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Government Documents Policy

I.  Mission

The Pace University School of Law Library was designated a Federal Depository Library under 44 U.S.C. § 1916 in 1978. It serves the government information needs of the 17th U.S. Congressional District of New York. SUNY Purchase Library shares this responsibility. The 17th Congressional District consists of part of Westchester County and most of Rockland County (separated by the Hudson River). Because Pace Law School is centrally located in Westchester County and in the County Seat of White Plains, the Law Library also serves the government information needs of Westchester County generally.

Pace University School of Law’s Mission states that it is dedicated to educating students animated by a concern for the communities that they will serve, and dedicated to contributing to society in ways consistent with legal education and scholarship. The Federal Depository in the Library helps achieve this mission by serving the government information needs of the community.

The Law School serves nearly 750 full-time and part-time students pursuing J.D. degrees, certificates in International Law and Environmental Law, LL.M. degrees in Comparative International Law, and LL.M. and S.J.D. degrees in Environmental Law. It also sponsors the Energy and Climate Center, the Women’s Justice Center, the Land Use Law Center, the Center for Continuing Legal Education, the National Environmental Moot Court Competition, John Jay Legal Services Clinics, the Pace Community Law Practice, the Center for Environmental Legal Studies, the Pace Institute of International Commercial Law, and a number of other of other law centers, clinics, and moot court competitions. The Law Library hosts a website on the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. Active student organizations and the curriculum provide the basis for developing the collection as it relates to the Law School.

The subject areas of the government documents collection include the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches of the federal government, and federal law and regulations. Environmental law is a particular area of interest.

II.  Community Analysis

In the congressional reapportionment that followed the 2010 Census, the City of White Plains, home of Pace Law School, became part of the 17th Congressional District of New York. The 17th District contains part of suburban Westchester County, reaching from Harrison and Port Chester in the east through mid-Westchester to the Hudson River and north to Peekskill and Mohegan Lake. It includes White Plains, Pleasantville and Briarcliff Manor, where the Westchester campuses of Pace University are located. The District is primarily suburban, and indeed was one of the nation’s first suburbs, forming part of New York City’s northward sprawl as workers sought safe and affordable housing outside the City. The District contains a number of state and local parks and greenways, but most of its rural area has been swallowed up as workers move farther from New York City in search of affordable housing. Continuing development has increasingly squeezed wild animal populations into populated areas: overpopulating deer, raccoons, opossums, and foxes invade suburban gardens and yards. Even a black bear was captured in White Plains in May 1997. The 17th District crosses the Hudson River below the Tappan Zee Bridge and extends through much of Rockland County, north to Bear Mountain, and west to Ringwood. The 17th District includes landmarks such as Jay Gould’s Gothic revival mansion Lyndhurst, Washington Irving’s charming Sunnyside, and John D. Rockefeller’s spectacular estate Kykuit, all now open to the public. Beautiful scenery along the Hudson River and Long Island Sound is among the many attractions of the District. Intensive development has been slower north of White Plains, for just to the north Westchester and Rockland Counties are crossed by the first of several mountain ridges – the closest the Appalachians come to the ocean.

In the mid-20th century, Westchester County became home to some of America’s leading corporations (as well as corporate watchdogs: Consumer Reports magazine is based in Yonkers). Reader’s Digest built a colonial-style campus north of Pleasantville as early as the 1930s, and General Foods moved to the north side of White Plains in the 1950s. Soon after, IBM, Pepsico, and Texaco built headquarters near the Cross-Westchester Expressway (I-287). IBM has been a major employer in the area, and its long-time policy of lifetime employment was a mainstay here; IBM’s big layoffs between 1990 and 1993 came as an unnerving shock to many. The greatest anxiety in the area in recent years has been caused by corporate restructuring and downsizing at these companies and others in New York City – trends that have disproportionately affected the Fortune 500 and financial services managers who reside here.

