Contact Information
last updated: 4/23/2012

Collection Development Policies - Foreign Documents

Government Information – Foreign

  1. Introduction
    1. Purpose of the policy statement
      This policy provides guidelines which define and clarify the scope of the IUB Libraries’ collection development activities for information produced by national governments except that of the United States of America; assigns responsibility for the development of these collections; and informs library users about the principles upon which the selection of materials is made.

    2. Audience
      The potential audience for this document consists of the following: IU Libraries’ (university-wide) patrons (including faculty, staff and students in multiple departments), library staff, and library administration. Colleagues at CIC Libraries have also requested this information on occasion.

      The Foreign Government Information collection development policy will be reviewed and revised periodically by the librarians and staff in Government Information, Microforms and Statistical Services in conjunction with other Wells Library collection managers.

    3. Description of institution/department and clientele
      The Foreign Documents/Governmental Information Collection supports research and study in almost all areas of the university, with emphasis on research at the graduate and faculty level. Some resources are also used by undergraduates. Use is predominantly by Business, Economics, government studies, History, Global or International Studies, all area studies programs, Education, Journalism, Communication and Culture, and Environmental Affairs. The clientele consists of faculty from IU and other universities and colleges, students from IU and surrounding colleges and universities, and members of the general public.

    4. Brief overview of the collection
      Publications from federal governments for nations other than the U.S. are acquired selectively.
      1. History of the collection
        In 1942, the IUB Libraries began a separate collection and department for government publications.  Because of the quantity of publications being received it was impossible to manually catalog these documents, so it was determined to house them as “uncataloged”. Separate manual records, using a system that organized the collections by government/agency/series, were maintained until 1997 when a Government Publications Review recommended cataloging all publications except for federal documents within the Government Publications Dept. using the Library of Congress classification system.

        Foreign national level governmental publications were heavily collected in the period from 1950-1985.   Non-rare or duplicate gifts from the Mendel and Boxer collections(housed in the Lilly Library) also enriched the European, Asian, and Latin American areas.

      2. Collection strengths and weaknesses
        Foreign Government Collection: Collection strengths in foreign documents include statistical materials, censuses, and other social science materials including economics, banking, development, education, and environment for many foreign governments. Areas of strength include African, Western European, and U.K. documents. Historically, the Latin American collection is also strong. The key genres collected in GIMSS for any foreign country include guides to official publications, bibliographies and catalogs, sources of general information on the country, government directories and organization manuals, statistical yearbooks, and constitutions.

      3. Subject areas emphasized or deemphasized
        Foreign governments documents and publications on economy, education, environment, human rights, migration, labor, status of women and other topics supporting curricular needs are emphasized. Legislative reports are emphasized for France and Great Britain.

      4. Collection locations
        Most materials are housed in the IUB Wells Library, predominantly on the second floor in GIMSS. Many websites are included in IUCAT for materials selected for the Libraries’ virtual collections. Approximately thirty percent of the collections shelve in the Auxiliary Library Facility. Selected National Government Statistical Websites are being archived through Archive-it ( ).
  2. Scope of Coverage
    1. Languages collected and excluded
      Primary emphasis is on materials in the English language. Only materials in Roman alphabets are acquired for GIMSS, since area studies librarians select, for non-roman alphabets.

    2. Geographical areas covered and excluded
      No area is excluded. Most African materials are acquired by the Librarian for African Studies.

    3. Chronological periods covered and excluded
      1500 to the present, as appropriate.

    4. Dates of publication of materials collected: current vs. retrospective coverage
      Focus is on current materials except for microforms and electronic access to historical materials. Almost all publications are retained if received, without concern for dates of coverage.
    5. Formats collected and excluded
      Print and microform are important formats. Internet access to foreign government information on the World Wide Web is equally important. Very little media and no manuscript material is selected.
  3. Collecting Responsibility
    The Librarian for Foreign Government Information is responsible for foreign government collections.

  4. Related Collections
    Other government information collections (U.S., State and Local, and International) are closely related as are all the subject and area studies collections. Reference, microform, education, business/SPEA, health sciences are also closely related.

  5. Principal Sources of Supply and Major Selection Tools
    Principal sources:
    Foreign government documents are supplied by standard vendors (Bernan, Lexis-Nexis, Harrassowitz, ProQuest, Renouf) as well as directly from issuing agencies and websites.

    Selection tools:
    Standing orders and deposit accounts (Bernan for TSO, the Australian Statistics Bureau), PAIS, government websites and catalogs, listservs including Intl-Doc, and focused web searches are the primary selection tools.

  6. Preservation
    1. Criteria for selection for preservation and/or mass deacidification
      Items are identified for preservation based on condition and amount of stabilization required specifically for housing in the ALF or for shelving in the Wells Library collection.  GIMSS has an internal triage process for identifying items needing basic treatment or more extensive conservation.   

    2. High-priority areas of the collection for preservation review and treatment  

      Particular care is taken with materials that date before 1900 and that have been identified as rare or medium rare, including early British Parliamentary papers, Latin American laws, early census volumes. Anticipated high use items including journals and statistical materials are bound.
  7. Selection Criteria for ALF
    Note:   From October, 2006 ALF selection was suspended except for materials in special need of the ALF preservation environment. The general guidelines for ALF are retained here for review if ALF designation from GIMSS becomes an option again.  GIMSS librarians review collections and select materials with particular focus on the following:
    1. Materials that have already been cataloged will be reviewed for transfer to ALF. Materials selected for cataloging within the retro-cataloging project are also identified for ALF as they are processed.
    2. A primary factor for selection is   to identify materials that are endangered and need a preservation quality environment.
    3. Publications and documents from ceased agencies and organizations, and /or ceased periodicals or series that are not heavily used.   Also attention is given to series that are now available in microfiche or electronic format.
    4. Materials will be sent to ALF if anticipated use is less than 4 times per year.
    5. Items which will not be selected for ALF at this time include:
      • Documents and publications from Africa.
      • Serials that are still being received
      • Periodical titles that do not seem to be indexed anywhere or
      • Those which include statistical tables necessary for reference consultation
  8. Digital Projects
    Criteria for selection for digitization:
    1. Copyright is respected.
    2. Pre-1800 items
  9. Other Resources and Libraries
    The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) serves as the main complementary institution.  For national level foreign censuses the Libraries rely on Pennsylvania State University for recent censuses in microform. The University of Kentucky and Michigan State University are depositories for Canadian documents, and Ohio University is a depository for Malaysian documents. The University of Texas at Austin is a rich source for Latin American and the Caribbean, and recent projects such as LAPTOC ( increase access to journal literature for the region. Northwestern University is a fine backup to our Africana collections.

  10. Consortial Agreements
    No formal consortial agreements exist as of 8/17/06

Foreign Documents

Revised April 2012

last updated: 4/23/2012