A government document or publication is information published in various formats at government expense by or for a government agency.
The first step in locating a federal government document in print is to find its "Sudoc" number, which is a number assigned by the Superintendent of Documents in the Government Printing Office (GPO). The first few digits of the "Sudoc" number refer to its issuing agency so that all of the publications issued by a particular agency are shelved together. Beware that sometimes the "Sudoc" number of a certain title may change due to agency reorganization.
Several indexes that will help you to locate a "Sudoc" number for a particular federal document you may need are listed below.
GPO Monthly Catalog
- (print, 1953- ) (Gov Docs - GP 3.8)
- (OCLC First Search, July, 1976- ) On campus access only.
(FDsys, January, 1994- )
Search the print index by author, title, subject, and title/keyword to get a monthly catalog entry number (i.e., 92-1348). Complete bibliographic information may be located in the main entry section in monthly catalog entry number order.
Search the online sites using various combinations of your search terms to access the complete bibliographic record; use "advanced search" to limit by date.
CIS Index (print, 1970- ) Ref
Indexes by subject, title, bill number, report number, document number, hearing number, and committee and subcommittee chairmen will give you a CIS accession number (i.e., H381-44, S261.38, or J840-1) to locate a description in the abstract volume. Some items may be located on CIS microfiche, which are filed by year and the CIS accession number in Microform Cabinets 3, 4, 5 and 6.
Some government documents held by the Law Library are listed on INNOPAC, the Library's online catalog of its holdings.
Villanova Government Document Holdings (Reference Desk and Government Documents)
This black binder contains a listing by "Sudoc" number order of federal government documents owned by the Law Library or Falvey Library, Villanova University's main campus library with which we share our depository status. Many non-legal documents such as those relating to the census, education, or business are available at Falvey.
Most of our United States government documents are shelved in the movable shelving area in the Lower Stacks and are arranged in "Sudoc" number order, although there are exceptions. Some of these are as follow:
Congressional Record - daily account of Congressional proceedings
- (print, 1965- ) (Lower Stacks - 1st movable shelf unit directly opposite microform cabinets)
- (microfiche, 1873- ) (Lower Stacks - Microform Cabinets 11 & 12)
- (online, 1989-) Thomas
House and Senate reports and miscellaneous documents - reports from Congressional committees (advance sheets replaced by bound volumes called Serial Set)
Federal Register - daily publication documenting agency actions, presidential proclamations and executive orders
- (current 2 years) (Reading Room)
- (prior years) (Lower Stacks - Microform Cabinets 12 & 13)
Code of Federal Regulations - compilation of the final rules and regulations published in the Federal Register
- (current edition) (Reading Room)
- (older editions) (Lower Stacks - Microform Cabinets 7 & 8)
United States Code - subject arrangement U. S. laws
- (current edition) (Reading Room & Lower Stacks)
United States Reports - official compilation of U. S. Supreme Court decisions
Statistical Abstract of the United States - collection of statistics compiled by government agencies
United States Government Manual - directory of agencies and personnel in the three branches of government
Some government periodicals are shelved in the periodical area. Some examples of these are: Army Lawyer, EPA Journal, and FDA Consumer.
Documents issued in microfiche format are housed in microform cabinets. Examples include: EEOC Decisions, GAO reports, and Congressional House and Senate bills.
Many government agencies now provide documents at their websites. To locate a government agency website, try USA.gov, the official U.S. government information portal. Alternatively, use a web search engine such as Google to find government agency websites and documents. Google also has a specialty U.S. Government Search page.