Home > Libraries
Erie County Public Library
The city of Erie, located in the far northwest corner of Pennsylvania on the shores of Lake Erie, is situated in the Great Lakes region of the United States. Like Buffalo and Cleveland, Erie was historically known for its steel manufacturing; although steel production still plays a role in the local economy, established and emerging areas such as healthcare and biofuel research are now growth industries. Erie is also home to the Erie County Public Library, the focus of this month’s Spotlight on Federal depository libraries.
The Erie County Public Library was first designated as a depository library in 1897. Under the Library Info category of the library’s Web site, patrons can learn about the library’s history in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). The first Superintendent of Documents at the U.S. Government Printing Office, Francis A. Crandall, was active in sponsoring the library’s entry into the FDLP. The main branch, which is officially known as the Raymond M. Blasco, M.D. Memorial Library, reflects the contributions of a past benefactor. The library system operates four additional branches in the Erie area plus an active bookmobile service.
The local economy plays a role in the collection development for the library. Manufacturing as well as agriculture are still prominent features in the region and the library’s Federal documents help to support the diverse, small to mid-sized enterprises in the surrounding area. Many of these businesses have a direct interest in Federal regulations that can potentially impact their activities, so the FDLP collection and the informed access that is provided are vital resources for the community.
The patrons of the library are primarily from the surrounding Erie area. Many come to the library to gain assistance in accessing Government benefits; since most Federal programs provide access to benefits through electronic applications, computer access is indispensable to many patrons. The library’s catalog includes many links to full-text electronic Government documents.
The library has a sizable collection of maps as well; these include topographic maps of Pennsylvania, nautical charts for the Great Lakes, and maps of foreign countries. The Erie County Public Library also has a shared housing agreement with the Erie County Law Library. Legal materials are processed at the library and then housed and maintained at the law library located at the Erie County Courthouse.
Andrew Miller has been the FDLP coordinator since 2010. He wears many hats, as his responsibilities include Government documents, library technology training, and adult and children’s collections. He relates that the library’s reputation as a Federal Government information center leads to numerous referrals from neighboring libraries and institutions.
In addition to referrals, the FDLP collections are made visible in many ways. Prominent banners and signage within the libraries direct patrons to the collections. Past events included a celebration on the library’s 110th year as depository. The Government Documents site provides information on the Federal documents collection and includes many helpful links to Federal, state, and local resources. For its care of the collections and the many ways it serves its community, GPO salutes and celebrates the Erie County Public Library.