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MTSU library celebrates 100 years as federal depository

Before the Internet, before television or radio, the U.S. government’s way to assure transparency about its work in the public’s name was to send copies of its documents to specially designated libraries.

The James E. Walker Library is commemorating 100 years of service to the community as one of those libraries. A special display is available for viewing now through April 30.

Since 1813, the Federal Depository Library Program has compiled all types of government information in numerous formats to ensure that the American people have access to everything from rules and regulations to census demographics.

While regional libraries in the program must collect everything the government publishes, Walker Library’s selective status enables it to be choosy about the items it keeps on hand.

“We try to make it fit the needs of the community, the University and the curriculum,” says Beverly Geckle, serials and government documents librarian.

The Walker Library’s federal depository collection includes the Congressional Record, which is the official compendium of House and Senate floor speeches.

It also features more vibrant offerings such as guides to National Park Service trails and a full-color bilingual flow-chart biography of Smokey the Bear—in English on one side of each page and in Spanish on the other side.

A bilingual biography of Smokey the Bear and guides to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Mammoth Cave are part of a special "Federal Depository Library Program" Centennial exhibit at Walker Library. (photo submitted)

Other items chronicle our nation’s history, including a Central Intelligence Agency publication, Penetrating the Iron Curtain: Resolving the Missile Gap with Technology, and the transcript of a conversation between Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger and Soviet Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Dobrynin, which can be found in the “Foreign Relations of the United States” series.

From the mundane to the compelling, the documents and other items represent 100 years of communication between a government and its people.

“Anyone in the community can use government document materials,” says Geckle. “That’s an important mission of the depository program.”

For more information about the exhibit or the library, contact Kristen Keene at 615-898-5376 or kristen.keene@mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (Gina.Logue@mtsu.edu)