Much of the 17th District’s population is in White Plains. The District includes affluent communities such as Scarsdale, Harrison, Armonk, and Chappaqua, where Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton own a home. Those populations are made up mainly of white collar and middle- to upper-middle-class homeowners. During its boom years, IBM – with its corporate headquarters in Armonk and an international marketing office in White Plains – spurred rapid residential growth in the area, and its layoffs in the early 1990s hurt the region economically.

Across the Hudson, the 17th District takes in a large portion of Rockland County that includes the river towns north of Nyack up beyond Stony Point and extends west to the suburban communities located between the Hudson and just west of Route I-87. Although much of the population of this area traditionally worked in blue collar and farming jobs, an increasing number of middle-class white collar workers have moved here in recent years, enduring long commutes to find affordable housing.

According to the 2009-2011 American Community Survey three-year estimates, the population of the district is 717,708, with a median age of 39.6, and almost evenly divided by gender (51% females and 49% males). The population distribution is 72.9% White, 10.5% African-American or Black, and 5.9% of Asian origin, while 10.9% identify themselves as being of other origin or from two or more races. Nearly 20% describe themselves as Hispanic or Latino.

Thirty-one percent of the people living in the District are foreign born. Nearly 40% percent of the population at least five years old speaks a language other than English at home, and 42% of those who speak a language other than English at home report that they do not speak English very well. Over half of the people speaking a foreign language at home (55%) speak Spanish. In 2010, 26% of people 25 years and over had at least graduated from high school; 32% had a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 13.7% had graduate or professional degrees. Seventeen percent dropped out before graduating high school.

Most workers (78.6%) work in private industry. Among the most common occupations are: management, business, science and the arts: 37%, service occupations: 23%, and sales and office occupations: 25%. Less than 5% work in manufacturing, and 8% work in construction, maintenance, and natural resources occupations. Fifty percent of 17th Congressional District workers drove to work alone in 2009-2011 (down from 62% in 2007). Eight percent of commuters carpooled, and 32% took public transportation (up from 19% in 2007). Six percent walk to work.

The median household income in New York’s 17th Congressional District in 2010 was $53,673. Sixty-four percent of the population was employed, and 15% percent of households received retirement income. Four percent of households received cash public assistance, while 17% received food stamps (SNAP). Over 14% of residents in the 17th District lived in poverty, including 25% of related children under 18 and over 12% of people 65 years of age and over. Nearly 28% of families with a female householder and no husband present had incomes below the poverty level.

Families made up 66% of the households in New York in 2010 (this figure includes both married-couple families (41%) and other families (25%). Nonfamily households, including people living alone and households where no one was related to the householder, accounted for 34% of the households in the District.

(Community analysis adapted from Michael Barone, The Almanac of American Politics (2012); statistics taken from U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates 2009-2011.)

III. Selection Responsibility

The primary responsibility for the selection of government documents and collection development of the depository collection rests with the Documents Librarian. Selections are made with the advice of the Head of Reference Services and other subject specialists under the direction of the Law Library Director.

Each year a zero-based review of selections is made and appropriate adds and drops are made during the annual selection cycle in July. Drops are made throughout the year, as soon as the need to drop is determined, while proposed adds are noted in the calendar to be made when permitted. The zero-based review includes reviewing the list of classes and the list of items selected.  The Suggested Core Collection for Law Libraries in the Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program is another important tool.

IV. Collection Arrangement

The documents collection has a long history of intensive cataloging. Thus, the paper depository collection is well integrated into the regular collection, in LC call number order. There is a small collection of paper documents shelved on the first floor of the Law Library and arranged according to Superintendent of Documents Classification (SuDocs) numbers.  This collection is being gradually reduced, as the U.S. Government Printing Office publishes more documents in electronic format and as we continue to catalog and integrate  more documents into the regular collection.

