You are here

Government Documents Policy

I. Mission

The Pace University School of Law Library was designated a Federal Depository Library under 44 U.S.C. § 1916 in 1978. It serves the government information needs of the 17th U.S. Congressional District of New York. SUNY Purchase Library shares this responsibility. The 17th Congressional District consists of part of Westchester County and most of Rockland County (separated by the Hudson River). Because Pace Law School is centrally located in Westchester County and in the County Seat of White Plains, the Law Library also serves the government information needs of Westchester County generally.

Pace University School of Law’s Mission states that it is dedicated to educating students animated by a concern for the communities that they will serve, and dedicated to contributing to society in ways consistent with legal education and scholarship. The Federal Depository in the Law Library helps achieve this mission by serving the government information needs of the community.

The Law School serves nearly 750 full-time and part-time students pursuing J.D. degrees, Certificates in International Law and Environmental Law, LL.M. degrees in Comparative International Law, and LL.M. and S.J.D. degrees in Environmental Law. The Law School also sponsors an Energy and Climate Center, Women’s Justice Center, Land Use Law Center, Center for Continuing Legal Education, National Environmental Moot Court Competition, John Jay Legal Services Clinics, Pace Community Law Practice, Center for Environmental Legal Studies, Pace Institute of International Commercial Law, and a number of other law centers, clinics, and moot court competitions. Pace Law Library hosts the CISG Database, a web portal for information sources on the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. Active student organizations and the Law School curriculum also serve as the bases for development of the government information collection as it relates to the Law School.

The Pace government documents collection includes primary legal sources from the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches of the United States Government, including federal law and regulations, as well as selected secondary sources published by the U.S. Government Printing Office. Environmental law is a particular area of interest.

II. Community Analysis

In the congressional reapportionment that followed the 2010 Census, the City of White Plains, home of Pace Law School, became part of the 17th Congressional District of New York. The 17th District contains part of suburban Westchester County, reaching from Harrison and Port Chester in the east through mid-Westchester to the Hudson River and north to Peekskill and Mohegan Lake. It includes White Plains, Pleasantville and Briarcliff Manor, where the Westchester campuses of Pace University are located. The District is primarily suburban, and indeed was one of the nation’s first suburbs, forming part of New York City’s northward sprawl as workers sought safe and affordable housing outside the City. The District contains a number of state and local parks and greenways, but most of its rural area has been swallowed up as workers have moved farther from New York City in search of affordable housing. Continuing development has increasingly squeezed wild animal populations into populated areas: overpopulating deer, raccoons, opossums, and foxes invade suburban gardens and yards. In 1997, even a black bear was captured in White Plains. The 17th District crosses the Hudson River below the Tappan Zee Bridge and extends through much of Rockland County, north to Bear Mountain, and west to Ringwood. The 17th District includes landmarks such as Jay Gould’s Gothic revival mansion Lyndhurst, Washington Irving’s charming Sunnyside, and John D. Rockefeller’s spectacular estate Kykuit, all now open to the public. Beautiful scenery along the Hudson River and Long Island Sound is among the many attractions of the District. Intensive development has been slower north of White Plains, for just to the north Westchester and Rockland Counties are crossed by the first of several mountain ridges – the closest the Appalachians come to the ocean.

In the mid-20th century, Westchester County became home to some of America’s leading corporations (as well as corporate watchdogs: Consumer Reports magazine is based in Yonkers). Reader’s Digest built a colonial-style campus north of Pleasantville in the 1930s, and General Foods moved to the north side of White Plains in the 1950s. Soon after, IBM, Pepsico, and Texaco built headquarters near the Cross-Westchester Expressway (I-287). IBM has been a major employer in the area, and its long-time policy of lifetime employment was a mainstay here; IBM’s big layoffs between 1990 and 1993 came as an unnerving shock to many. The greatest anxiety in the area in recent years has been caused by corporate restructuring and downsizing at these companies and others in and around New York City – trends that have disproportionately affected the Fortune 500 and financial services managers who reside here.

Much of the 17th Congressional District’s population is in White Plains. The District includes affluent communities such as Scarsdale, Harrison, Armonk, and Chappaqua, where Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton own a home. Those populations are made up mainly of white collar and middle- to upper-middle-class homeowners. Prior to its layoffs in the 1990s, IBM maintained its corporate headquarters in Armonk and an international marketing office in White Plains, which helped spur rapid residential growth in the area.

Across the Hudson, the 17th District’s portion of Rockland County includes the river towns north of Nyack, up beyond Stony Point, and extends west to communities located between the Hudson and just west of Route I-87. Although much of the population of this area traditionally worked in blue collar and farming jobs, an increasing number of middle-class white-collar workers have expanded these communities in recent years, enduring long commutes to obtain affordable housing.

