Sims Library celebrates 50 consecutive years as FDLP

The Lion’s Roar / William Schmidt
SIMS Memorial Library celebrated its 50th years as a Federal Depository Library. Professor of Communication Dr. Joe Burns gave a presentation on music throughout the decades.

The Lion’s Roar / William Schmidt
 One of the benefits of SIMS being a Federal Depository Library is getting free, governmental documentation that may not be found else where.

The Lion’s Roar / William Schmidt
Participants were able to enjoy the festivities before and after speakers spoke on the history of Hammond, the library, the surrounding community, music and more. The library will continue to offer students access to the Federal Depository Library resources. 

Campus grounds has hosted a Federal Depository Library for 50 years now. This momentous occasion was meant with celebration.

On Apr. 6 at 1:00 p.m., Sims Memorial Library held the celebration in the library’s first floor lobby. Met by door prizes, attendees took their seats to hear a bit of the history on Federal Depository Loans, history of the library’s influence on Hammond through the decades as well as a bit of musical history over the last 50 years. 

Government Information Librarian Lori Smith began her presentation by explaining the history of the Federal Depository Libraries. The current mission is to provide free public and permanent access for the future.

The United States is the largest publisher in the world. The U.S. Government Publishing Office through the Federal Depository Library Program distributes free government documents to libraries throughout the United States. A Federal Depository Library must allow free, public access; even if the library was a part of a private institution. 

Led by Smith, the library had a committee work together over the last few months to create the program.

“I think they came up with a really fun, but informative program,” said Library Director Eric Johnson. “I really liked the combination of history of what was happening in the last 50 years along with a little bit of the history of the origin of the depository program. Especially with the Southeastern history of what has been going on for the last 50 years.”

After Smith’s presentation, Professor Emeritus C. Howard Nichols spoke on the history of Southeastern and the Hammond community. Audience members enjoyed the presentation. One student was glad to hear the history of the department she works for on campus. 

“I am a student worker in the government documents department,” said freshman art major Caitlyn Clark. “I was interested in going because it has to do with what I have to work with. It is really nice to hear the history of my department; to get a feel of where we started and where we are now.”

After Nichols’ history presentation, Professor of Communication Dr. Joe Burns spoke on the iconic musical moments in history. With the university being a depository library since 1966, Burns chose to speak on key historical moments from 1966, 1976, 1986, 1996, 2006 and this year as well as predict what the rest of the year had in store musically. 

After Burns finished his presentation, the attendees and presenters enjoyed some time with a cutting of cake and casual conversation.

Throughout April, a display of books and government documents highlighting events through the years will be in the library. Also, the U.S. Government Publishing Office awarded a commemorative plague in recognition of the 50-year anniversary and will be displayed in the library.

Johnson encourages students that have research for a class, or would like to do personal research of their own, to know that the federal depository has an abundance of available material. 

“We get quite a few government documents,” said Johnson. “Mostly electronic now, it used to be paper. But on every topic imaginable. Both Lori and Howard covered that in their talks. It is everything from legal material, to forms, tax forms, things like that, to health information, to Civil War books, all kinds of things, anything that you can think of that the government published something on. We don’t get everything from them. But we get a fair amount of material. The material is so varied that just about any topic you could think about doing, especially anything with current events, you’ll find some government documents on it.”

Not only are the governmental documents free, but they come to the university free. 

Students may have already searched for government documents without realizing it through the library’s catalogue system. 

“It is almost like a library within a library,” said Johnson. “A special collection from the main collection. But because it mirrors the main collection, it has something on just about everything. It has its own numbering system. You are searching for government documents when you are searching for anything in the catalogue, they’ll come up as if they were a regular book or journal.”

Since 1966, Sims has been collecting government documents. One of the goals that Smith mentioned is that he is working with people to try and make sure that this same access is still available in 100 years. 

Students are thankful that Southeastern has had a depository library and has made all the government documentation available. 

“There is just a plethora of information that has accumulated in one area,” said Clark. “You can find all kinds of information.”