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A Window to Your Government: An Exhibition Celebrating the Centennial of the Federal Documents Depository

Main Library - Second Floor Gallery
November 27, 2006 - January 13, 2007

In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the Federal Depository at The Newark Public Library, Laura Saurs, the Regional Depository Librarian, is curating a special exhibition, entitled A Window to Your Government: An Exhibition Celebrating the Centennial of the Federal Documents Depository.

The show will have several display cases devoted to each major section: "America the Beautiful," "Exploration," "Invention," and "Famous Names." Some of the items on view will be those depicting the planets and space travel, breathtaking views of America’s natural wonders, and unique inventions.

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Cover image from The Face of Venus: The Magellan Radar Mapping Mission, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, DC, June 1995.

Dry-sounding documents, such as "Report on the Construction of a Military Road," can contain such gems as the 1863 view of the Coeur d’Alêne Mission as shown in the photo below.

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Coeur D’Alêne Mission in the Rocky Mountains – Drawn by C. Sohon, from Report on the Construction of a Military Road from Fort Walla-Walla to Fort Benton by Capt. John Mullan, U.S.A., Washington: Government Printing Office, 1863, p. 17.

As early as 1813, government publications were distributed to libraries around the country (Newark Public Library became a depository in 1906) that housed them and made them available to the public. In 1963, the Library was awarded the distinction of being named a Regional Depository. At that time, the Library began receiving all items available and accepted the responsibility of keeping those publications permanently.

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Pamphlet cover from Statue of Liberty: National Monument, Liberty Island, New York, National Park Service Historical Handbook Series No. 11, Washington, DC, 1952, revised 1957.

The Library’s federal documents holdings exceed 2,000,000 items in various formats: books, magazines, microforms, CDs, maps and posters. The collection contains primary sources on United States history and government: Presidential documents, Congressional publications on major historical events—such as the sinking of the Titanic and the Kennedy and King assassinations— and on current "hot topics," such as homelessness and steroid use in sports. The collection also includes census statistics from 1790 to the present, as well as historic and current information on the military and on Native Americans.

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Sialia Arctica, Swainson – Arctic bluebird – Plate XXXV from Explorations & Surveys for a Railroad Route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, made under the direction of the Secretary of War in 1853-6, according to Acts of Congress of March 3, 1853, May 31, 1854, and August 5, 1854, Volume 10, Washington, 1859 (33rd Congress, 2nd Session)

There are 52 regional depositories in the United States; most states have at least one. The libraries in Boston, Denver and Milwaukee are the three other public libraries designated as regional depositories. Once a library is designated as a Regional Federal Depository, it must agree to receive, and house in perpetuity, copies of every piece of information disseminated by the federal government.

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Coral habitat in the Hawaiian Islands (NOAA) from Oil Spills in Coral Reefs: Planning & Response Considerations, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, Office of Response and Restoration, February 2001, p. 6.

Newark’s oldest federal document, a Senate Journal, dates back to Dec. 6, 1790, and pertains to the sessions of Congress held in the City of Philadelphia. Another of the city’s oldest report sets, the American State Papers, a precursor of the Serial Set, covers the first 15 congresses. Almost the whole Serial Set, a collection of Congressional Reports and documents dating from 1817, is available at The Newark Public Library in a combination of microforms and original printed volumes.

The exhibition will be on display in the Main Library's Second Floor Gallery from November 27, 2006 through January 13, 2007 during library hours. It is free and open to the public.

For more information, or to arrange a guided or group tour, please call Laura Saurs at 973-733-7812.

Read the November 10, 2006 Associated Press article about the exhibit:
Long-forgotten government documents find home in Newark


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