According to the 2012 American Factfinder one-year estimates, the total population of New York’s 17th Congressional District was 733,000 (51% females and 49% males). The median age was 38.8 years. Twenty-five percent of the population was under 18 years and 14% was 65 years and older.

Seventy-two percent of people who reported being one race alone were white; 11% were Black or African American; 6% were Asian; less than 0.5% were American Indian and Alaska Native; and less than 0.5% percent were Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. Ten percent identified as some other race. Three percent reported being two or more races. Twenty-one percent of the population was Hispanic; people of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

In 2012, there were 241,000 households in the 17th Congressional District of New York. The average household size was three people. Families made up 71% of the households in the District, including both married-couple families (54%) and other families (17%). Of other families, 6% were female householder families with children under 18 years of age and no husband present. Nonfamily households made up 29% of all households. Most of the nonfamily households were people living alone, but some were composed of people living with an unrelated householder. In the 17th Congressional District, 37% of all households had one or more people under the age of 18; 29% of all households had one or more people 65 years and over. Among persons 15 and older, 53% of males and 48% of females were married. Seventeen thousand grandparents lived with their grandchildren under 18 years old, and 26% of those grandparents had financial responsibility for their grandchildren.

Seventy-six percent of the people living in New York Congressional District 17 in 2012 were native residents of the United States. Sixty-two percent of these residents were living in the state in which they were born. Twenty-four percent of the population was foreign born. Of the foreign born population, 50% were naturalized U.S. citizens, and 95% entered the country before 2010. Among people at least five years old living in the District in 2012, 34% spoke a language other than English at home. Of those, 50% spoke Spanish and 50% spoke another language; 42% reported that they did not speak English "very well."

Eighty-seven percent of the population 25 years and older had attained a high school diploma, equivalency, or higher, and 42% had a bachelor's degree or higher. Twenty percent of people in the 17th Congressional District had graduate or professional degrees. Thirteen percent dropped out before graduation from high school. The total school enrollment for children three years of age and older was 205,000 in 2012. Nursery school and kindergarten enrollment was 15,000, and elementary through high school enrollment was 136,000. Roughly one-third of kindergarten through 12th grade students attend private school. College and graduate school enrollment was 54,000.

Sixty-two percent of people aged 16 and over in the 17th District were employed in 2012; the unemployment rate in the District was approximately 7%, and thirty-three percent of the population was not in the labor force. Sixty-seven percent of those employed were in the civilian labor force; less than 1% were in the military. Fourteen percent were federal, state, or local government workers; and 7% were self-employed in their own businesses. Civilian employees 16 years and older worked in the following industries: management, business, science, and arts occupations, 44%; service occupations, 20%; sales and office occupations, 23%; natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations, 7%; production, transportation, and material moving occupations, 7%.

Sixty-six percent of workers drove to work alone in 2012, and 9 percent carpooled. Among those who commuted to work, it took on average 30 minutes to get to work.

The median income of households in New York Congressional District 17 was $84,455. Eight percent of households had income below $15,000 a year, and nearly 26% had income over $150,000. Eighty-two percent of households received earnings, 30% received Social Security benefits, and 20% of households received retirement income other than Social Security. Mean retirement income in District 17 was $30,874. These income sources were not mutually exclusive; some households received income from more than one source. In 2012, 8% of families living in the 17th Congressional District lived below the poverty level. Two percent received cash public assistance, while 8% received food stamp/SNAP benefits. Eighteen percent of families living with related children under 18 had income below the poverty level, compared with 22% of individuals 65 years old and over living in the District. Eight percent of all families, and 20% of families with a female householder and no husband present, had incomes below the poverty level.

Among the civilian non-institutionalized population in the District, 89% had either public or private health insurance coverage, and 11% did not have any health insurance coverage. Of those who had health insurance, 72% had private coverage and 28% had public coverage.

The 17th Congressional District had a total of 257,000 housing units in 2012, 61% of which were single-unit structures, 39% were multi-unit structures, and 1% were mobile homes. Fourteen percent of the housing units have been built since 1990. The median number of rooms in all housing units in the District was 6, and of these housing units, 59% have three or more bedrooms. Of the 241,000 occupied housing units, 68% were owner- occupied and 33% renter- occupied. Fifty-seven percent of householders of these units had moved in since 2000. One percent of the households did not have telephone service. Ten percent of householders had no vehicles available, while 18% had three or more. The median monthly housing costs for mortgaged owners was $3,005 and for renters, $1,377. Seventy percent of the owner occupied units had a mortgage. Forty-six percent of owners with mortgages, 31% of owners without mortgages, and 60% of renters in Congressional District 17 spent 30% or more of their household income on housing. Ninety percent of those at least one year old living in the 17th Congressional District had lived in the same residence for a year or more.

