Government Documents Access Policy

DIVISION: Library and Instructional Support
UNIT: Olson Library
DATE: June 2006 
PURPOSE: To define the level of access to federal and state depository materials
APPLICABILITY: NMU faculty, staff, and students along with the general public


The purpose of the federal depository library program is to provide federal government information to libraries for the free and unimpeded access of the public (44 U.S.C. § 1911). Northern Michigan University's Olson Library was designated a federal depository library in 1967. Olson Library follows the procedures and requirements listed in the Federal Depository Library Handbook and the Manual for Michigan State Documents Depository Libraries.

Olson Library's general access policy for the depository collection is defined as follows:

  • Anyone can access the federal and state documents collection during the library's open hours.  The documents collection is located in the main library, thereby eliminating access issues relating to off-site storage.
  • There are no restrictions of entry (including minors) into Olson Library.
  • Handicap access is available from the main floor (2nd) of the Olson Library.  Handicapped patrons entering from the 1st floor have access to an elevator that will take them to the second floor.
  • Access to documents is facilitated through searching the library's online catalog. The catalog contains records for items dated 1976 to present.  As weeding occurs, older documents considered useful are cataloged.  Pre-1976 documents may be located with a SuDoc number, that can be obtained by searching the Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications (NMU Documents Indexes).
  • Documents are able to be checked out to faculty, staff, and students of Northern Michigan University.  Community members can purchase a community borrower card at the Public Services Desk (906-227-2250) or request materials through their local library via interlibrary loan.
  • Materials on reserve are accessible to the general the public without having to present an NMU id.
  • Reference assistance is offered at the Public Services Desk and selectively in the Government Documents area (via on-duty student workers).  The Government Documents Librarian will also provide help as needed.

Access Policy for Information in Electronic Formats, including the Internet

Olson Library is committed to providing public access to electronic information distributed through the depository program.  The following policies are in place to facilitate this access:

  • There are no limits on who can use the public and government documents workstations.  Anyone from the public (including minors) along with NMU faculty, staff, and students have access.  The public workstations are designed for conducting research.  Recreational use will be allowed in times of low demand.
  • The library attempts to obtain hardware that meets the "Minimum Technical Requirements for Public Access Workstations in Federal Depository Libraries" set forth in the FDL Handbook.
  • The library's government documents workstation has access to StatUSA, Terrain Navigator, and ArcGIS. CD-Roms in the documents collection can be loaded and viewed on this station upon facilitation by the government documents librarian. Turnaround time can be immediate when the Government Documents Librarian is available.  Otherwise, it can take 1-3 days, depending on the schedule of the Documents Librarian or support staff in Technical Systems and Services.
  • All electronic products are able to circulate.  As NMU is a laptop university, this allows faculty, staff, and students (and the public with purchase of a community borrower card) to use the electronic information on their own computer.
  • Internet access is available on the library's public workstations and the government document workstation.  There is no filtration software on these stations, nor do they require a university id and password for access.  In addition, there are no domain restrictions. These workstations allow downloading of material or sending pages/links via email.
  • All of the library's public workstations allow printing. However, there is a small per page charge.
  • There is a government documents homepage that provides links to some of the more relevant Internet resources to the NMU and local community.

CONTACT: Library and Instructional Support/Olson Library - Government Documents Librarian, (906) 227-1580.

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