National Transportation Library
 Collection Development and Maintenance Policy

December 2012

 PDF Version

Library Background and Mission
Library Vision
Organization of This Document
NTL Digital Repository Collection Criteria
Collection Overview
Digital Library Acquisitions Methods
Selection Statement
1.   Time Coverage
2. Sources of Documents
3. Core Subject Areas
4.  Staff Responsibilities
5.   Duplication and multiple copies
6.   Languages
7.   Retention and de-selection
8.   List of Formats
Headquarters (HQ) Library Collection Criteria
Collection Overview
HQ Library Acquisition Methods
General Selection Statement
1. Genera Criteria
2. Format of Material
3. Staff Responsibilities
4. Current Materials vs. Retrospective Materials
5. Duplication and Multiple Copies
6.   Languages
7.   Online Services
8.   Gifts and Donations
9.   Retention and De-selection
I. Law Collection
Core Subject Areas
Selection Statement
II.      Technical Collection
Core Subject Areas
Selection Statement


Library Background and Mission

The mission of the National Transportation Library (NTL), part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration’s (RITA)  Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), is to maintain and facilitate access to statistical and other information needed for transportation decision-making at the Federal, State, and local levels, serve as the repository for federal transportation research, and to coordinate with public and private transportation libraries and information providers to improve information sharing among the transportation community. 

NTL exists for two primary functions:
(1) to serve as a central library for U.S. DOT Headquarters (HQ) units in the Washington, D.C. area, and
(2) to serve as a digital library for the transportation community at large by developing tools, techniques, and institutional relationships that help policy makers, researchers, engineers, lawyers, administrators, transportation workers, and the general public.

NTL’s physical collections are located at Room W12-300,1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590 and available for use by federal employees, contractors, companies, researchers and the general public. These collections and services are offered primarily to assist DOT HQ employees in the performance of their administrative, operational and research duties by providing books, periodicals, indexes, technical reports, manuals, and other library materials in electronic, hard copy and microform formats that deal with land/marine based transportation topics.

NTL’s digital repository is an archive of electronic transportation resources available over the web from the NTL website,, which is a channel through which patrons may communicate with librarians, utilize research tools, access the Digital Repository, and read about current library news.

Library Vision

The National Transportation Library (NTL) is a dynamic Federal gateway that responds to the research needs of the greater transportation community by providing leadership, access to both print and electronic transportation resources, and utilizing partnerships and collaboration to offer premier research and knowledge management services.

Organization of This Document

This collection development policy is divided into two sections covering the digital library and central (or HQ) library functions separately.

NTL Digital Repository Collection Criteria

Collection Overview

In a continuing effort to increase accessibility to users, the NTL Digital Repository collects and maintains significant research and statistical publications. These resources have value to federal, state, and local transportation decision makers, transportation analysts, and researchers. Currently, the Digital Repository contains approximately 40,000 items.

The Digital Repository contains resources that may or may not have a physical counterpart. Thus, the collection may overlap with the Law and Technical collections of the HQ library. All PDF files are full-text searchable in the repository. 

Digital Library Acquisitions Methods

Materials are routinely provided to the NTL for the digital archive by the publishers through agreements. New resources for the collection are accepted and stored digitally through a variety of methods:
•           Emailed files or links sent to;
•           Access to an FTP site is granted to NTL cataloging or systems staff for downloading files; or
•           Files are sent on CD, DVD, or removable hard drive.

Priority is given to materials that have broad usefulness for planning and research for transportation decision-makers. Materials may be born digital, or digitized by the publisher or the NTL. The NTL is particularly interested in preservation of born-digital documents that may be only as permanent as the Web site hosting them. Print documents will be accepted for possible digitization based on NTL priorities.

Selection Statement

The following will be considered when evaluating materials for acquisition, renewal, donation and retention.

1.   Time Coverage

The NTL focuses on collecting or linking to published transportation materials dating back to 1995. Older materials at risk or of particular significance are added to the digital repository as time and resources permit. Some of the resources found in the Digital Repository date to the early 1900’s.

2. Sources of Documents

Emphasis is placed on collecting documents, by priority, from the following publishers:
i.          United States Department of Transportation agencies
ii.         State Departments of Transportation, local agencies, MPOs, tribal road agencies
iii.        Other federal agencies
iv.        Universities
v.         Professional organizations
vi.        Private sector sources
All materials in the NTL Digital Repository are in the public domain and/or explicit permission has been provided by the rights holder for NTL to make their materials available for free over the web.

3. Core Subject Areas

Materials in transportation and related fields are within scope of the NTL Digital Repository.

