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Library Resource Guide for: FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION

Federal Documents In Print

Brown is a Federal Depository library, which means that we receive publications from all branches and agencies of the Federal government. As of 2005, we were receiving in paper approximately 59% of what was published by the Government Printing Office (GPO), the official printer of the government.

First, if you are looking for bills, resolutions, laws, regulations, prints, markups, testimony, hearings, executive orders, floor activity and speeches in Congress, House and Senate Documents and Reports, legislative history, the Serial Set, Supreme Court decisions, presidential vetos or votes of Congress, please consult a different page - Types of Federal Documents.

The page we are on now has searching instructions mostly for government documents that are not listed above. Furthermore, this is a good place to start for government documents coming from the Executive Branch. At the library, this is a special collection, which is for the most part on the second floor. It has its own call numbering system, commonly called SuDoc (after the Superintendent of Documents).

Interesting Examples:


When you search for federal documents in print, try to think of the time it was published because it will make a great difference in the way you seach for it. Basically, the further back in time, the fewer the records there are online. So, you'll need to search our card catalog. Try to think in three time periods:



KNOWING GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS

Two important things to know about SuDoc numbers:

  1. The first letters of the numbers are the issuing agency. So, PREX documents come from the Executive Office of the President and will be shelved together.

  2. The numbering system is not decimal. So, think of the numbers on both sides of the decimal "point" as whole numbers. In the shelves, you would check for documents in this manner:

    • ED 1.2

    • ED 1.3

    • ED 1.20

    • ED 1.21

    • ED 1.22

How to Read and Interpret the SUDOC Classification Scheme
(http://www.uwec.edu/library/gp/sudoc.html)



RECENT DOCUMENTS

The Brown University Library's card catalog for federal documents was officially closed on January 1, 2005. This means that the record of every federal document that was received after that date is in Josiah. For documents prior to that date, try Josiah first since approximately 30% of the federal documents records are there before you go on to the other options listed below.

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DOCUMENTS FROM 1976 ONWARD

If you don't find what you need in Josiah and the document was published after 1976, try the GPO Catalog of U.S. Government Publications. We'll do a trial search. Let's say we're looking for government documents pertaining to SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative), better know as Star Wars.

1. Go to Advanced Search. In the Search dropdown, you can choose what to look for (title, author, etc.). For a general search, leave at keyword and type in sdi in the search field. Click on Start Search.


2. You now have the search results. 1) Records 1 - 10 of 27 shows that 27 records all together mention SDI. 2) What's especially useful are full text copies. The URLs will be given in the Internet Access column on the right. 3) If you don't see a URL, you will probably have to search for the item using its SuDoc number. We will discuss this momentarily.


3. If you don't see a URL, you need to check and see if Brown has it. Click on item 2 Unlocked, SDI technology. You get a record of this publication. 1) In Locate in a Library, you can check to see if Brown received it.


4. On the Locate in a Library page, you can search Federal depository libraries with different search methods. Since Brown University is located in Providence, type in Providence in the Locate the Federal depository libraries in any city field and then hit enter.


5. On the results page, you see Brown is listed. You can know search for the item using its SuDoc number. If you don't see Brown listed, you probably will have to interlibrary loan (ILL) this item from another library.


***First Caution! GPO Catalog has for the most part the listings of what Brown has, but not always. This catalog bases its listing on Brown's current item selction from GPO. So, if Brown canceled an item, it will not be listed here even though we might have past issues.

***Second Caution! Some important government documents were reclassified into the LC classification and put into the regular collection. You can always check in the government document's card catalog to make sure (see below).

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DOCUMENTS PRIOR TO 1976

Brown has been a federal depository library since before 1878. So, most of the records for these documents prior to 1976 are still in our card catalog (Actually, our federal government documents card catalog is a shelf-list, which is a list by the sequence of SuDoc numbers, not subject). This is all quickly changing and maybe the next time I update this page, we will have digitized records for everything!