 While many government documents continue to be  produced in either paper or microfiche versions, the U.S. Government Printing Office is pursuing a policy of distributing more and more publications only in online electronic format.  Government electronic publications are given permanent URLs (PURLs) intended to keep them accessible over time. A primary goal of the depository library community is to ensure permanent public access to important government publications by notifying the Superintendent of Documents of lost links and by preserving electronic publications over time.  At Pace, we make every effort to keep URLs and PURLs of government documents updated in the library catalog and work with depository libraries nationwide on permanent preservation issues.

Until 1997, the depository microforms were not cataloged at Pace.  By 2003, however, all depository microform serials and selected monographs were added to the Library catalog.  Cataloged depository microfiche retain their SuDocs classification numbers, and can be cross-referenced to the Shelves database that lists all government documents selected by Pace by title, SuDocs number, date of receipt, and location.  Because the depository microfiche collection was not date-stamped from 1992-1996, in accordance with Federal Depository Library Program's 5-year retention rules, all unstamped depository fiche were retained in the collection through 2001, then selectively weeded.

Depository CD-ROMs make up the bulk of the Law Library's CD-ROM collection. The CDs we intend to retain are cataloged and classified in LC call number order. Those we intend to discard are kept in SuDocs order for a mandatory period of five years.

There are no selective housing agreements in place at this time.

V.  Subject Areas

Four important areas for supporting the Law School curriculum are Environment, Health, Energy, and International Law. All four of these areas comprise a huge body of government information, much of it not appropriate for a law collection. Thus, selections must be made judiciously, but as comprehensively as needed to support the curriculum.

The Environmental Protection Agency is the agency with primary responsibility for environmental matters, and other agencies also provide vital information. These include the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Interior, and Transportation. Several other departments publish their Environmental Impact Statements. The Energy Department, Nuclear Regulatory Agency, and the Tennessee Valley Authority issue material relevant to study in the area of environmental law. Each of these departments includes documents of interest as well as materials beyond the needs of the library and must be analyzed accordingly.

Selections made for the general public include all the items in the Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program Basic Collection; selected portions of the U.S. Census; Occupational Outlook Handbook; World Factbook; Congressional District Atlas; Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics; Reproducible Copies of Federal Tax Forms; IRS taxpayer information publications; USA Counties; Crime in the U.S.; Foreign Relations of the United States; Social Security Administration pamphlets; and State Department pamphlets (nearly all of which are now available electronically via the Internet or on CD-ROM). Most of these items are also used by our primary patrons.

VI.  Choice of Format

The preferred format for government information is now online. Currently, approximately 97% of government documents are published online, either exclusively or in addition to the same titles published in tangible format. The Superintendent of Documents plans to switch to electronic-only publication of all but a core collection of essential government titles in the near future. However, important primary legal resources will continue in paper format, including the United States Code and United States Reports. For voluminous sets such as the Congressional Record and congressional hearings, reports, and documents, as well as federal agency publications, microform is the preferred format. Microforms are also selected when needed titles are available only in that format. CD-ROMs are selected only when the information on them is uniquely available in that format, and searching capability is needed. They are also used as a compact storage medium for voluminous material.

Equipment for using microforms available in the Pace Law School Library includes two digital reader/scanners that can read both microfilm and microfiche, dedicated computers for e-mailing or saving scanned pages, and dedicated printers.

VII.  Indexes

The Pace Law Library has purchased a number of indexes and other resources that support and provide access to the depository collection. These include print and online indexes of congressional and legislative history materials, including United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (in print and on Westlaw), LexisNexis and Westlaw, HeinOnline, and U.S. Law Week Online (for use by current Pace Law School faculty and students).

The online Catalog of U.S. Government Publications is the primary finding tool for historical and current federal publications, with direct links to those available online. Pace Law Library selects online depository indexes such as the Energy Citations Database, and maintains a database containing a piece-level inventory of all government documents, in all formats, that the Library selects and receives.