4.  Staff Responsibilities

At the discretion of the library director, the systems librarians and catalogers are responsible for reviewing and cataloging new materials for the Digital Repository.

5.   Duplication and multiple copies

Duplicate electronic versions of the exact same document can be linked from a single record in the NTL Digital Repository. In the case of similar electronic versions, if there is any change in a resource (e.g., pagination, listing of institutional authors/sponsors, version, other additional content, etc.), a new, separate record will be created for each file.

6.   Languages

The Digital Repository collects resources in English.

7.   Retention and de-selection

All items of relevance to the transportation field and received by the library are to be added to the NTL Digital Repository. All items are held permanently in the Digital Repository. No items of relevance to the transportation field are to be excluded.

8.   List of Formats

Electronic formats, including PDF, HTML, PPT, SWF, MPEG, WMV, XLS, DOC, TXT

Headquarters (HQ) Library Collection Criteria

Collection Overview

The Headquarters Library, located within the US Department of Transportation Headquarters, contains a Law Collection and Technical Collection, consisting of resources in various formats. It contains information that is utilized for decision-making at the federal, state, and local levels and supports the work of U.S. DOT HQ programs.

HQ Library Acquisition Methods

The central library function acquires materials in the following ways:

  • Purchase: blanket purchase agreements, deposit accounts, direct orders, and GPO/Information Services orders.
  • Internal distribution of DOT publications.
  • Gifts from DOT offices, employees, and publishers.

DOT Library follows appropriate Federal procurement regulations, Departmental directives, and guidelines in all of its transactions.  GSA and other government contracts, .e.g. FEDLINK, are utilized wherever possible, to obtain the goods or services in the most cost effective manner.

General Selection Statement

Specific collection information on the HQ library law and technical collections follows in the next sections, but the following will be considered when evaluating all materials for acquisition, renewal, donation and retention:

1. Genera Criteria

The library collects in a primarily patron-driven model. The following types of materials are purchased based almost exclusively on patron requests for materials:

  • New hardcopy books or reports
  • New journal subscriptions

Other criteria used for selection include:

  • Potential use, including projected frequency of use.
  • Whether the materials bring unique coverage to the collection in the subject area, add depth to an otherwise shallow area of coverage, concern new trends, or duplicate existing library materials.
  • Reputations of the author or editor and the publisher or producer and currency of coverage.
  • Current and permanent value, including consideration of whether the materials will be updated.
  • Availability of alternative formats or sources.
  • Cost, including continuing and indirect costs. Budgetary constraints are weighed against attaining the best possible materials.
  • Licensing restrictions.
  • Format and technical support.
  • Physical quality.
  • Available space.

2. Format of Material

Generally, preference is given to electronic formats over hardcopy formats, resources permitting. When materials are available in both print and electronic, the decision to purchase one format or the other, or both, is based on usage frequency, convenience of use, the need for multiple access points, library shelf space, and price. Microformats (including film and fiche) are also used as mediums for historical collections and retention.

3. Staff Responsibilities

Recommendations from staff members are made to the Director. The Director has the final say on the review of new materials. Librarians work in close collaboration with the Library Director and the acquisitions staff to acquire materials.  All subscriptions are reevaluated on an ongoing basis.

4. Current Materials vs. Retrospective Materials

The Library generally purchases only current materials.  The Library will purchase and accept donations of retrospective materials to replace older materials missing from essential core collections.  Subscriptions to historical electronic collections include HeinOnline’s Libraries.

Materials formerly available only in paper and microform are increasingly made available through electronic resources.

5. Duplication and Multiple Copies

Multiple copies and duplication of resources will be avoided unless there is a demonstrated need based on usage.  Back-up materials for the library include electronic and micro-format, if duplicates for print copies are necessary.

6.   Languages

The Library collects materials in English.

7.   Online Services

The Headquarters Library offers electronic access to research databases for DOT headquarters staff using IP authentication while complying with vendor license agreements. The Library offers online services on a desktop basis to all DOT Headquarters employees and contractors through the NTL home page. There are over one hundred databases in the RIDER system as well as search services described in the Finding Tools Section of this Collection Development Policy Statement.

8.   Gifts and Donations

The Headquarters Library welcomes gifts of legal and technical materials. The Library accepts donations that conform to the Library’s Collection Development Policy, if no conditions are attached. The Library Director makes the decision to accept gifts.  The Library reserves the right to decline gifts that do not conform to its selection guidelines and gift policy.

