Government documents are publications of federal and local governments, including hearings, reports, statutes, treaties, periodicals (example: Monthly Labor Review), and statistics (e.g., U.S. Census). Documents of international governmental agencies (IGOs), such as the United Nations, and non-governmental agencies (NGOs), such as the World Trade Organization, are also generally considered government documents.
In libraries, government documents are usually shelved in a separate section by their own classification scheme. For United States federal documents, this is the SuDocs number. State government information is often classified with the Swank system, though some states, such as California, have their own. The United Nations also has its own call number system.
Government documents are published in a variety of formats: paper, microfiche, diskette, CD-ROM, and online.
Federal Depository Library Program
The United States Government Printing Office (GPO) is the world's largest publisher and makes its publications available to the public through the Federal Documents Depository Program. The Federal Depository Library Program was formed in 1813 and regularly distributes publications to libraries at no charge. These libraries are designated by Members of Congress. Currently, there are approximately 1,400 Depository Libraries which are located in all 50 states, six territories and the District of Columbia.
Depository Libraries by Type: 2004
The table below shows the US Federal Depository Library by type of institution.
|Academic (General) Libraries||52%|
|Academic law libraries||12%|
|Community college libraries||5%|
|State and special libraries||5%|
|Federal agency libraries||4%|
|Federal and state court libraries||3%|
- From the Federal Depository Library Directory, February 2004, page v.
- Open Directory Project category
- GPO Access - Access to tens of thousands of federal government documents from the Government Printing Office
- ALA Government Documents Roundtable
- 100 Milestone Documents of American History
- Library of Congress THOMAS
- Frequently used Government Documents sites