“Special libraries” are those libraries specially designated by members of congress to receive the publications of the geological survey.
Many thousands of books have been sent on special application to libraries not on the list. The depository, remainder, and special libraries together now number over 1300.
All the departments still control the distribution of their own publications, the superintendent of documents only distributing the sheep set, and such of the department publications as have been turned over to him by the departments for this purpose, or of which there have been remainders. Sometimes the number of copies of its own publications allotted to the department is very small and soon exhausted.
Librarians and others who want full information about the distribution, present methods of issue, etc., of public documents, should send for the First annual report of the superintendent of documents. In addition there have been issued from his office, since its establishment in March, 1895, a check list of public documents, and since January, 1895, a monthly catalog of current publications. Both are mailed free upon application.
The question of the most economical, and at the same time satisfactory manner of caring for documents in a library, cannot be considered in the space of so brief an article as this necessarily must be. After all, it is a question that must be settled by each library for itself, since it rests chiefly upon the extent to which the library can afford duplication.
Depository libraries have better opportunities than others for filling up the sheep set, and having this set they have the greater portion of those documents useful to the average library. A complete sheep set from the 15th Congress to the close of the 53d Congress numbers slightly over 3343V., and will require 860 feet of shelving, or six modern iron book stacks.
Though it is done in a few cases, the subject classification of the sheep set is not to be recommended. Where subject classification, or the incorporation of the documents in the general library, is desired, the cloth set is preferable, and is in most cases procurable. If a library can afford shelf room for both, it will be found more satisfactory to keep the sheep set intact, and to make a selection of such reports from the cloth set as will be locally useful to the library.
No small library should undertake to acquire any documents but those for which it has an actual use; only the largest libraries can afford the task of filling up sets of documents simply for the sake of having a complete record.
Small libraries, and all libraries in need of any special report or document, can get it, in most cases, by applying to the superintendent of documents. Return all your duplicates to the superintendent of documents; arrangements for their transportation will be made by him upon notification, and anything he has that is needed will be sent in exchange.