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AASHTO Digital Publications: State DOT Best Practices

This LibGuide shares information in one place on suggestions for how state DOTs can manage the AASHTO E-Publications process. Prepared by a member of the Midwest Transportation Knowledge Network in consultation with AASHTO's Publication Department.


Below are suggestions direct from state DOTs regarding practices they are using for managing AASHTO digital publications.

Use a Designated Email Address for Registration

Create a separate generic DOT email address for the AASHTO e-affiliate account or designate an existing one. See examples below.


You have to use an email address with a state DOT domain (no personal email addresses).

Create E-Affiliate Account for Registration

Best case (if desired): Create an E-Affiliate account using the generic email address you created just for registering AASHTO E-Pubs.

Alternative (may work better for you): Use an existing generic (not personal) e-affiliate account (such as the library's).

Centralize Registration and Communicate to Staff

Set up a process internally so that a "DOT designee" such as one individual or departmental unit (like the library) is responsible for registering for complimentary digital publications on behalf of the agency.

BEST ADVICE - Always be on the lookout for the email and register immediately after you receive it.

See examples of process communications below.

Consider emailing all the DOT staff within your agency who serve on AASHTO Standing Committees to either propose or present information about the new distribution process and the new centralized procedure. If feasible, the email communication could come from higher up like the head of Research (or their Division), Chief Engineer or Director.

OREGON DOT: Librarian gets the notification, has set up an Intranet page, and contacts whoever our member of the committee is to let them know that the librarian can manage the posting.

WISCONSIN DOT: That is how we are handling it in Wisconsin as well.  It did take awhile to educate people internally at WisDOT that the Librarian should access it first.

ILLINOIS DOT: Your best bet for future would be to write up a library process indicating the library is responsible for the AASHTO downloads for the agency. You could include language indicating if a person does not follow the agency policy / process then they will have to provide their DRM number so others can access the document. The DRM will allow others to open the document but not make any changes to the person’s e-affiliate account, so it shouldn’t be a big issue. Also, there is no right to privacy in this matter as it is a work-related issue. NEW!

Registration Issues

Occasionally, someone else within the DOT registers for the publication in error. Once registered for (even in error), the registration cannot be transferred back to the library. Only the original registrant's login can be used to access the publication for other agency staff.

MINNESOTA DOT: Comment 1 - "A MnDOT staffer downloaded one of the publications before we could get to it.  We had to create a separate log-on instruction sheet for just this title, which uses the employee’s DRM authentication instead of the library one we created and use for everything else. We routinely direct customers to the AASHTO DOT Compass Portal for any AASHTO titles that are available there.  There is no comparison to the ease of access in using the portal over the AASHTO-issued digital publications." NEW!

Comment 2 - "We were aware that something like that could happen, but didn’t have a way to prevent it since AASHTO sends out notifications to all committee members. What we did do, is to ask our Deputy Commissioner to email [a] note to staff asking that they refrain from downloading AASHTO content and contact the library first.  That email is the closest thing we have to a policy on the subject ... Our approach was to make sure that the announcements were also being sent to [the library director], our reference email address, and [the Electronic Resources Librarian].  I make sure that I download the publications as soon as I get the notifications so as to beat others to the punch.  If I’m on vacation, someone else has to do it lest we miss the boat ... I don’t really think there’s an ideal solution for transportation libraries." NEW!

NEW JERSEY DOT: "This happened to  us – our Assistant Commissioner downloaded the ERM – AASHTO Guide for Enterprise Risk Management.  I had to get him a DRM account number, and he had to give me his password - now that’s the only way for it to be accessible for NJDOT ... Although he just retired 9/1, we should still be able to access using his original download credentials.  Not an ideal situation by any means." NEW!

ILLINOIS DOT: If you don’t already have a policy/process spelled out [and someone other than the library registers the e-pub], I’d just ask for the DRM number and explain that they should not do any further downloads as this is a coordinated task under the responsibility of the Library staff. NEW!

Provide Internal Access to Staff

The best way to provide access for DOT staff would be to create a new intranet page which provides linked titles of AASHTO digital publications as well as access instructions. The page may also be an information landing page that links to a document library in Sharepoint. Information should be included that reiterates the five (5) concurrent user restriction. If the DOT offers an A-Z listing of resources, ask if this can be included.

WISS, JANNEY, ELSTNER ASSOCIATES: The library suggests that if you have SharePoint, you can post the documents into “Document Libraries” and then offer “Filtered Views” to display the info. For column headers for your repository I’d suggest at a minimum: 1) Filename (title of document, which links to the document); 2) Publisher (should you decide to add documents from other published into this repository); 3) Access Instructions (the text you have after Method 1, Method 2, etc on your sheet “Open the PDF.”… This tells people how they need to access the document); 4) Access Method (enter “Method 1” or “Method 2” or “Method 3”. This is so you can sort or filter, should you decide to have a “view” showing only one method).  You can add other info (or columns) for what is important to you. For example, you might want to add categories (Bridges; Guide Spec; Safety) to be able to filter particular info and push it out to groups.

Distribute Credentials to Staff


  • Internally publish DRM account number and password associated with generic AASHTO e-affiliate account.
  • Internally publish AASHTO e-affiliate user name and password

DOT staff at large can be informed via an agency-wide e-mail or employee newsletter. A link should also be included on the DOT's intranet page somewhere (and at the very least on the library website).

For staff who may be accustomed to receiving an email about the 10 print complimentary copies that were distributed to various offices, the library could send an e-mail to those offices with the intranet link for each new digital publication title.

Create Access/Printing Instructions

It is strongly suggested that DOT staff be instructed to notify their Library (or another designated person or department) if this occurs. Otherwise, there is no way to know how often this is happening since refusals cannot be tracked.

ILLINOIS DOT/MONTANA DOT: The library worked with the IT dept to push the OpenFile PlugIn out to all users so each individual user doesn't have to download it at the point of need.

MISSOURI DOT: Although our IT Dept. wasn't able to push the software to all staff PCs, it has been uploaded to our pre-approved "Software Center" which at least allows staff to download the add-on without needing administrative access. NEW!!


Ideally, the goal would be to catalog 1 print copy (printed for archival purposes), adding a note that access to the resource is restricted to DOT employees only. Any note regarding digital access would link to the resource as made available within the DOT's internal intranet.