Public Service Policy

Public Service Guidelines for Government Information in Electronic Formats
Joseph Anderson Cook Library
The University of Southern Mississippi


The University of Southern Mississippi's Cook Library, as a Selective Federal Depository Library, is obligated by law to provide public access to depository receipts, including electronic government information products. These products may be in a tangible format such as CD-ROMs, DVDs, or diskettes, or they may be Internet files accessible only from an online government information source.

At the federal level, the United States Printer has approved public use guidelines with respect to electronic formats, which fit within the statutory framework of Title 44, U.S.Code. This policy follows the same principle of free access that governs the use of traditional depository materials. The General Counsel to the Public Printer states that "any library selecting items in electronic formats must maintain the capability to allow for unimpeded use of those documents by its public patrons."

In effect at the local level is the Acceptable Use Policy for The University of Southern Mississippi. All users of University information technology resources, whether affiliated with the university or not, are obligated to adhere to these guidelines. The University Libraries' Government Information guidelines stated below, while consistent with University policy, provide additional detail in light of Selective Depository Library status. These guidelines are applicable to electronic depository government resources regardless of origin.


1. Cook Library provides access for University clientele and the general public to in-house computer workstations supporting depository CD-ROMs, DVDs, diskettes, and Internet resources, equal to services provided for other library materials. Viewing these materials is free of fees or other restrictions such as age or residency status. Use of workstations is subject to the University's overall acceptable use policy. Use or access may be mediated or unmediated. Filtering software is not used. Patrons need not present identification, although staff may need to provide special passwords to access some sites. Log-in or sign-up sheets may or may not be used. Confidentiality of these records is consistent with applicable privacy regulations and statutes.

2. The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) sets forth annually Recommended Specifications for Public Access Workstations in Federal Depository Libraries. Cook Library strives to meet as many of these recommendations as is reasonably possible.

3. Circulation of all except for the most heavily used CD-ROMS, diskettes, and DVDs is permitted, particularly where application software is unavailable in-house. Circulation periods are arranged for with the Head of Access Services or other appropriate library staff member.

4. Cook Library provides in-house Internet access to government information to the University community and to the general public, including but not limited to FDSYS Federal Digital System, GPO Access and the FDLP Electronic Collection.

5. Cook Library affords on-site patrons the capability of downloading, e-mailing, or printing electronic government information. Information may be transmitted to distant users via fax or e-mail, in accordance with GPO requirements and guidelines. Costs associated with printing, downloading, or faxing are consistent with other public service provisions within the Library. While downloading of electronic data to portable disk formats is provided for, adherence to software licenses is expected. U.S. Government information is normally provided without charge, but copyright law may protect some products containing government information. Where equipment permits and with reasonable notification, temporary storage space may also be provided on some publicly available computers.

6. Cook Library maintains a homepage for Government Information and provides links to prominent or useful sites for the general public and University community. Depository electronic products are represented in the library's online catalog, as are thousands of electronic federal documents with active hyperlinks.

7. Research Services Unit, in Cook Library, provides assistance with tangible government documents. Assistance is also provided to patrons using public computers to access information at various U.S. Government Internet sites. Reference and research assistance is available from librarians in the Research Services Unit in person, via telephone, and through e-mail. Extended research consultations may also be scheduled in advance.


Depository Library Public Service Guidelines for Government Information in Electronic Formats

FDLP Internet Use Policy Guidelines

Recommended Specifications for Public Access Workstations in Federal Depository Libraries

The University of Mississippi. Public Service Guidelines for Government Information in Electronic Formats, John Davis Williams Library.

The University of Southern Mississippi. Acceptable Use Policy for the University Libraries