Contact: Jenni Smith
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7650


October 25, 2001


DALLAS (SMU) -- The Southern Methodist University Central University Libraries are hosting a reception and exhibit at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, to celebrate the opening of the first collection in its new digital library initiative.

The exhibit will feature a half dozen computers set up to display the more than 200 World War II government documents, representing 6,000 pages of material from pamphlets, posters, booklets and photos, that have been digitized and are available for viewing on the Internet. The exhibit and reception will be in the Government Documents area of the library on the first floor of the Fondren Library Center, 6404 Hilltop Lane. The public is invited and refreshments will be served.

Some of the World War II government documents deal with issues such as how to contact the families of deceased war personnel, boarding houses for women working during the war, war bond plays and how the 4-H could help the war effort. Photos in the collection include German reconnaissance photos of bombing targets in England.

SMU’s Fondren Library was designated as a federal depository of selective government documents in 1925 and currently receives approximately 70 percent of the publications made available to depository libraries. The U.S. Government Documents collection in SMU’s Fondren Library includes paper, microfiche and electronic publications supporting research in the humanities, social sciences, education and business, as well as areas of interest to the general public.

SMU also began receiving state government documents when the Texas depository library program began in 1976, but not all state publications are included in the state depository program.

“By digitizing these materials, we are preserving for the future a piece of the past and protecting the aging materials from future damage,” said Central University Librarian Gillian McCombs. “Many of these U.S. government documents were printed quickly during wartime on the cheap paper available, which is disintegrating rapidly. Making these documents available on the web also expands access to researchers everywhere.”

SMU began digitizing the World War II documents following continued requests from patrons.

“Our goal is to digitize about 500 U.S. government documents, representing about 15,000 to 20,000 pages of materials, as funding permits,” said Stephen Short, government information and map librarian, who started the program of digitizing the materials.

“We want people to donate old government documents they may still have from World War II, such as old ration cards, pamphlets, draft cards and other World War II ephemera, whether it was issued from the United States government or from any of the Allied or Axis governments.”

For more information on this project, visit the Web site at or call Amy Carver, development officer for SMU Central University Libraries, at (214) 768-1939.