Selective federal depository libraries which are served by a Regional Library may withdraw depository materials from their collections after the materials have been held for five years, and after receiving permission from their primary Regional. Aside from the exempted publications listed below, all publications must be retained for five years from the date of receipt. There is no requirement that selectives must withdraw any publications, and all depositories are encouraged to consider the needs of their users when developing withdrawal policies. Each depository should have a collection development policy which identifies both selection and discard policies in the context of the community's needs.

Disposal lists are checked by the Regional Libraries in order to maintain a complete collection of federal publications, which is then available to all libraries in the region. Most publications in the Regional collections, with the exception of some reference materials and fragile publications, are available for Interlibrary Loan, photocopy, and/or scan. The Regionals will attempt to supply any publication needed by selectives within the region, including microfiche.

These guidelines are based on Chapter 5 of the FDLP Handbook.

Requesting Permission to Discard Publications

Exceptions to the five-year rule:

  1. The following publications may be discarded without regard for the five-year rule:
    • Publications listed on the Superseded List.
    • Government publications which are duplicates or are received outside of the depository system (gifts, direct mail, etc).
    • Depository publications received from the Government Printing Office (GPO) but not selected.
  2. While the categories above do not have to be listed, if significant publications or large sets are being withdrawn, listing them for the Regionals is encouraged as a courtesy, as well as publicizing them for other depositories in the region. They must be clearly identified on lists as to the reason for disposal (e.g. duplicate or non-depository).
  3. Publications which are replaced by microfiche, commercial reprint, or a stable electronic equivalent may be discarded in less than five years but must be listed for the Regionals first. The discard list must clearly state that they are being replaced. The FDLP has developed guidelines for substituting electronic versions for tangible depository publications.

Instructions for Preparing Disposal Lists

In order to process disposal lists in a timely manner, we ask that you follow the following instructions:

  1. All publications received through the depository program in tangible format (paper, microfiche, floppy disk, CD-ROM, etc.), and not covered above, must be listed for the Regional Libraries before discarding. Please list like formats together, and indicate that on the offers list. For example, microfiche, tangible electronic items such as floppy disks and CD-ROMs.
  2. Lists should not be longer than 15 pages each. Multiple lists can be submitted to the Regionals at the same time.
  3. Each list or group of lists should be accompanied by a cover letter which states the depository library name and depository number, the list date, the list numbers included, the reasons for disposal, whether or not postage is required, and the person to contact for requests and/or with questions. Lists should be sequentially-numbered throughout the year to assist in record-keeping.
    1. Example statement: (Depository Library name, number) requests permission to dispose of the following publications. All publications are either more than five years old or are duplicates. All items are in paper format unless otherwise noted. Please send requests for publications to: (Person's name, address, phone, email)
  4. Because pages may get separated during the checking process, each page of each list must indicate the following:
    1. Library name
    2. Discard list number
    3. Page number
    4. Date
  5. Entries must be arranged in exact SuDoc classification number order, and must contain the following information:
    1. Superintendent of Documents classification number
    2. Title
    3. Date of publication
    4. Volume/issue numbers, if serial
    5. Notation to indicate bound volumes
    6. Notation to indicate reason for discard if held less than 5 years.
  6. Microfiche lists may be composed of photocopied headers, provided that the SuDoc and title can be read.


  1. Lists should be sent to both Regional depositories, and can be sent at any time. Lists will be acknowledged when received by the Regional library with a note as to the probable time that will be required for checking to be completed. The University of Alabama Regional depository will aim to complete the claiming process within a month of receipt. Auburn University Montgomery will aim to complete the claiming process as soon as possible. If selectives have not heard from their primary Regional depository within two months of sending the disposal list, they may then send their list to the state's selectives.
  2. The preferred method of delivery of disposal lists is by email attachment, in any of the following formats: Microsoft Word (.doc); Excel (.xls); Portable Document Format (.pdf); or Rich Text Format (.rtf). Please send lists to tmelanco[at] and lfarrow1[at]
  3. After the Regional libraries have given approval to discard, a list of the documents to be claimed should be sent to the state's selectives via the ALDOCS list. Libraries requesting materials are to send their requests directly to the discarding library.
  4. After the list has been made available to all Alabama depositories, it is strongly encouraged that selective depository libraries utilize the national Needs and Offers list, particularly when disposing of major sets or long runs.

last revised November 12, 2010.