Central Library

Government Information and Media Services

FDLP logo


Government Information and Media Services (GIMS) is located at the North East corner of the main floor (4th floor) of the Central Library. Entering the building from the Library Lawn entrance, GIMS is on the right after making a left at the elevator bank. The GIMS service desk is identified by the Federal Depository Library Program logo (see logo above).

Media Services

The GIMS department at the Central Library provides both government information resources and assistance and public service for the Central Library's large and growing microform and film media collections. For more information, see Media Services.

Federal Depository Library System

The Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries are one of over 1250 participating libraries in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). The Vanderbilt Library is a congressionally designated depository for U.S. Government documents. Public access to the library's government documents collection is guaranteed and governed by Federal law (Title 44, United States Code).

Central Library is a selective depository, meaning the library selects which documents to receive from the federal government rather than being required to receive all documents the federal government disseminates to the depository library system. Depositories receiving all federal government publications are designated as regional depositories. The Regional Depository for the state of Tennessee is the Ned McWherter Library at the University of Memphis

Tennessee depositories have a shared regional holdings arrangement. Each of the six largest depositories (of which Vanderbilt is one) is classified as a "subregional" responsible for different classes of documents. The Central Library has been designated to hold publications from the following government branches and agencies: the President (all SuDocs documents classed PR and PREX), the State Department (all S documents), Patent and Trademark Office, Energy Research Abstracts, Foreign Trade Reports, and all Congressional documents (all Y documents).

Vanderbilt University has been designated a Center of Excellence by the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL). This designation helps ASERL depository libraries coordinate to enhance access to government documents by identifying and specifying which libraries in the ASERL system have the most complete collections for documents from specified government agencies. Vanderbilt and the Alderman Library at the University of Virginia share this designation for State Department documents (SuDocs classification S).

Government Information Collections at the Central Library

Central Library has been a selective depository for federal government publications since 1884, a United Nations depository since 1946, and a Food and Agriculture Depository since 1948. The Central depository selects about 63% of the almost 6000 categories offered by the US Government Printing Office. The depository has approximately 900,000 paper, microfiche and CD-ROM holdings.

Other government information is available at selected Vanderbilt libraries. The Alyne Queener Massey Law Library was designated as a selective federal depository library in 1976. The Stevenson Science and Engineering Library has been a Patent and Trademark depository since 1988.

Access to Government Information

The mission of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) is to assure public access to the information published by the United States government. This includes all government information products, regardless of format or medium, which are of public interest or educational value, except for those products which are for strictly administrative or operational purposes, classified for reasons of national security, or the use of which is constrained by privacy considerations.

The public is welcome to use the federal depository collection without charge. The Vanderbilt Libraries and GIMS have a longstanding commitment to public access to information created by or for the federal government. 

During hours restricted to authorized card holders, patrons without card privileges wanting to use the depository can gain access by informing library staff they wish to use the library's depository resources. For questions about access to government information, please ask a library staff member.

Reference Services

GIMS maintains a separate service desk to provide reference assistance with government information. Staff can assist with the use of both printed and online reference materials including: indexes, bibliographies, and statistical yearbooks. If in-depth assistance is needed, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists. Our phone number is 322-2838. Send government document e-mail reference questions to: frank.lester@vanderbilt.edu.

If the Vanderbilt Library system does not have the government publications you need, GIMS staff will assist in identifying other libraries which may have them and assist in making an Interlibrary Loan request.

Class Instruction

GIMS offers library instruction for groups of patrons and classes to demonstrate use of online databases and print sources. Please contact Frank Lester at 322-2838 to set up a session.

Identifying and Locating Materials

Almost all U.S. government publications published after 1976 and United Nations publications are listed in Acorn, Vanderbilt's online catalog; however, many pre-1976 US government publications are not listed in Acorn. GIMS staff will be glad to assist in locating government publications.

Government Publications on the Web

There are two workstations in the GIMS department designated for government information research for public use. Please see the staff at the GIMS service desk to log onto these workstations.


Most government publications can be checked out for two weeks. Items are checked out from and returned to the main Circulation desk. There are no overdue fines for government documents; however, patrons may be billed for replacement and other costs if materials are lost or not returned. 

Certain categories of government publications do not circulate, such as sub-regional holdings and select serials. Please speak with a GIMS staff member for questions about the circulation status of a government document.


Frank Lester is a government information and media services librarian. He is also the subject specialist for political science and cinema and media arts. He has previously worked at the University of Michigan Documents Center and the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Teri Bante is a Library Associate and the Public Services Coordinator. She manages the daily operations of the department, trains and supervises the student staff, and oversees the processing, technical services, and withdrawal of Federal Depository Library Program and United Nations documents. 

Will Stringfellow is a Library Assistant III. He is a film, copyright, and microform media equipment expert. He processes incoming media items, updates entries in Acorn, Vanderbilt's online catalog, maintains the Leisure Viewing Collection, manages all Central reserves, including media reserves, and edits the Central Library's webpages.

Depository Identification

Federal Depository No. 580
Central Library, Vanderbilt University
Frank Lester, Teri Bante, and Will Stringfellow
(615) 322-2838