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Government Documents

The government sure has a lot to say

The U.S. government has a depository library program that sends its documents to participating libraries. Large libraries receive all the federal documents published through the depository program; most libraries collect a subset of what is available.

TIM'S TOUR: In the stairway, Tim runs into his classmate Lucille. She's doing her paper on Agent Orange and has been reading congressional hearings, scientific reports, and military documents in the government documents section.

Government documents are published on behalf of government agencies, Congress, the president, or the judiciary. A government document can be anything from a Census report to a catalog from an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. Any topic that any government body has influence on or interest in will likely be represented in Government Documents!

Government documents are available in paper, on microfiche, and on the Web. Since federal documents are shelved by a special call number system called the Superintendent of Documents System (SuDocs), libraries usually keep government documents in a separate section of the building. Some libraries also have documents published by the state government, the United Nations, or even other countries.

You can use indexes like the GPO catalog in GALILEO to locate government documents, or your library may include their documents in the online catalog. Check to see if your library has a separate reference desk for government documents; if not, ask at the main reference desk for help.

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