This past week, the Hiram College Library celebrated a monumental moment in our College’s history. April 25, 2024 marked the 150th anniversary of the College Library becoming a Federal Depository Library!

On April 25, 1874, the Hiram College Library was designated a Federal Depository Library by James A. Garfield in his capacity as representative for Ohio’s 19th (at that time) U.S. Congressional district.  At the time, only one library could be designated per Congressional district, which meant that Hiram College Library was the only Federal Depository Library in Portage County until Kent State University became a member in 1962.

The Federal Depository Library Program (44 U.S.C. § 19), administered by the U.S. Government Publishing Office, was established by Congress in 1813 to ensure that the American public has access to Government information in depository libraries throughout the U.S. and its territories. As a result, Hiram College’s library plays a role in ensuring access to government resources and information.

“We are honored to have played a role in the long history of the FDLP program. It supports our students, faculty, and staff, and the general public to ensure that everyone has access to government information and publications,” said Library Director, Janet Vogel, M.A., M.S.

Hiram College has the fourth oldest depository library in the state of Ohio behind Ohio Wesleyan University (1845), Oberlin College (1857), and Kenyon College (1873), and our library has still includes documents dating back to 1874.

In 2021, Hiram College Library intern Sophie McCurdy ’22 developed a training manual for Hiram College Library student employees to help them learn to shelve and work with government documents. She also updated the Government Documents page on the Library’s website to provide information relevant to our student body, updated tutorials, and resources.

Today, most government publications are available online, and Hiram College still selects a number of government resources that appear in the Library’s catalog for easier access. Additionally, our librarians offer information and instruction to Hiram College students to help them learn to use government resources. In addition to offering print resources, the Hiram College Library also provides a public access computer for use by the general public if they need to access government information.

“It is exciting to work with students and share the ways that they can use government information to learn more about the nation. I’ve had the opportunity to help environmental studies students work with government regulations and reports and to work with management students to use economic census data to understand the current state of their industry. While government documents are free to anyone to use, as an FDLP library, librarians can participate in additional trainings to ensure that we are offering the best possible access to those materials,” said Vogel.

In addition to standard publications such as Congressional Reports, the Federal Depository program also provides high quality historical publications from the Smithsonian and Library of Congress, maps from the National Park Service, and even games, such as “Space travel hazards: how safely can you travel through space?” which tests a player’s ability to travel to Mars and back while avoiding hazards.  

Further information on Federal Depository Library’s and access to the Hiram College Library collection of federal publications can be found here.

By Janet Vogel and Taylor Cook