Retrospective materials include CIS Congressional Serial Set microfiche (including the American State Papers) from 1789 to 1970, CIS U.S. Congressional Documents (1970-1980), the U.S. Congressional Serial Set (1981-1996), and House and Senate Hearings, Prints, and Publications (1997-present) from the Federal Depository Library Program. The Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations are now available online from their inception to the present through the Law Library’s subscription to HeinOnline, and are also available online from the U.S. Government Printing Office. The United States Reports are complete in all editions, supplemented by a substantial run of Records and Briefs and Oral Arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, and complete sets of the United States Statutes at Large and the United States Code

VIII.  Resource Sharing

The Law Library is not able to single-handedly meet all the government information needs of the 17th Congressional District, so some cooperation among depositories is needed. Pace Law Library participates in METRO’s Government Documents Interest Group (GODIG) and with documents librarians nationwide through AALL and GOVDOC-L, a government documents listserv. Substantial information not appropriate for the Law Library collection, but of interest to area residents, is available over the Internet and can be accessed at the Pace University Law School Library. The Law Library is part of several consortia, including WALDO, NELLCO, and METRO. WALDO is the Westchester Academic Library Directors Organization and includes academic libraries in Westchester County. The New England Law Library Consortium (NELLCO) is a non-profit corporation that provides mechanisms for resource sharing among law libraries. Pace Law Library is active in several library associations, including the Westchester Library Association, LLAGNY, and AALL. The online catalog is shared among all the Pace University libraries.

IX.  Collection Evaluation

Each year a zero-based collection review is made. The library selects approximately 16% of U.S. Government Publications. Appropriate items will be added to the selection list based on notes compiled during the year. These numbers are listed in the Documents Librarian’s calendar when the selection cycle is due.

Selections are made based upon the law school curriculum and the community’s needs. Guidance is provided by the FDLP’s Suggested Core Collection for Law Libraries, Essential Titles for Public Use in Paper or Other Tangible Format, and the Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program, Basic Collection. The Federal Depository Library Program’s WEBTech Notes is another valuable tool in making selections. Selection profiles and collection development policies for other 17th Congressional District depositories and other law libraries are also examined for guidance.

X.  Weeding and Maintenance

The collection will be maintained in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program.

An accurate shelf list of all depository publications will be maintained in a database, and shipping lists retained as supporting records.  All documents will be stamped in accordance with the Instructions. Looseleaf materials will be placed in binders before they are placed on the shelves. Other types of materials will be prepared for use before they are shelved. Serials will be bound as appropriate. Shipping materials must be removed.

Superseded documents shall be withdrawn promptly unless a decision has been made to retain them for research purposes. Notes regarding supersession are included in the Shelves database. Other documents will be reviewed after retention for five years. Items will be withdrawn from the collection in accordance with guidelines issued by the New York State Library:

  • The piece is not relevant to the law library collection,
  • Item is no longer current,
  • Item is little used,
  • Item is duplicated in the collection,
  • Item is replaced by another format.

Weeding is done in accordance with 44 U.S.C. § 1912 and guidelines issued by the New York State Library. Materials are to be listed and submitted to the Regional library electronically. They will then be loaded to a Needs & Offers webpage for thirty days. Microforms do not have to be exhaustively listed. See Federal Depository Library Handbook § 5.14.B, Discards by Selective Depositories (last updated October 2010).

XI.  Access

All government documents are maintained so as to be accessible for public use in the Pace Law Library. Paper publications are either cataloged and shelved in the regular collection by LC call number, or else maintained in Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc) number order in the Government Documents section on the Law Library’s first floor. All holdings are listed in the Shelves database, with notes on location of each item and LC call number where applicable.

Depository microforms are maintained in Lektrievers on the first level of the Library. The large collection of congressional microfiche is accessible using the CIS Indexes and the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications. A Microform Finding Aid prepared by the Documents/Special Collections Librarian lists all microforms and their locations.

The Reference Desk is staffed with a professional librarian knowledgeable in government documents from 10 AM to 8 PM Monday through Thursday, 10 AM to 5 PM on Friday, and 11 AM to 5 PM on Saturday and Sunday (hours subject to some variation). 

Updated August 1, 2013