When gifts are accepted, the Library determines the classification, housing and circulation of these materials. The Library retains the right to dispose of gifts at any time and in any manner deemed appropriate. No guarantee can be made that any gift will be a permanent part of the collection. The Library will not be responsible for an appraisal or for documenting a valuation for tax or other purposes. The donor assumes responsibility for the safe shipment of the gift to the Library and any costs incurred therein.

9.   Retention and De-selection

The collection is weeded on a regular basis. When weeding the collection, staff will use this document and refer to the current library weeding criteria as guides. Resources available via the library’s online subscription should also be considered in the weeding process.

I. Law Collection


Approximately half of the Headquarters Library is devoted to legal materials. This collection is utilized as needed by staff attorneys and DOT HQ employees.

Core Subject Areas

Administrative law

Statutory law

State law and regulations

Government contract law


Federal law and regulations


Environmental law

Form books

Employment law

Constitutional law

Court rules

Employment discrimination law

Public land law

Law reviews and legal periodicals

Transportation law (all modes)

Federal grants

Legal education materials

Legal research

Federal practice

Criminal law

Bankruptcy law



Selection Statement

A. U.S. Primary Materials
The Library provides extensive access to information concerning the law of the United States and its jurisdictions, including federal and state court reports, statutes and regulations, Congressional debates, reports, hearings, and other necessary finding aids.

1. Case law
The Law Library keeps a collection of Federal reporters in print, but the collection will not be kept current after 2012. Federal, state, and agency court opinions are available at the Law Library in a variety of media with preference toward the electronic and official version.

2. Statutes & Court Rules
The Law Library maintains current sets of the United States Code, the United States Code Annotated, the United States Code Service, the Statutes at Large and the United States Code Congressional and Administrative News. Official Codes and Court Rules for all fifty states and the District of Columbia are shelved with the state materials, but will not be kept current after 2012.  Rely on Lexis and Westlaw for state and federal session laws, and municipal codes and ordinances. Prior editions of the United States Code are maintained in print and via HeinOnline.

3. Congressional Documents
Collect two print copies of the current year of the Congressional Record (daily).  For previous years, rely on microfiche, HeinOnline, and GPOAccess.

The Law Library maintains a historical print collection of Congressional reports and hearings related to transportation. Rely on Lexis, Westlaw, GPO Access, Proquest Legislative Insight, and interlibrary loan for recent reports.

The Law Library maintains a historical collection of bound legislative histories related to transportation.  Access to compiled legislative histories is also available via Proquest Legislative Insight, Hein Online, Westlaw, and Lexis.

4. Administrative Materials
Collect two print copies of the Federal Register (retaining one year only in print). The Law Library retains bound print volumes of the Federal Register (1936 - 1996) and a microfiche set (1936 - 1979).  Access to current and historic Federal Registers is also available via HeinOnline, Lexis, Westlaw, and GPOAccess.

The Law Library maintains a comprehensive collection of federal regulations, including the current and historical (transportation titles only) Code of Federal Regulations in print.  These sources are also available online via HeinOnline, Lexis, Westlaw and GPOAccess.

Rely on Westlaw, Lexis and the Internet for state administrative registers.
Rely on Lexis, Westlaw and the Internet for state administrative codes.

Federal Administrative Agency Decisions – The Library maintains a collection of the Interstate Commerce Commission Reports (1887-1984), Motor Carrier Cases (1936-1986), and American Maritime Cases (1923-1996).  Other agency decisions can be found on HeinOnline, Lexis and Westlaw.


B. Secondary Materials
1. Legal Treatises
The Law Library acquires and maintains a collection of general, multi-jurisdictional, and federal substantive treatises covering most legal subject areas relevant to the subject areas outlined in this Policy.

2. Legal Encyclopedias
The Law Library maintains one set of each national legal encyclopedia.

3. Legal Newspapers
The Law Library maintains subscriptions to Legal Times and the National Law Journal.

4. Journals and Periodicals
The Law Library maintains print subscriptions to selected law reviews and law journals with a transportation focus. Subscriptions to HeinOnline databases have enhanced and expanded the collection.

5. Restatements, Uniform Laws, and Model Acts
The Law Library maintains a comprehensive collection of the Restatements, uniform laws and model acts, including older editions.

C. Government Documents
The Law Library acquires those publications produced by the government that are relevant to legal research and reference.  Selection decisions are guided by the same criteria employed for the selection of non- government items. The Library collects GPO published federal legislation and legislative history materials in various formats.  Selected resources include the Statutes at Large, and United States Code Congressional and Administrative News. Electronic resources include HeinOnline (Federal Legislative Histories, Statutes at Large, Congressional Documents, and Federal Register Libraries) and Proquest Legislative Insight.


