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Government Information

This is a guide to research using government information.

Subject Guide - Getting Started

If you are new to conducting research:

Consider reviewing the Starting Your Research tutorial to learn the phases and processes of doing research.

For general library information: New to Using the Library

Doing research using government information involves asking questions about what kind of information, what geographic jurisdiction and what time frame you need, then figuring out where to look whenever appropriate to find the information. Almost all current (since 2006) government documents are available electronically through Library Search. Records for selected documents back to 1976 are also available via Library Search. You can search by subject, title, or the Government Documents number (not a piece of information you usually have)

Consider reviewing the Starting Your Research tutorial to learn the phases and processes of doing general research.

Start your government research with these key resources:

Library Search - see below for vagaries concerning the presence of records for government documents in this database/catalog.

International Government Documents (IGO's) (most) are cataloged using LC classification and integrated into the library's main collection.They can be found using Library Search. There are a small number of documents issued by precursors to current IGO's (located in remote storage. There is a very complete collection of League of Nations (precursor to the United Nations), uncatalogued, located near the U.S. and British Government Documents Collection located on the first floor of Mudd.

Federal (U.S.) Government Documents in print are filed using Sudoc (Superintendent of Documents) classification system, and about 80% of post 1976 are available through Library Search. Most pre-1976 (@ 150,000) are not available using Library Search. They are housed in the U.S. Government Publications collection on the first floor of Mudd.

California State Government Documents are classified using LC Classification, available via Library Search, but housed in a separate location, at the end of the U.S. Government Documents Collection on the first floor of Mudd.

Local Government Documents are scattered, mostly LC classified in the main stacks, available through Library Search, and not currently collected.

British Government Documents (a substantial print collection) are NOT classified or in Library Search. They are housed in a separate collection located at the beginning of the U.S. Government Documents collection on the first floor of Mudd . There are some finding tools shelved at the beginning of the collection. For questions about the British Documents Collection, it would be best to consult the librarians for Government Information, Political Science or History. Their contact information can be found here: Contact a Subject Librarian

GPO Monthly Catalog of Government Publications - The Monthly Catalog is maintained by the Government Printing Office as its official catalog/record of government publications made available for distribution to government depository libraries. This term is actually a misnomer as almost all government documents are made available electronically. Paper copies of some titles are still published (like The U.S. Statutes at Large and a few other titles) but almost all (99%) are available as electronic documents.

If you need further assistance, please contact the services desk for location questions, and the librarians for subject related questions.

General Indexes & Catalogs

Use general indexes to find government publications on specific subjects and for specific time frames. Difficult to use,it is probably useful to have some background information or professional assistance to be successful in using some of the older indexes. is really user-friendly, but is really just a guise to government services, not documentation.

Secondary Resources for Government Information

Use secondary resources for information about government publications. The only databases with actual government documents in them are Library Search; P.A.I.S (Public Affairs Information Service) and Proquest Congressional.

Social Sciences Librarian

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Mary Martin
Research, Teaching, & User Services - The Claremont Colleges Library
909 621-8923