Center for Science and Social Science Information
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Yale University Library

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Collection Development Policy for Government Documents (U.S., UN, EU, FAO, Canadian)


Yale Library's Government documents collections support research and teaching at Yale University. By law governing the U.S. federal depository library program, the U.S. federal depository materials selected by Yale Library for its collection must also support the information needs of the residents of Connecticut's Third Congressional District. By law or by depository agreement, all materials received through the depository programs must be made available at no cost to the public as well as to Yale affiliates.


The library receives materials through the depository library programs of the U.S. Federal government, the Canadian federal government, the United Nations, the European Union, and the Food and Agriculture Organization. The library also collects nondepository materials that complement the depository collections, including commercially-produced sets of government publications or records (such as digitized U.S. congressional publications or declassified documents) and reference materials focused on finding or using government documents.

Locations of Collections

The majority of the collections are housed in the Library Shelving Facility (LSF). Materials can be requested through the Orbis library catalog for delivery to selected Yale libraries.

Some depository materials are housed at other libraries on campus, including:

  • Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
  • Geology Library (U. S. Geological Survey)
  • Sterling Memorial Library Map Collection
  • Cushing/Whitney Medical Library
  • Lillian Goldman Law Library


Materials are selected in all available formats including paper, microfiche, maps, CD-ROMs/DVD-ROMs, and online. The amount of tangible material disseminated through all the depository programs continues to decrease every year as online formats are substituted.

U.S. Federal Documents Collection

Yale University Library was designated a federal depository library in September 1859. It became a selective depository when the program was reorganized by federal public law in 1962 - meaning that it does not receive all materials disseminated through the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) but instead selects a subset of those materials.

Strengths of the FDLP collection include congressional and executive branch documents, economics, international relations and diplomacy, labor, history, public policy and social issues, and statistical publications. The collection includes materials from 1789 to the present.

Collection development, including selection, cancellations, and weeding, is done in consultation with the Yale Law Library, which is also a U.S. federal depository library.

United Nations Collection

Yale University Library was designated as a full depository in June 1947 (DL-176). It is one of approximately 60 United Nations depository libraries in the United States and one of three in New England. The library is now a "regular deposit" library, meaning that it does not receive all materials disseminated through the UN depository program but rather selects a subset.

Strengths of the UN collection include: Official Records of the main organs of the UN, most sales publications, the United Nations Treaty Series, subscription periodicals, and statistical publications.

The UN depository collection is supplemented by purchasing selected sales publications not disseminated to depository libraries. The library holds two commercially-produced sets of UN documents on microfiche: United Nations Documents and Publications, 1945-2006, which includes both depository and nondepository materials, and Project Reports (United Nations Development Programme), 1972-1998.

Documents and publications from the United Nations specialized agencies are not included in the UN depository program. The library is a depository for the Food and Agriculture Organization (details below) and receives publications from the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Center for Science and Social Science Information (CSSSI) collects publications from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and International Labour Office. Other Yale libraries on campus collect publications from the World Health Organization, the International Court of Justice, the World Trade Organization, UNESCO, and United Nations Children's Fund.

Food and Agriculture Organization Collection

Yale University was designated a Food and Agriculture Organization depository in 1965.

In addition to the materials disseminated through the depository program, the library holds a microfiche set of FAO working papers and documents from 1978 to 1998.

European Union Collection

Yale University was designated as a European Union (Communities) documentation center in the mid-1970s. Originally the Law Library was the location of the depository; it was later transferred to the Yale University Library.

The library receives all publications disseminated to depository libraries. Strengths of the collection include statistical publications, the Official Journal, and serials and monographs on social, economic, and environmental topics.

Canadian Federal Government Collection

Yale University was designated a Canadian federal selective depository in 1961; however, Yale Library collected Canadian government publications prior to that date. The library does not collect all materials disseminated through the depository program, but rather selects a subset. Collection strengths include parliamentary debates and reports, royal commission reports, serials, statistical publications, and executive agency annual reports.

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