseen by the GPO is available online, membership in the program will ensure staff at the three libraries will be trained in research, said Judy Russell, superintendent of documents.
“What they are going to do is make this information more useful and more visible to the average person,” Russell said.
The GPO is in charge of the production and distribution of information for the federal government. The agency provides research assistance in locating and using information at its eclectic mix of depository libraries.
Tribal libraries had never applied to become depositories, Russell said. But after the GPO held a strategy session regarding the needs of these libraries this past fall, the three colleges joined the program.
“It’s just a wonderful way to reach what have historically been underserved communities,” Russell said.
The libraries are a good fit for the program because they already are geared to delivering services electronically, Russell said. With membership in the program, the libraries will have the ability to use information more effectively, Russell added.
And having partnerships with other libraries is an added bonus.
“They become part of that extended network that can share information back and forth,” Russell said.
In joining the federal program, the libraries must guarantee that they will serve not only their students, but also members of the community, Russell said.
While membership helps in research for documents housed in Washington, D.C., what the new depositories have in their own building could be most beneficial.
“What we typically find with all our depositories is that they have built their own collections that is of high interest to their communities,” she said.