Government depository libraries began in 1813 with the United States Federal Depository Program and have spread to foreign governments, intergovernmental organizations, and states. The concept is simple, but the results are far reaching-- provide free access to government information for the general public . This has resulted in government accountability to their constituents, fueled entrepreneurship and economic growth, and promoted information as public good. Government depository libraries are a major pillar of democracy.
Depository libraries are required by law to comply with rules and regulations. While these vary among programs, there are common elements.
Accessible to the general public, free of charge, and at reasonable hours.
Reference services offered to the public.
Trained staff capable of providing services for government information in all formats.
An officer designated to administer the responsibilities of the program.
Materials must be timely cataloged and accessible to the public.
Government Information Services conducts specialized reference and instructional services; manages the acquisition of government publications and related resources, and maintains bibliographic control of the collections as a basis of support for the following depository programs.
Since 1907, the University Library has been a United States Federal Depository Library. The program began in 1813 by an Act of Congress as a measure of providing the Senate and House Journals and other Congressional documents to state libraries, universities, and historical societies. This allowed the general public to monitor and hold the government accountable. In 1907, land-grant universities became federal depository libraries receiving government publications free through the depository program. The interest of the United States government and, consequently, the information collected has been constantly changing and growing to include most areas of research and public interest. See the United State Government Information Services, Actions, and Collections pages for further information.
The University Library became a State of Illinois Documents Depository in the early 1950s. The program was formalized in the State of Illinois in 1967 by a public act passed by the General Assembly requiring each Illinois State Agency to deposit documents in the State Library for collection and distribution. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign retains Illinois documents beyond its seven year commitment and so maintains a collection valuable to researchers examining Illinois' historic public record. We receive 100 percent of the State of Illinois documents and information making the value of the collection extremely important. See the State of Illinois Collection Description for further information.
The University Library has been a United Nations Depository Library since its inception in 1946. Since then, the Dag Hammarskjold Library of the United Nations Secretariat in New York has arranged for the distribution of United Nations documents and publications to users around the world through its depository library system. At present, there are more than 400 depository libraries in over 140 countries maintaining United Nations material from the date of designation as depository to the present. The general public can consult the material free of charge at any depository library. See the United Nations Collection Description for further information.
The University Library is a selective depository library of the Canadian Depository Services Program and has been a partner since its beginning in 1927. The Depository Services Program (DSP) is an essential link between the Canadian federal government and its clients - the Canadian public, other governments, universities and businesses. Its primary objective is to ensure that Canadians have ready and equal access to federal government information. The DSP achieves this objective by supplying these materials to a network of more than 790 libraries in Canada and to another 147 institutions around the world holding collections of Canadian government publications. The Program is administered by Public Works and Government Services Canada. See the Canadian Government Collection Description for further information.