Intellectual Freedom and Freedom of Information

deplib4Intellectual freedom begins with the freedom of information. The value of free and public information was recognized early in the history of the United States of America. In 1813, Congress authorized and mandated the distribution of Congressional materials to select universities, historical societies, and state libraries. The result, was the creation of the Federal Depository Library Program. The purpose of the Federal Depository Library Program is to provide free, easy, permanent access to federal government information. Title 44, Chapter 19 of the U.S. code established the legal requirements for federal depository libraries, foremost of which is to make government publications available for free use by the general public.

In 1889, South Dakota State University was designated as a depository library. H.M. Briggs Library is the largest depository library in South Dakota, collecting 75% of publications distributed through the Government Printing Office. There are over 575,000 volumes in the Government Documents collection including monographs, microforms, CDs, DVDs, floppy discs and electronic documents on the Internet. These are all publications produced by federal government agencies required by law to provide copies (in any format) of publications to the Government Printing Office for distribution to depository libraries that may choose to select those publications. Today, the Government Printing Office provides access to over 90% of these publications online. Additionally, government agencies increasingly only publish information through their websites. The Freedom of Information Act of 1966 and the 1996 Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments ensures public access to government information in tangible and electronic formats. Your right to know what your government is doing is further supported by the present Presidential administration’s transparency initiatives.

The Documents Department of Briggs Library supports your right to know and your right to access Government Information. The Government Documents collection is a rich legacy of historical and contemporary research materials on almost any topic. Resources are available in multiple formats paper, microforms, CDs, DVDs, floppy discs, online databases, online research publications, online consumer information sites, and electronic government services.

Exercise your intellectual freedom to access the information of your Government. Documents staff are more than happy to assist in the quest for government information. We are committed to the free, unrestricted access to government information.

Find out more about Government Information at Briggs Libray at and our collection access policy at

Vickie Mix, Documents Librarian


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