 (Community analysis adapted from Michael Barone, The Almanac of American Politics (2012); statistics taken from U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates 2012.)

III. Selection Responsibility

The primary responsibility for the selection of government documents and collection development of the depository collection rests with the Documents Librarian. Selections are made with the advice of the Head of Reference Services and other subject specialists under the direction of the Law Library Director.

Each year a zero-based review of selections is made and appropriate adds and drops are made during the annual selection cycle in July. Drops are made throughout the year, as soon as the need to drop is determined, while proposed adds are noted in the calendar to be made when permitted. The zero-based review includes reviewing the list of classes and the list of items selected. The Suggested Core Collection for Law Libraries in the Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program is another important tool.

IV. Collection Arrangement

The government documents collection has been intensively cataloged, and the paper depository collection is well integrated into the regular Law Library collection, in LC call number order. There is a small collection of paper documents shelved on the first floor of the Law Library and arranged according to Superintendent of Documents Classification (SuDocs) numbers. This collection is being gradually reduced, as the U.S. Government Printing Office publishes more documents in electronic format and online, and as we continue to catalog and integrate more documents into the regular collection.

While many government documents continue to be produced in either paper or microfiche versions, the U.S. Government Printing Office is pursuing a policy of distributing more and more publications only online. Government online publications are given permanent URLs (PURLs) intended to keep them accessible over time. A primary goal of the depository library community is to ensure permanent public access to important government publications by notifying the Superintendent of Documents of lost links and by preserving electronic publications over time. At Pace, we make every effort to keep links to online government documents current in the library catalog and work with depository libraries nationwide on permanent preservation issues.

Until 1997, the depository microforms were not cataloged at Pace. By 2003, however, all depository microform serials and selected monographs were added to the Library catalog. Cataloged depository microfiche retain their SuDocs classification numbers, and can be cross-referenced to Pace Law Library’s Shelves database that lists all government documents selected by Pace by item number, SuDocs number, title, date of receipt, and location in the library. Because the depository microfiche collection was not date-stamped from 1992-1996, in accordance with Federal Depository Library Program's 5-year retention rules, all unstamped depository fiche were retained in the collection through 2001, then selectively weeded.

Depository CD-ROMs make up a large proportion of the Law Library's CD-ROM collection. The CDs we intend to retain are cataloged and classified in LC call number order. Those we intend to discard are kept in SuDocs order for a mandatory period of five years.

There are no selective housing agreements in place at this time.

V. Subject Areas

Four important areas for supporting the Pace Law School curriculum are Environment, Health, Energy, and International Law. All four of these areas comprise a huge body of government information, much of it not appropriate for a law collection. Thus, selections must be made judiciously, but as comprehensively as needed to support the curriculum.

The Environmental Protection Agency is the agency with primary responsibility for environmental matters, and other agencies also provide vital information. These include the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Interior, and Transportation. Several other departments publish their Environmental Impact Statements. The Energy Department, Nuclear Regulatory Agency, and the Tennessee Valley Authority issue material relevant to study in the area of environmental law. Each of these departments includes documents of interest as well as materials beyond the needs of the library and must be analyzed accordingly.

Selections made for the general public include all the items in the Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program Basic Collection; selected portions of the U.S. Census; Occupational Outlook Handbook; World Factbook; Congressional District Atlas; IRS taxpayer information publications; Foreign Relations of the United States; Social Security Administration publications; and State Department publications (nearly all of which are now available electronically via the Internet or on CD-ROM). Most of these items are also used by our primary patrons.

VI. Choice of Format

The preferred format for government information is now online. Currently, approximately 97% of government documents are published online, either exclusively or in addition to the same titles published in tangible format. The Superintendent of Documents plans to switch to electronic-only publication of all but a core collection of essential government titles in the near future. However, important primary legal resources will continue in paper format, including the United States Code and United States Reports. For voluminous sets such as the Congressional Record and congressional hearings, reports, and documents, as well as federal agency publications, microform is the preferred format. Microforms are also selected when needed titles are available only in that format. CD-ROMs are selected only when the information on them is uniquely available in that format, and searching capability is needed. They are also used as a compact storage medium for voluminous material.

Equipment for using microforms available in the Pace Law School Library includes a digital reader/scanner that can read both microfilm and microfiche, with a dedicated computer for e-mailing or saving scanned pages to portable drives.

VII. Indexes

The Pace Law Library has purchased a number of indexes and other resources that support and provide access to the depository collection. These include print and online indexes of congressional and legislative history materials, including United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (in print and on WestlawNext), Lexis and Westlaw, and HeinOnline (current Pace Law School faculty and students).

