CSUF News Service

Find a Treasure Trove of Government Information at Pollak Library

Campus Facility Is Federal Depository Library

 
Megan Graewingholt

Interested in the federal investigations into the Ku Klux Klan, the McCarthy hearings or the 9/11 Commission Report? All this and more can be found in Cal State Fullerton’s Pollak Library, a selective Federal Depository Library, giving campus members and the public access to important government publications.

“The origins of the Federal Depository Library Program date back to 1813, when Congress ordered that publications be distributed outside of the federal government,” explains Megan Graewingholt '06,'09 (B.A. American studies and history, M.A. American studies),  social sciences and government documents librarian at her alma mater. “It became formalized through the Depository Library Act of 1962.” 

Why is it important for the campus and community?

The U.S. government remains the largest publisher in the world, so providing access to this information and enabling public use cannot be understated. For our campus, this designation is especially significant as government documents are an important part of the library’s collection. 

Personally, I think this is an especially valuable addition to our collection. Government information is useful for research and scholarship, and these materials do not impact the library budget. It also helps the library serve a vital civic role within Orange County. 

What types of materials do we have?

Our depository collection includes materials from the federal and California state government, as well as city, county and regional California government bodies. 

Today more than 83,000 print and 51,000 electronic government documents titles are discoverable in the library catalog. The largest part of our depository collection is by far the Congressional material, which makes up about 48 percent of all the depository titles we collect and maintain. 

What do people most ask you about the depository?

Most patrons look for guidance locating specific information rather than a specific document. For example, they may need statistics on pollution in California, gang activity in Los Angeles County or nationwide trends in vital statistics. 

Similarly, guidance on filing a Freedom of Information Act request or locating declassified government documents is a common ask. While filing a FOIA request is relatively straight-forward now online, declassified or “top secret” documents were never circulated among depository libraries. Although, this doesn’t tend to stop me from searching for them! Searching the FBI Vault online, for instance, can provide a treasure trove of strange information, like the report on laboratory examinations of what was believed to be a fragment of Bigfoot’s hair from 1976 (spoiler alert, it was actually deer hair).   

Which documents get the most attention?

Congressional hearings are frequently a valuable primary source for research purposes, covering a wide variety of current and historical topics. Some notable content includes investigations into the Ku Klux Klan via Senate hearings in the early 1960s, the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s, the Martin Luther King Jr. House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1979 and the 9/11 Commission Report. Recently, the Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election (or the Mueller Report) arrived for inclusion in our depository collection. 

As a library liaison to political science, I am particularly partial to the collection of Voter Guides held in our California documents collection. For students researching a particular candidate or ballot measure, they are able to see the actual voter guide that was mailed to constituents during the time that issue or politician was on the ballot. Presidential Papers are also a notable inclusion in our U.S. Documents collection, dating back to President Hoover in 1929.

For more information on available government materials, contact Megan Graewingholt at 657-278-3094 or email mewagner@fullerton.edu. More information on the Pollak Library can be found here

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