Handbook of Federal Librarianship

III. Resources/Collections

A. Federal Acquisitions
General Information
Acquisitions and Collection Development
Library of Congress Acquisition Resources

B. Withdrawal and Disposition of Materials

Introduction
Responsibility for Library Materials
Resources—Statutes and Regulations
Disposal of Excess Materials
Transfer
Library of Congress Exchange & Gift
Donations
Sale/Exchange
Abandonment/Destruction


A. Federal Acquisitions

by David Pachter

General Information

Acquisitions combines locating appropriate library materials, finding the lowest possible prices, providing access to materials by remote methods, and sharing resources among libraries. The purpose of acquisitions/collection development in federal libraries is the same as in all libraries: to identify, select, acquire, and provide access to publications, electronic materials, and any other format or type of information materials needed to fulfill the mission of the library and therefore the mission of the authoritative body for that library (government agency, etc.). These functions must be carried out by following standard agency procurement practices and policies that local agency procurement authorities require. These activities are most always carried out through the use of the appropriate statutory authority (such as Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) http://www.arnet.gov/far/, Economy Act (31 U.S.C. §§ 1535 and 1536) http://www.dol.gov/oasam/regs/statutes/1535.htm, Federal Acquisitions Streamlining Act (FASA) http://www.dol.gov/oasam/regs/statutes/fasa1.htm, new FAR provisions that implement FASA, or any other authority considered pertinent by the local procurement authority). The acquisitions librarian already plays an important role in the sophisticated information environment found in federal libraries and will continue to play an integral role as the library world enters the complicated electronic world of the future. Regardless of resource material format, acquisitions personnel must locate necessary materials for their library and acquire those materials as inexpensively and as quickly as possible.

Over time, it becomes more difficult to separate the functions of collection development, acquisitions, and other technical service functions (such as, cataloging and local systems work). Acquisitions librarians obtain materials for a library, while the department of the library that acquires those materials develops the library collection. Acquisitions has thus come to mean "acquiring access to all materials whether owned, leased, accessed freely, or a part of resource sharing programs."

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Acquisitions and Collection Development

Most important to acquisitions librarians are the publishing and creation of information, the suppliers and vendors of information materials, methods of acquiring required materials, the records and files necessary for proper record keeping and financial information transfer, and the accounting practices necessary to run the business of the library. Beyond these functions, activities, and procedures, acquisition personnel must also maintain high standards in their purchasing, automate and integrate their acquisition efforts, establish and maintain cooperative and resource sharing activities, and stay abreast of new trends and issues in library science. For an overview of a syllabus for a course or course unit for acquisitions, the American Library Association (ALA) offer this Web link: http://www.ala.org/Content/ContentGroups/ALCTS1/Publications10/ Resources6/Acquisitions5/Syllabus_for_a_Course_or_Course_Unit_for_Acquisitions/ Syllabus_for_a_Course_or_Course_Unit_for_Acquisitions.htm.

Collection development has traditionally focused on which materials should be included or excluded from the library collection whether or not the materials included books, periodicals, multimedia resources, electronic products, or other formats. Collection development also includes determining levels of access to materials whether they are owned, leased, accessed freely, or are a part of formal resource sharing programs.

The Association For Library Collections & Technical Services Acquisitions Section of ALA has adopted a Statement on Principles and Standards of Acquisitions Practice. This statement (http://www.ala.org/alcts/publications/ethics/aesthics.html) outlines the basic doctrines that should guide the actions and policies of library acquisitions units and individual personnel.

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Library of Congress Acquisition Resources

The Library of Congress (LC) is tasked with one of the most extensive acquisition and collection development missions among federal libraries. LC acquires materials in all formats—books, periodicals, maps, music, prints, photographs, recorded sound, videos, etc., in all subjects (except technical agriculture and clinical medicine), from all over the world. LC uses six methods to acquire materials—Cataloging in Publication, Copyright, Exchange, Gift, Federal Transfer, and Purchase. The collection is shaped by the Library's Collection Policy Statements (http://www.loc.gov/acq/) and totals over 113,000,000 items. The following links offer a variety of options for advice on federal acquisitions:

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B. Withdrawal and Disposition of Materials

written by John D. Moore
edited by Alexandra E. Campbell

Introduction

Proper disposal of materials is one of the most vexing problems for the federal library manager. Because federal agencies must follow laws and regulations regarding how a federal agency may handle property, the new federal librarian must quickly learn how to account for the agency's property. No two agencies handle transfer and disposal issues alike; guidelines vary from close scrutiny of inventories to very little oversight of materials. Each agency offers guidance (rules, regulations, etc.) on property disposal. For example, the Army has a specific regulation, AR 735-17, which describes what is accountable (e.g., books are while unbound magazines are not) and how property is recorded at the time of receipt. When accountable material is removed from the collection, library staff must follow specific procedures. The keystone of the Army's system is the Voucher Register of Books (DA Form 3973-R), a form for both additions and deletions to the collection. Once recorded, Army librarians have a running balance of accountable books on hand. The Army assigns the librarian as "the library property account accountable officer" which means that the librarian can be held financially liable for losses due to negligence.

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Responsibility for Library Materials

Federal librarians should remember not to accept responsibility for property until the duties and responsibilities of this function are clear. They need to ask the following questions to determine individual levels of responsibility for withdrawals and disposition of materials:

  1. Is there an agency property officer?
  2. Must the library go through a property office to dispose of unwanted items?
  3. When may the library director transfer property without going through a disposal office?
  4. Who is responsible for paying transfer costs and what rules govern who pays?
  5. Is written guidance available?

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Resources—Statutes & Regulations

The basic statutes and regulations governing disposal of federal property, including library materials, grant authority to the Government Services Administration. Many of the rules for disposal are spelled out in the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, codified at 40U.S.C., 484, and the Federal Property Management Regulations (FPMR) located at 41 CFR 101-43 ( http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_99/41cfrv2_99.html).

Most agencies are directed to maintain inventory controls and accountability systems for their property and to dispose of property in accordance with regulations spelled out by the GSA (40 U.S.C. 483(b)). Some agencies (e.g., Departments of the Army and Justice) have their own property management authority with explicit directions for library materials.

There are several steps a library manager must take to begin the disposal/transfer process. The first step is to determine who is the custodian of the property, as it may not be the library manager. The custodian or designate is the individual who has the authority to make decisions regarding disposal. In the Department of Justice, for example, circuit librarians are designated as the custodians while at the Department of the Army, librarians are assigned (GS1410) as the "library property account accountable officer" in accordance with Army Regulation (AR) 735-17, Accounting for Library Materials, para. 9.

If GSA is specified as part of the disposal process, librarians should then contact the appropriate GSA Federal Supply Service Bureau (FSSB) regional office. This office can provide assistance, explain and furnish forms, and answer questions. The regional offices are listed in 41 CFR 1013-43.4802 and at the FSSB Website: http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/channelView.do?pageTypeId=8199&channelId=-13362. The Web site also includes other useful information and links to federal regulations.

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Disposal of Excess Materials

Excess materials may be disposed of in several ways with a standard order of preference:

  1. transfer to another federal or state agency, each guided by a different set of rules;
  2. donation to non-profit organization;
  3. sale, either by negotiated bid, auction, or fixed price; or
  4. abandonment which requires working through the agency's property disposal program or GSA (General Services Administration).

Whether GSA, someone in the agency, or the library manager handles the disposal of the property, each of the four methods is usually tried in turn.

The methods of disposal/transfer are dictated by what is best for the government. The following questions can assist federal librarians in determining the best method to use:

  1. What is the property dollar value versus the cost of disposing of it?
  2. Would the property be of use to another agency?
  3. What amounts of time and money are dedicated to the disposal/transfer program?

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Transfer

Transfers can be between federal agencies (40 U.S.C. 483), the Library of Congress (35 CFR 701.33(4) and 2 U.S.C. 149) or a local library system (e.g., District of Columbia Public Library, U.S.C. 484-1). The easiest way to deal with excess property is a direct transfer, or a transfer to another federal agency without reporting to GSA. According to the GSA handbook entitled Personal Property Utilization and Disposal Guide 41CFR101-43.305 reportable items (e.g., books, maps) with an acquisition cost of $5,000 or less may be sent to another federal agency with a SF 122 (Transfer Order Excess Personal Property) form. The receiving agency will complete the form and forward it to the appropriate GSA regional office within 10 working days of receipt.