The online Catalog of U.S. Government Publications is the primary finding tool for historical and current federal publications, with direct links to those available online. Pace Law Library selects online depository indexes and maintains databases containing yearly piece-level inventories of all government documents, in all formats, that the Library selects and receives.

Retrospective materials in the Law Library include CIS Congressional Serial Set microfiche (including the American State Papers) from 1789 to 1970, CIS U.S. Congressional Documents (1970-1980), the U.S. Congressional Serial Set (1981-1996), and House and Senate Hearings, Prints, and Publications (1997-present) from the Federal Depository Library Program. The Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations are available online from their inception to the present through the Law Library’s subscription to HeinOnline, and are also available online from the U.S. Government Printing Office. The United States Reports are complete in all editions, supplemented by a substantial run of Records and Briefs and Oral Arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, and complete sets of the United States Statutes at Large and the United States Code.

VIII. Resource Sharing

The Law Library is not able to single-handedly meet all the government information needs of the 17th Congressional District, so some cooperation among depositories is needed. Pace Law Library participates in METRO’s Government Documents Interest Group (GODIG) and with documents librarians nationwide through AALL and GOVDOC-L, a government documents listserv. Substantial information not appropriate for the Law Library collection, but of interest to area residents, is available over the Internet and can be accessed at the Pace University Law School Library. The Law Library is part of several consortia, including the Westchester Academic Library Directors Organization (WALDO), Academic Law Library Directors of Greater New York (ALLDOG), the New England Law Library Consortium, Inc. (NELLCO), ConnectNY, and the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO). WALDO includes academic libraries in Westchester County. NELLCO is a non-profit corporation that provides mechanisms for resource sharing among law libraries. ConnectNY is an organization connecting academic libraries in New York. Pace Law Library is also active in several library associations, including the Westchester Library Association, LLAGNY, and AALL. The online catalog is shared among all the Pace University libraries.

IX. Collection Evaluation

Each year a zero-based collection review is made. The library selects approximately 16% of U.S. Government Publications. Appropriate items will be added to the selection list based on notes compiled during the year. These numbers are listed in the Documents Librarian’s calendar when the selection cycle is due.

Selections are made based upon the law school curriculum and the community’s needs. Guidance is provided by the FDLP’s Suggested Core Collection for Law Libraries, Essential Titles for Public Use in Paper or Other Tangible Format, and the Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program, Basic Collection. The Federal Depository Library Program’s WEBTech Notes is another valuable tool in making selections. Selection profiles and collection development policies for other 17th Congressional District depositories and other law libraries are also examined for guidance.

X. Weeding and Maintenance

The collection will be maintained in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program.

An accurate shelf list of all depository publications will be maintained in a database, and shipping lists retained as supporting records. All documents will be stamped in accordance with the Instructions. Looseleaf materials will be placed in binders before they are placed on the shelves. Other types of materials will be prepared for use before they are shelved. Serials will be bound as appropriate. Shipping materials must be removed.

Superseded documents shall be withdrawn promptly unless a decision has been made to retain them for research purposes. Notes regarding supersession are included in the Shelves database. Other documents will be reviewed after retention for five years. Items will be withdrawn from the collection in accordance with guidelines issued by the New York State Library:

  • The piece is not relevant to the law library collection,
  • Item is no longer current,
  • Item is little used,
  • Item is duplicated in the collection,
  • Item is replaced by another format.

Weeding is done in accordance with 44 U.S.C. § 1912 and guidelines issued by the New York State Library. Materials are to be listed and submitted to the Regional library electronically. They will then be loaded to a Needs & Offers webpage for thirty days. Microforms do not have to be exhaustively listed. See Federal Depository Library Handbook § 5.14.B, Discards by Selective Depositories (last updated October 2010).

XI. Access

All government documents are maintained so as to be accessible for public use in the Pace Law Library. Paper publications are either cataloged and shelved in the regular collection by LC call number, or else maintained in Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc) number order in the Government Documents section on the Law Library’s first floor. All holdings are listed in the Shelves database, with notes on location of each item and LC call number where applicable.

Depository microforms are maintained in Lektrievers on the first level of the Library. The large collection of congressional microfiche is accessible using the CIS Indexes and the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications. A Microform Finding Aid prepared by the Documents/Special Collections Librarian lists all microforms and their locations.

The Reference Desk is staffed with a professional librarian knowledgeable in government documents from 10 AM to 8 PM Monday through Thursday, 10 AM to 5 PM on Friday, 11 AM to 5 PM on Saturday, and 11 AM to 5 PM on Sunday (hours subject to some variation).

Updated May 5, 2014.