The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), administered by the U.S. Government Printing Office, has distributed documents to libraries since the early 19th century. The rationale for the program rests with an idea proffered by James Madison in a letter written in 1822:
"A popular government without popular information, or means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."*
The widespread geographic distribution of government documents provides citizens with information about the workings of their government, and it also helps to insure the survival of documents over long periods of time.
Electronic distribution has proven a great benefit to public access, and Federal depository libraries continue to link people to government documents, whether physically in the library or via the Internet.
*James Madison, Letter to W. T. Berry, Aug. 4, 1822, in Letters and Other Writings of James Madison (Philip R. Fendall, ed., Lippincott, 1865), vol. III, p. 276.
The Criss Library catalog search box appears on the library homepage and in many of the research guides. You may search the catalog to identify books and other items owned by the library. The catalog also retrieves records giving locations and call numbers for over 250,000 government documents. Many of these records provide links to copies hosted online by the U.S. Government Printing Office and Nebraska Library Commission.
After entering a search, look for the Topic menu in the left column of the results and click Government Documents to filter the results to just government documents.
Here are two images from catalog results lists. In the catalog, titles may be clicked to retrieve more information about the items. Also, note the View Now links for online access:
The NLC distributed copies on microfiche cards, encompassing some 40,000 documents by 2005. The microfiche program ceased in 2005 after electronic distribution was established.
Several times each year, the NLC posts a list of recently acquired documents, and Criss Library uses these lists to identify and catalog Nebraska documents. The catalog records include links to the online copies, which are hosted by the NLC.