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WMU retains Michigan documents depository status

Nov. 15, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's Waldo Library is among only 11 libraries in the state to be designated a Michigan documents depository following an extensive revision of the depository program earlier this year.

The Michigan Documents Depository Program, operated by the Library of Michigan, is the primary way the state disseminates information resources to its citizens. Under the revision, the depository libraries have been reduced from 54 to 11, while the primary format for acquiring and preserving state documents has been changed from print to electronic media.

As one of the 11 successful libraries that bid to retain their depository designations, WMU's Waldo Library will continue receiving physical copies of Michigan's core documents as well as documents that are still issued in print form.

Michael McDonnell, head of Waldo Library's government documents and map section, notes that most state publications are now digital rather than print publications and a growing number of state documents are only being published on the Internet.

"Many digital documents posted on the Web get lost over time or are simply replaced with updated versions each year," McDonnell says. "Instead of printing and copying that material, then physically distributing it to all of the depository libraries, the state library wanted to spend more of its time on gathering and archiving the digital material before it's lost or replaced."

The general public is usually interested in current information, McDonnell says. But farmers, researchers, legislators and other groups often still need information that spans years.

"Many governmental departments in Michigan have stopped printing annual reports in favor of posting them online," he says. "And only the current editions of documents are being posted right now for things like hunting and fishing guides, the Buyers' Guide to Auto Insurance, and the Farm Market, U-Pick and Agricultural Tourism Directory. This trend is only going to continue."

To ensure online materials remain available, the Library of Michigan captures and catalogs them and preserves copies through the Online Computer Library Center's Digital Archive. Depository libraries are responsible for making the material available to all Michigan citizens by including it in their catalogs and allowing it to circulate through the Michigan e-Library Catalog (MeLCat).

Although the new depository program concentrates on preserving digital documents, McDonnell says it also includes more emphasis on outreach, training and education, with depository libraries playing a bigger role in the latter three areas.

"In light of many recent events at both the state and federal levels, citizen interest in the workings of their government has risen," McDonnell says. "It's important for libraries to keep working to make government information easily available to all of us. We hope that the new Michigan Documents Depository Program with its focus on education as well as access will help in this effort."

In addition to being a state documents depository library, Waldo Library also is a depository for federal documents. Federal holdings consist of a collection of paper, microfiche and CD-ROM copies of publications from the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government. Most of this collection dates from 1963, the same year Waldo was designated a selective depository for publications available from the U.S. Government Printing Office.

In addition, the library became a depository for United States Geological Survey maps in 1969 and its Archives and Regional History Collections was designated by the Michigan Historical Commission in 1962 as a State Archives repository for the public records of 12 counties in southwest Michigan.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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