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Government Information and Media Services

FDLP logo

Depository Access Notice:

Beginning Monday March 14 public users can access the Jean and Alexander Heard Central library building from the Library Lawn Entrance to access the depository collection Monday through Friday 7:30AM-5:00PM. Government documents can be requested through the library catalog or by emailing the Federal Depository library Coordinator.  Please note some government documents are not eligible for circulation; however, library staff will work on a case-by-case basis to provide access to government information.

Access to online government information is available as usual through, Vanderbilt Library Website, Library Research Guides, and emailing the Federal Depository library Coordinator. You may also contact Tennessee’s regional depository library, the University of Memphis Library or other nearby selective depository libraries for help with Government information. Contact information for nearby libraries can be found in the Federal Depository Library Directory.


Government Information and Media Services (GIMS) is located at the North East corner of the main floor (4th floor) of the Central Library. Entering the building from the Library Lawn entrance, GIMS is on the right after making a left at the elevator bank. The GIMS service desk is identified by the Federal Depository Library Program logo (see logo above).

Federal Depository Library System

Central Library is one of over 1250 participating libraries in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). The Vanderbilt Library is a congressionally designated depository for U.S. Government documents. Public access to the library's government documents collection is guaranteed and governed by Federal law (Title 44, United States Code).

Central Library is a selective depository, meaning the library selects which documents to receive from the federal government rather than being required to receive all documents the federal government disseminates to the depository library system. Depositories required to receive all federal government publications are designated as regional depositories. The Regional Depository for the state of Tennessee is the Ned McWherter Library at the University of Memphis.

Tennessee depositories have a shared regional holdings arrangement. Each of the six largest depositories (of which Vanderbilt is one) is classified as a "subregional" responsible for different classes of documents. The Central Library has been designated to hold publications from the following government branches and agencies: the President (all SuDocs documents classed PR and PREX), the State Department (all S documents), Patent and Trademark Office, Energy Research Abstracts, Foreign Trade Reports, and all Congressional documents (all Y documents).

Vanderbilt University has been designated a Center of Excellence by the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL). This designation helps ASERL depository libraries coordinate to enhance access to government documents by identifying and specifying which libraries in the ASERL system have the most complete collections for documents from specified government agencies. Vanderbilt and the Alderman Library at the University of Virginia share this designation for State Department documents (SuDocs classification S).

Government Information Collections at the Central Library

Central Library has been a selective depository for federal government publications since 1884, a United Nations depository since 1946, and a Food and Agriculture Depository since 1948. Central selects about 48% of the almost 6000 categories offered by the US Government Printing Office. The depository has approximately 700,000 paper, microfiche and CD-ROM holdings.

Other government information is available at selected Vanderbilt libraries. The Alyne Queener Massey Law Library was designated as a selective federal depository library in 1976. The Stevenson Science and Engineering Library has been a Patent and Trademark depository since 1988.

Access to Government Information

The mission of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) is to assure public access to the information published by the United States government. This includes all government information products, regardless of format or medium, which are of public interest or educational value, except for those products which are for strictly administrative or operational purposes, classified for reasons of national security, or the use of which is constrained by privacy considerations.

The public is welcome to use the federal depository collection without charge. The Vanderbilt Libraries and GIMS have a longstanding commitment to public access to information created by or for the federal government.

During hours restricted to authorized card holders, patrons without card privileges wanting to use the depository can gain access by informing library staff they wish to use the library's depository resources. For questions about access to government information, please ask a library staff member.

Reference and Other Assistance

GIMS staff provide reference assistance with government information. Staff can assist with the use of both printed and online reference materials including: indexes, bibliographies, and statistical yearbooks. Our phone number is 615-322-2838. Government reference questions and instruction and consultation requests may be directed to Frank Lester.

If the Vanderbilt Library system does not have the government publications you need, GIMS staff will assist in identifying other libraries which may have them and assist in making an Interlibrary Loan request.

Identifying and Locating Materials

Almost all U.S. government publications published after 1976 and United Nations publications are listed in the Library Catalog. However, many pre-1976 US government publications are not listed in the catalog. GIMS staff will be glad to assist in locating government publications.

Government Publications on the Web

There is one workstation in the GIMS area designated for government information research for public use. Staff reserves the right to ask users to give up the workstation if someone else needs to use it and has been waiting a reasonable period of time. There are numerous other public use workstations near the main Circulation desk.


Most government publications that circulate can be checked out for two weeks. Items are checked out from and returned to the main Circulation desk. There are no overdue fines for government documents. Patrons may be billed for replacement and other costs if materials are lost or not returned.

Certain categories of government publications do not circulate, such as sub-regional holdings and select serials. Please speak with a GIMS staff member for questions about the circulation status of a government document.


Will Stringfellow is the federal depository coordinator. He manages the daily operations of the depository, trains and supervises the student staff, and administers processing, technical services, and disposition of Federal Depository Library Program and United Nations documents.

Frank Lester is the government information, political science, public policy, communication studies, and cinema and media arts librarian.

Depository Identification

Federal Depository No. 580
Central Library
Vanderbilt University
Will Stringfellow, Federal Depository Coordinator