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Oct. 7 , 2005
CONTACT: Ron Podell

Dingell to help EMU library celebrate anniversary as federal depository

YPSILANTIInterested in the government's official reports on the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 1947 Roswell incident, in which residents of that New Mexico town reported seeing UFOs? Think you might like to sneak a peek at CIA maps of the former Soviet Union after it broke into numerous republics? Or maybe you'd like to peruse presidential papers from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush.

For the past four decades, EMU's Library has served as a federal depository, housing countless government documents — like those mentioned and thousands more — for public use.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of EMU Library's federal depository status, The Friends of the EMU Library has invited the general public to its fall meeting and program, which will feature "The Good, the Rare and the Strange: Treasures and Ephemera from EMU Library's 40 Years as a Depository of U.S. Government Publication," Sunday, Oct. 9, 2 p.m., in room 300 of Halle Library. The meeting and refreshments starts at 2 p.m., with the program to follow at 3 p.m.

Ann Sanders, Michigan's regional depository librarian, will entertain with tales of the amazing variety of treasures and ephemera that are provided to federal depository libraries by the Government Printing Office. Bob Ferrett, former director of EMU's Center for Instructional Computing, and Chris Mayda, professor of geography and geology, will discuss how access to information in the library's Government Documents Collection has been useful in their research and teaching. 

Congressman John Dingell (D-Mich.) will present a commemorative shadowbox to Halle Library in honor of its 40 years of service as a federal depository library. The event is scheduled Tuesday, Oct. 11, 1:30 p.m., in the atrium of Halle Library.

In addition, the 40th anniversary will be commemorated with two displays in Halle Library's atrium, which are available for viewing through Oct. 16.

"It's amazing, the wide variety and number of documents printed and publicized by the U.S. government," said Barbara Glover, EMU's federal depository librarian, who said Halle Library houses approximately 200,000 government documents/periodicals and 44,000 maps.

In addition to some documents you might expect — such as Census data and Department of Education bulletins — Glover unearthed some "curiosities," including a 1976 government report on the 1890 Sioux Indian massacre, an October 1995 report on human radiation experiments, coloring books focusing on sickle cell anemia and toy safety, and even promotional comic books, with such characters as "Sprocket Man" discussing bicycle safety. The depository's thickest document is a 3,700-page tome on Congressional hearings about possible amendments to the Water Pollution Control Act. Its smallest item is a NASA sticker with the words "USA," "Canada," and "France" inscribed. As a collection, the 130-volume set of "War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies" is unrivaled.

In March 1965, U.S. Congressman Watson E. Vivian designated the EMU Library a Federal Depository Library. The EMU Library became the second depository library to serve what was then the 2nd Congressional District, sharing the honor with the University of Michigan, which became a depository in 1884. As a selective depository, Halle Library currently receives approximately 33 percent of all available governmental publications, Glover said, and provides expert assistance in locating specific government information.

The collections of government documents in paper, microfiche and electronic formats are housed on the second floor of Halle Library and in the Map Room on the library's first floor. Julia Nims, information services librarian, has developed a Web page, http://www.emich.edu/halle/govdocs/, to assist members of the EMU community and local residents in locating government information within Halle Library and on the World Wide Web.

"I'm always amazed at what's available online and it's growing," Nims said. "The number of sources seems to increase every time I go to help someone. It can be overwhelming at times."

Joanne Hansen, Halle's map librarian, was working in the EMU Library in 1965 when it received the federal depository designation. At that time, the library already was housing quite a bit of U.S. Geological Survey maps that dated back to 1883 as well as a number of U.S. Army maps, Hansen said.

In 1945, the EMU Library was one of 44 libraries nationwide chosen to house Army Map Service (now the National Imagery and Mapping Agency or NIMA) maps. The Army's thinking at the time was to have maps available in a variety of locations rather than one central location for protection purposes, Hansen said.

"We've got maps of the African campaign during World War II. It includes where suspected water holes were in the desert and where wells were, which was important for strategy," Hansen said.

Hansen gives credit to Mark Jefferson, a geography and geology professor at EMU in the 1940s, for the EMU Library receiving the Army maps. Because Jefferson had created a number of maps for the U.S. at the end of World War I, EMU was looked upon favorably, she surmised.

Today, Hansen oversees the EMU Map Library, which houses more than 44,000 maps from federal agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey and the CIA. The collection also includes a number of Great Lakes maps and local maps of Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. The latter two are quite popular with area residents and engineers.

"We'll have people come in, look at the maps, point, and say, 'there's my home,'" Hansen said with a laugh.

            Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their careers and lives, and to be better citizens.


Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.

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