Finding Federal Government Publications

Federal Depository Library Program

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Mary Ries
211 Thompson Library
1858 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210-1285
Phone: 614-688-8770

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Finding Federal Government Publications

The United States Federal Government is made up of three branches:  the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial. Each branch is charged with specific tasks and functions under the Constitution.  Each publishes government documents and information, making the Federal Government one of largest producers of government publications in the world.  These publications run the gamut from primary source materials for scholarly research to informational pamphlets for the general public.  Formats include paper, microfiche, CD-ROM, DVD, and Internet accessible publications, including apps.

Some of the more useful general resources for locating Federal publications from any of the branches of the Federal Government are:

Useful Websites

A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies. (  U.S. Government sites indexed by agency, includes some quasi-government agencies, selected multi- and international sites, and government-related sites.

Catalog of U.S. Government Publications. (U.S. Government Publishing Office)  Finding tool for federal publications that includes descriptive records for historical and current publications and provides direct links to those that are available online. Users can search by authoring agency, title, subject, and general keyword, or click on "Advanced Search" for more options.  Bibliographic citations to publications distributed to Depository Libraries and links to publications on federal agency servers. 1994-present.

Core Documents of U.S. Democracy. (U.S. Government Publishing Office)  Full text of current and historic government documents including the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, U.S. Code, Code of Federal Regulations, and other essential publications.

GovEngine. (  Provides over 17,000 links to federal, state and local government websites and resources on the Internet. 

Government Documents. (National Archives. Archives Library Information Center (ALIC))  Links to government publications in the National Archives, etc.

govinfo. (U.S. Government Publishing Office)  The U.S. Government Publishing Office’s web site, disseminating official information from all three branches of the Federal Government.  Has links to the Budget of the United States, the Code of Federal Regulations, congressional documents, the Federal Register, laws, United States Courts Opinions, and more.  Replaced FDsys and GPO Access.

TRAIL:  Technical Report Archive & Image Library. (University of Washington. University of Washington Libraries/Center for Research Libraries.  Global Resources Network)  Searchable database of selected government reports published primarily before 1976. (U.S. General Services Administration's Technology Transformation Service. USAGov) Online guide to government information and services, including links to state and local public government website.  Spanish version available.  Has a chat reference option.  

Further Reading

Fundamentals of Government Information:  Mining, Finding, Evaluating, and Using Government ResourcesCassandra J. Hartnett, Andrea L. Sevetson, and Eric J. Forte.  Chicago, Illinois:  ALA Neal-Schuman, 2016.  Covers specific subject areas of government documents such as Health, Economic, Census, Legislation, etc. 

Government Information Essentials.  Susanne Caro (editor).  Chicago, Illinois:  ALA Editions, 2018.  Provides assistance to those who are involved with Government Documents Librarianship.  

Handbook of Federal Librarianship.  3rd Edition.  Washington, D.C.:  The Library of Congress, Federal Library and Information Center Committee, 2014. Handbook and quick reference guide for Government Information Librarians.

Introduction to United States Government Information Sources.  6th Edition.  Joe Morehead.  Englewood, Colorado:  Libraries Unlimited, 1999. Guide to general and specialized government information sources.  Somewhat dated. 

Library Guide - Documents by Type - Federal.  (University of Missouri Libraries) Links to resource types arranged alphabetically.  Examples of some of the topics covered are Administrative Decisions, Presidential Inaugural Addresses, and Podcasts.  Some resources listed are restricted, but OSU Libraries may have access to them so check the OSU Catalog.  Also not all of the resources listed are provided by government/academic entities and may require you to subscribe, etc.

Tapping the Government Grapevine the User Friendly Guide to U.S. Government Information Sources3rd Edition.  Judith Schiek Robinson.  Phoenix, Arizona:  Oryx Press, 1998.  Somewhat dated but humorous guide to government information sources.

United States Government Information:  Policies and Sources.   Peter Hernon, Harold C. Relyea, Robert E. Dugan, and Joan F. Cheverie.  Westport, Connecticut:  Libraries Unlimited, 2002. 

United States Government Manual.  (U.S. Government Publishing Office) Provides information on the agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. It also includes information on quasi-official agencies; international organizations in which the United States participates; and boards, commissions, and committees.

U.S. Government on the Web:  Getting the Information You need.  3rd Edition.  Peter Hernon, Robert E. Dugan, and John A. Shuler.  Westport, Connecticut:  Libraries Unlimited, 2003. Guide to researching government sources.