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40 Years as a Federal Depository Library
November 12, 2007

On Monday, November 19 the Hekman Library at Calvin College will celebrate its 40th anniversary as a federal depository library.

The festivities will begin with a 3 p.m. reception in the Meeter Center Lecture Hall, and the program for the event will commence at 3:30 p.m., featuring Congressman Vernon J. Ehlers as guest speaker.

The congressman will also present the library with a commemorative plaque from the Government Printing Office. Refreshments for the occasion will be a sampler of treats made from recipes found in government documents.

And on display for the event will be an assortment chosen from the universe of federal documents acquired by the Hekman Library over four decades-everything from the Warren Commission Report to a rare (and valuable) malaria pamphlet illustrated by Theodore Seuss Geisel or "Dr. Seuss."

"There's just a wealth of material here, so many wonderful resources" said Hekman documents librarian Diane Vander Pol of the federal document collection.

Designation as a federal depository library is a distinction allowed to only two libraries in any given congressional district. The Hekman Library gained federal depository status in 1967 through the invitation of Gerald R. Ford, then congressman of the 5 th District where Calvin's Franklin campus was located. Currently, the Hekman serves the 3 rd District, which became the college's home with the move to the Knollcrest campus.

The Calvin library has selective status as a federal depository. Unlike the Library of Michigan at Lansing, which must accept and retain every document published by the federal government, the Hekman can pick and choose which documents to add to the collection.

The offerings can be pretty eclectic.

"It runs the gamut," said Vander Pol. "We get the things you'd expect like laws, Supreme Court cases, census reports, even tax forms and tax publications."

Approximately half of the federal collection at the Hekman consists of Congressional publications, including the Congressional Record.

"A lot of those are hearings, which are a wealth of primary source material, she said, "and we have them going back to the 60s and 70s."

The library also receives health publications, statistical information and lots of educational material, which can mean anything from a fact sheet on "No Child Left Behind" to a whole curriculum.

The Hekman might also opt to receive posters from the Department of Defense, full-sized maps, and a miscellany of pamphlets and brochures. Some of the items the Hekman has acquired-such as This is Ann , the Dr. Seuss malaria pamphlet which Vander Pol recently spotted on eBay for $650-are valuable enough to be stored in the rare book room at Calvin.

Not all of the 165, 000 items in the Hekman's federal document collection are taking up shelf space, however. For several years, the library has been entering a records for online- only documents into Webcat, the online catalogue.

"Things are being used that we aren't aware are being used," Vander Pol said, "and that's true of the whole library now."

The federal collection sees regular traffic from the social work and political science disciplines. Recently, Vander Pol said, she helped an environmental studies class use the collection for their research.

"There's a big service component to this job," she said. "I do a lot of one-on-one with people."

That includes people from well outside the Calvin community. As a federal depository, the Hekman is required to serve the entire citizenry of the 3 rd district, which includes Ionia and Barry and most of Kent Counties.

"We get a lot of interesting questions," said Vander Pol.

She's looking forward to the 40th anniversary celebration and to serving Munchy Puff Pastry Cheese Strips from The Admiral Loves to Cook as just one more surprise from the federal collection.

"We never know when we get a box what's going to be in it," she said. "It's kind of like Christmas."

~written by Calvin staff writer Myrna Anderson

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