The Olive Tree
The Russians were early into their experiment with parliamentary democracy. The
British Army was withdrawing from a foreign country. A senator resigned his
seat. The Maine Legislature was hassling over the University of Maine budget
Yesterday? Last week? No, all this happened in early March 1907 when Congress directed something of benefit to the University of Maine and to the state as a whole.
The Norton Amendments enacted on March 1, 1907 designated all Land Grant Colleges — including the University of Maine — as federal depositories. To bolster scientific and political research and to assist in building an informed citizenry, from then on UMaine’s library would receive, free, all new government publications as they were issued in Washington.
Fast forward to 2007, a significant year in the history of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), marking the 100th anniversary of the largest group of libraries ever to enter the program in a single year. Since its establishment by Congress in 1813, the FDLP has collected, organized and preserved information published by the federal government. In turn, its participating depositories assist people in locating and using federal information. Libraries designated as depositories provide local, no-fee access to anyone.
The University of Maine’s Raymond H. Fogler library has recently been recognized by the Government Printing Office in Washington for its commitment to 100 years of service as a depository library. To commemorate the milestone, the GPO sent a crystal plaque to honor the library’s participation. The plaque will be part of a display that can be viewed at the library through the end of March.
“The University of Maine Library had actually been serving as a depository library prior to 1907, receiving a small selection,” explains Frank Wihbey, Head of the Department of Government Publications, Maps, GIS & Microforms. For example, a few documents were given to the University library directly by members of Congress in the late 1800s.
Wihbey explains that most depository libraries, then and now, are selected through Congressional privilege. Senator William P. Frye of Lewiston nominated the University of Maine library, and it was officially declared a depository in 1897. But in 1907, under the provisions of the Nelson Amendment to the First and Second Morrill Acts, 43 land-grant colleges were simultaneously declared to be a part of the depository program. This allowed Senator Frye to make another selection for Maine, the Dyer Library of Saco.
“The act of 1907 significantly boosted our acquisitions, at no cost. So 1907 remains a historic milestone for our library and the federal program,” Wihbey explains, “We are quite pleased with this recognition from Washington for our library’s commitment to providing public access to government information,”.
Joyce V. Rumery, Dean of Libraries at the University, added, “There is a synergy of Land Grant College membership and the Federal Depository Library Program which aligns with the mission of the University. This is one of many federal-state partnerships that have benefited UMaine and the State.”
The government publications collections at Fogler Library now totals 2.2 million documents, including some in paper, microform, floppy disk, map, videocassette and CD-ROM formats. The URSUS online catalog lists hundreds of thousands of federal publications on the premises, and many thousands more are accessible by a mouse click on the URSUS screen. The UMaine collection is the largest grouping of United States federal materials north of Boston, and remains the only regional depository in the country that serves a tri-state region.
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