Do not try to collect a complete set of government documents; the government of the United States has not yet been able to do that.
Checking the library
Check the library over occasionally. It need not be done every year. It is an expensive thing to do, in time, and is not of great value when done; but now and then it must be gone through with. It is not necessary to close the library for this purpose. Take one department at a time and check it by the shelf-list. Make a careful list of all books missing. Check this list by the charging slips at the counter. For those still missing make a general but hasty search through the library. Go over each part of the library in this way. Then compile all lists of missing books into one list, arranged in the order of their call-numbers. Once or twice a week for several months go over the library with this list, looking for missing books. Even with access to the shelves, and with great freedom in matters of circulation, not many books will be found missing, under ordinary circumstances, at the end of a six months’ search. Such books as are still missing at the end of any given period, together with those that have been discarded as worn out, and those that have been lost by borrowers, should be properly marked on the shelf-list, and should have an entry in the accession book, stating what has become of them. If they are not replaced, it will be advisable to withdraw the cards representing them from the card catalog, or to write on the cards the fact of withdrawal and the cause.
Keep a record of all books withdrawn from the library for whatever reason.
Lists, bulletins, printed catalog
Give the public access to the card catalog if possible. If a dictionary catalog is made it will prove to be most helpful to the serious students. For the average reader, the person who wishes to get a recent book, the latest novel, etc., prepare lists of additions from month to month, post them up in some convenient place in the library, and put them in a binder to be left on desk or table in the delivery room.
Print lists of additions, if possible, in the local papers; also publish reference lists having to do with current events and matters of popular interest. Oftentimes the newspapers will furnish, for a small sum, extra copies of the lists which they have printed. If the means warrant the expenditure, a periodical bulletin, appearing once a month, or even oftener, containing information about the library, notes on recent additions, suggestions as to the use of books, lists on special subjects, and lists of books lately added may prove useful. Such a bulletin can often be maintained without cost to the library by having it published by some one who will pay its expenses by means of advertisements. The very best way of bringing new books to the attention of readers is to print a list of additions, with call-numbers, as condensed as possible, and with no other matter, for free distribution in the library.