D. Finding Tools
1. Citators
 The Law Library no longer acquires citation services in print.  LexisNexis Shepard’s and Westlaw KeyCite are available for legal citation research.

2. Dictionaries
The Law Library acquires at least one copy of dictionaries for the reference collection in the following subject areas:

  • Legal
  • Medical
  • General
  • Any others deemed relevant

The Law Library also acquires abbreviation dictionaries as deemed relevant.

3. Digests
The Law Library maintains the West’s Federal Practice, regional and subject specific digests in print. State digests are available via Westlaw.

4. Directories
The Law Library maintains a reference collection of current legal directories. Superseded editions of directories are withdrawn from the collection.  Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory is available via LexisNexis.

5. Practice Materials
The Law Library maintains a representative collection of federal and administrative agency practice materials.

6. Periodical Indexes
The Law Library maintains electronic subscriptions to Hein’s Law Journal Library. The Index to Legal Periodicals (1926 – 1981) is available in print.

E. Loose-leaf Services
The Law Library acquires and maintains loose-leaf services that complement and enhance the general collection.  Subscriptions are evaluated annually before renewal.

F.  Formbooks
The Law Library maintains a collection of AmJur Legal Forms 2d and AmJur Pleading and Practice Forms.

G. Briefs
The Law Library does not collect briefs in print.  Rely on Lexis, Westlaw, Internet and interlibrary loan for access.


II.        Technical Collection


The Technical Collection contains reports and statistical information from surface, pipeline, and maritime transportation. Its materials comprise nearly half of the Headquarters Library.

Core Subject Areas

Automotive safety

Intermodal shipping

Ships and shipbuilding

Civil engineering

Maritime transportation

Transportation research

Congressional documents

Mass transit

Trucks and trucking

Data warehousing


Environmental sustainability

Hazardous materials

Ports and harbors

Urban planning

Highways and bridges







Selection Statement

A.   Physical and Electronic Resources
1.   Books
Books are cataloged in the Technical Collection according to Library of Congress Classification system and selected according to the subject interests of the Department. Note: DOT Books and magazines are provided on a regular basis by the DOT printing function.

2.   Scholarly and Trade Periodicals
Periodicals about engineering, science, and DOT regulated topics are available in hard copy, microfilm or electronic format. A Periodical Holdings List at the reference desk lists over 500 journals by title, subject and publisher. The preferred acquisition method is electronic. This is because it provides desktop access, speeds delivery to the employee, and reduces shelf space for the NTL staff and library users.

3.   US Government Technical Reports
Technical reports on paper are cataloged for the Technical Collection. Uncataloged microfiche versions are filed in a microforms room by NTIS or DTIC order number. The printed reports are usually provided by the DOT agency or its contractors. Non-DOT reports are purchased from NTIS or obtained directly from a government source.

4.   CDs from Trade Associations, Scholarly, and Commercial Publishers
Subscriptions may cover all serial publications of an association for a year, and may be contained in the library’s collection on CD/DVD.  These are cataloged and available by call number in the library.  USDOT reports and other publications submitted to the library in electronic format on CD are added to the NTL Digital Repository.

5.   Standards and Specifications
DOT offices cite standards and specifications in their proposed and final regulations. They are ordered upon DOT office request. They may be retained by the requesting office and eventually placed in the reference collection to assure availability for DOT staff and visitors.

6.   Transportation-related Loose-leaf services
The Technical Collection staff catalog and maintain these (e.g. J.J. Keller trucking newsletters). Due to filing time, mail room passage and other potential delays, this type of subscription is best handled electronically.

7.   Commercial Newsletters
Commercial newsletters track DOT interests and are preferred in electronic format. They are to be sent directly to internal DOT users, since their information is time sensitive (e.g. Washington Letter on Transportation).

8.   Directories

9.   Dun & Bradstreet Business Information Reports
These are provided by the NTL to DOT staff who need current business data about regulated companies. Access to the request system is through  and is restricted to DOT employees with authorized access from their agency.

B.   Finding Tools
1. Government Printing Office
The URL to the Government Printing Office is It has an advanced search feature that limits keyword searches by year.

2.   Professional and Trade journal Book Reviews
See the Periodical Holding List portion for publishers by name (e.g. American Society of Civil Engineers), or by title portion for specific magazines (e.g. Professional Mariner).

3.   NTL website
The URL to the NTL home page is It contains several places where new and old materials can be found through electronic searching. Information about new print titles, quick links to related sites, special collections, electronic journals, and databases can be found here.