Library managers can use different vehicles to advertise eligible property for direct transfer. The Judiciary uses "needs and offers" lists. The BACKSERV listserv was an unmoderated listserv that allowed for the informal exchange of serial back issues and books on a very limited scale. Advertising areas to explore include agency Web sites and professional contacts within other federal agencies (see FPMR 101.43-305, http://apps.fss.gsa.gov/pub/mtips/9911/PersProp.pdf).

If the library manager's agency is required to report transfers to GSA and the excess materials cost more than $5,000 to acquire, then library staff must complete a SF 120 (Report of Excess Personal Property) form and forward it to GSA. If the library manager is aware of a potential recipient, the form may include the receiving organization's name, address, and phone number in the description area of the SF 120. A FFSB officer will try to arrange a transfer, donation, or sale of the excess material to the potential recipient. If no potential recipient is indicated, FFSB staff enters the SF 120 information into an online system which advertises excess property to federal and state agencies as well as dealer/vendors. The materials must be available for inspection during the advertisement period; inspection appointments are arranged through the FFSB staff. If a recipient is not identified within 21 days the library manager is notified by FFSB staff that the material may be abandoned or destroyed or the FFSB staff may suggest alternative options.

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Library of Congress Exchange & Gift

No legislation mandates that federal libraries send excess materials to the Library of Congress (LC), but there are regulations that encourage federal agencies to do so. If, after consulting 35 CFR 701.33(4) and local agency policy, the library manager wishes to pursue transferring excess materials to the Library of Congress, write to LC's Government Documents Section, Anglo-American Acquisitions Division (LS/ACQ/ANAD), Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C. 20540-4170 or call (202)707-9514, fax (202)707-0380, or visit their Web page at http://www.loc.gov/acq/fedsur.html.

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Donations

GSA handles donations of reportable surplus property in accordance with FPMR regulations in 41 CPR 101-44. Most often materials are donated to State Agencies for Surplus Property (SASPs), non-profit educational institutions, or other eligible entities. Interested parties search the GSA database of excess property. Once the material is identified, a SF 123 (Transfer Order Surplus Personal Property) form is sent to GSA who will forward a copy to the agency holding the material. Selected material should be picked up or arrangements made for shipment within 15 days of the approval of the transfer. A list of SASPs with contact information may be found at the FSSB Website (http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/contentView.do?contentType=GSA_BASIC&contentId=10790&noc=T).

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Sale/Exchange

It is possible to exchange books and periodicals for others without monetary appraisal or detailed reporting. The library manager should consult Replacement of Personal Property Pursuant to the Exchange/Sale Authority (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_99/41cfr101-46_99.html). Regulations governing sale of materials are in FPMR at 41 CFR101-45. There are no separate provisions for libraries in the general statutes and regulations. Generally a sale is not held if the anticipated cost of conducting the sale will be greater than the receipts generated. Federal agencies may sell material without GSA intervention if the proceeds are expected to be below $5,000. Procedures are spelled out in 41 CPR 101-45.304-3 and GSA forms to be used are listed in CFR 101-45.4901. However, different agencies may have individualized rules for library material. For example, Army libraries sell through the Defense Re-Utilization Marketing Office rather than through GSA.

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Abandonment/Destruction

Abandonment or destruction of property is considered only when transfer, donation, or sale have been found to be impracticable or not cost effective. Designated abandonment and destruction procedures must be followed, complete with a proper audit trail be maintained. For example, all markings indicating federal ownership must be obliterated. Applicable regulations are found in the FPMR at 41 CFR 101-45.9 and 41 CFR 101-44.7.

Some federal agencies are exempt from certain procedures or have additional requirements imposed upon them. A few examples include AR 735-17, Accounting for Library Materials, which outlines proper disposal procedures for Army libraries where the Defense Re-Utilization Marketing Officer (DRMO) acts in much the same way as the GSA for other federal agencies; the Judiciary's procedures are spelled out in The Guide to Judicial Policies and Procedures, v. 1B, Chapter 8, part D "Disposal of Property" and part J, "Lawbook Materials Procurement and Property Management Program;" and depository libraries may dispose of unwanted government publications after first offering them to the Library of Congress and the Archivist of the United States according to 44 U.S.C. 1907.

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last update 12/30/99