Skip to Main Content

Government Documents Deselection Project

Learn more about the Government Documents Deselection Project including how decisions were made and where materials can know be found in Swem Library.



The government document collection currently resides on the first floor of the library across from our Read & Relax area. In an effort to help with library de-densification during the COVID pandemic and in preparation for a future digital scholarship center supporting student and faculty research, the government document collection is being relocated to the 2nd floor, and we are spreading tables out across the entire wing in the Read and Relax area.   

We recently finished a long-term project to review our government documents collection, and we are now engaging in a deselection process.  Most current government publications are issued online, and many others have been retrospectively digitized and are available to anyone through govinfo (, HathiTrust (, the Internet Archive (, or the issuing government agency’s own website. In many cases, we are substituting the online versions of the publications for the print. 

Our goal is to ensure the print government documents in our collection are relevant to our user needs. Part of the strength of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) is the strong network of libraries in the program. The FDLP requires that we offer withdrawn items to other libraries in the program before discarding them. The University of Virginia and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill are the regional depository libraries that serve Virginia and North Carolina and as Regionals, they maintain comprehensive collections of government publications in print and share them through Interlibrary Loan. 

William & Mary Libraries participates in a shared government documents print retention program with other members of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) ( As a selective depository library, William & Mary can focus on retaining materials that are useful and related to our University and regional community, like:      

  • materials related to tidewater Virginia (Chesapeake Bay, National parks, historic preservation, local plants and animals, shipbuilding, etc) 

  • publications that complement materials collected by Special Collections Research Center (civil rights, women, social justice, military and veterans) 

  • documents related to WMs graduate programs (history, American studies, marine science)  

  • materials that are easier to read/use in print  

  • government documents from all agencies that are related to equity, diversity, inclusion and social justice