Federal Government Documents Tutorial Home

1. The Universe of Federal Government Information

2. Depository Libraries

3. SuDoc numbers

4. Federal Document Shelflist

5. The NCSU Libraries on-line catalog

6. Monthly Catalog

7. Monthly Catalog cumulative indexes

8. 1909 Checklist

9. CIS

10. Other Congressional Sources

11. Specialized Indexes

12. Patents and Trademarks

13. Periodical Indexes

14. Web sites

Guide to Government Information

Federal Government Documents Tutorial

The Universe of Federal Government Information

The federal government is among the world's largest producers of information.  There aren't many aspects of society in which the government is not involved, and for which some governmental agency has not produced information relevant to your topic.

Government information can be pretty dull and dry; but it can also be very exciting.  At the one extreme might be a grading manual for frozen brussels sprouts (A88.6/4:B 83).  At the other extreme could be matters you read about in the daily newspaper:

  • National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
  • Operation Desert Storm (D 214.2:W 44)
  • The Challenger disaster (Pr 40.8:Sp 1/R 29/v.-)
  • Mount St. Helens eruption (I 19.16:1250)

The federal government produces an unknown number of informational items that are not known to the general public.  These are "Classified", and, in our open society, should be only items that relate to national security.

The Government Printing Office (GPO), an agency of Congress, has a responsibility to identify all unclassified government publications.  GPO publishes a monthly bibliography, the Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, that contains lists of publications that are printed by, or become known to GPO.  Although it is meant to be comprehensive, the Monthly Catalog falls short:  there are an unknown number of publications that fail to be listed in the Monthly Catalog.

There are also a number of specialized indexes of governmental information, and GPO does not attempt to duplicate their contents in the Monthly Catalog. More about them later.

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