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Federal Depository Documents Discard Procedures

A.  Reasons, Rules, and Regulations

  1. Government publications are not property of the receiving library. They cannot be sold (unless proceeds are sent to the U.S. Government Printing Office) or bartered. In most cases, the Regional Library (Illinois State Library) needs to grant discard permission.
  2. Discarding or weeding should generally be the selection process in reverse. In other words, what you select most, you discard least. Please review your item selections annually.
  3. In order to facilitate the discard process, libraries must post their discard lists to If for any reason the Regional Library does not concur that the materials may be discarded, the selective depository will be notified within two weeks of the posting date.
  4. Exceptions to the Discard List Process: Materials received through the depository program must go through the discard process with the following exceptions:
    1. Secondary copies (see #5 below).
    2. Microfiche format -- older than five years.
    3. Superseded materials.
    4. Electronic items on older media storage, such as floppy disks and VHS tapes. These materials may be discarded after five years. The Regional Library, in consultation with the Illinois Government Depository Council, will notify depositories about other electronic media that meet the criteria.
    5. Maps, folded or unfolded, that have been received through the Depository Library Program (excluding Illinois) may be discarded after five years of retention. However, maps with a concentration of Illinois geography must be listed. These materials listed above, with the exception of the Illinois-related maps may be discarded without permission.
  5. Secondary copies are defined as depository materials which are duplicates (including reprints), superseded, or unrequested materials sent from GPO by mistake. However, libraries are encouraged to offer the duplicate and unrequested materials through the national Needs and Offers list (see #9 below) although posting on the isl-fed-dep list is not required.
  6. Materials less than five years old: In most cases, per federal law, documents must be kept five years before discarding. Exceptions are materials listed below, which must be kept for a minimum of one year and go through the discard list process:
    1. Documents for which microform or CD-Rom copies have been purchased and are readily accessible.
    2. Documents for which Internet access substitution has been approved by GPO from Guidelines for Depository Libraries: Substituting Electronic for Tangible Versions of Depository Publications, including:
      1. Official;
      2. Complete; and
      3. Free of charge to the user.
  7. Each federal depository in Illinois is required to subscribe to the ISL-FED-DEP mailing list. The subscription link is Discards and other document depository information are posted to this e-mail list.
  8. The library requesting publications is responsible for any postage/shipping charges. Library materials can be sent through the statewide library delivery service.
  9. It is strongly encouraged that the selective depositories also utilize the GOVDOC-L list to advertise the availability of titles. Lists can be submitted concurrently to both ISL-FED-DEP list and GOVDOC-L, but with first preference going to claims within the first two weeks from Illinois depositories. Libraries are also encouraged to utilize the national Needs and Offers list to advertise the availability of titles. Materials must be posted on this list for 30 days.
  10. Remaining publications at the conclusion of the discard list process may be offered to other libraries or discarded. If any of the publications are sold, the money must be sent to the U.S. Government Printing Office.
  11. If, due to local circumstances, a depository would have difficulties following the discard guidelines due to the large quantity of publications, contact the Regional Librarian to discuss possible solutions.
    Blaine Redemer
    Illinois State Library
    300 S. 2nd St.
    Springfield, IL 62701−1796
    217−557−2619 (fax)

B.  Discard list format

Required posting to: Optional posting to:

  1. Separate lists must be produced for paper, maps, and electronic (CD-ROMs, DVDs, etc.). The subject of the e-mail message should state “Federal Discards” followed by the format (Paper, Electronic, Maps).
  2. Entries must be arranged in SuDoc classification order and must contain the following information:
    • SuDoc classification
    • Title
    • Date of publication
    • Volume/issue numbers for serials (see #3 below)
    • Reason for discarding if held less than five years (example: substituted by electronic version)
  3. To eliminate unnecessary keystrokes, indicate large unbroken runs of serials and numbered series in a single entry rather than listing individual issues.
  4. Lists must be produced electronically. Lists may be sent as an attachment to an e-mail sent to the ISL-FED-DEP e-mail list. If the discard list is small, it may be included in the body of the e-mail document.
  5. Include contact information.
  6. Include the deadline for requesting the materials. The deadline should be 30 days from posting to ISL-FED-DEP e-mail list.