Government Documents History:

In the olden days before computers, there were usually three catalogs for books. One was the card catalog out on the reference floor that listed books by subject. This way, the patrons could find things easily. Another was the shelf-list that was hidden in the back, where library staff could find things by call number. To save huge amounts of time and cost, the government documents department at Brown only had one catalog - the shelf-list. But, for our purposes, let's just call it a card catalog.

Searching for documents prior to 1976:

  • Come on down to the Rockefeller Library. The federal government documents card catalog is located on the 2nd floor. If you need to talk to me, make a left at the CIT reference desk and I'm in the office ahead. You know, the really handsome guy, working away like a diligent worker. So if you have any questions, stick your head in and ask.

  • You can search three ways:

    1. by SuDoc number. If you already know it.

    2. by subject. If you don't know the SuDoc number, you can search by subject. Good for general searching.

    3. by title. A subject search is good if you only have general ideas of what you're looking for. A title search is good if you already know the title of the document. If you know the title of the document you're looking for, try a title search. Let's discuss each one.

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BY SUDOC NUMBER

A) If you already know the SuDoc number, go to the card catalog and look it up. So, in order to find CR 1.2: Sch 6/15, you need to look in drawer 15 which has the SuDoc numbers CC - D 1.2. You can see on the card that this is a report.

  1. The SuDoc number is on the upper-left. This would direct you to the item in the government document shelves on the second floor.

  2. However, not every document is on the second floor. As you can see in the bottom-right in Classified, this particular item was reclassified into the Library of Congress call numbering system. Follow that call number to find the item in the general collection in the Rockefeller.

* Be careful! The superscript switched to a forward slash (6/15) as the years went by. It's the same thing. It usually means a volume in a series.

B) If you do not find a card that corresponds to the SuDoc number is means we do not have this document and you need to borrow it from another library (ILL).

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BY SUBJECT

A) In front of the card catalog, there is the government documents reference book shelf. If you want to search by subject use the Cumulative Subject Index to the Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications, Z1223-A18 Index 1900-1971 v.2, which is a big index of subject terms that categorizes entries in the Montly Catalog into searchable subjects. The Montly Catalog is the monthly list of documents produced by the Federal government.

Let's say you want to research the federal government's role in the desegration of schools back in the 60s. We'll search under the subject term desegregation in Volume Four, Compatibility-Drugs. Compatibility to Drugs are the subjects covered in this volume. As you can see on page 588, you are given Desegregation in Education, see Race problems. This occurs often using these indexes. You need to find the right subject term to start your search.

B) In Volume Twelve, Public-Sadines, you find the subject term Race problems on page 150. Here you find a huge list, over two pages worth, of subheadings within the subject of race problems. Search the list for anything related to what we're interested in - the federal role in desegregration. On page 151, you find school desegration with subheadings. The subheading Federal enforcement (70) 243 is what we're interested in. So, these numbers give the location of this document in the Montly Catalog. The parentheses, (70), are the year and the following number, 243, is the entry number.

*Be careful! Before 1947, the following number was not the entry number, but the actual page number in the Catalog.

C) In the government documents reference book shelf, you will find the series of Montly Catalogs. We need year 1970. You will find enty 243 for the document Federal enforcement of school desegregation on page 15. In the citation, we are interested in two notations.

CAREFUL!
Unfortunately, there are holes in the coverage in the Cumulative Subject Index. Sometimes, a document that you need will only be listed in the Index of the Monthly Catalog. For example, the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Pr36.8:K38/R29) is only given in the Index of the Monthly Catalog, not in the Subject Index.

  1. The bullet means that this document was sent to federal depository libraries. Since Brown is one, we should have it, but you need to make sure.

  2. The number CR 1.2: Sch 6/15 is the SuDoc number for this document. Remember, these documents are a separate collection, so the SuDoc numbers are the call numbering system for government documents.

Now that you have the SuDoc Number for the document, you need to check in the card catalog to see if we actually have it at the Library.

D) The government documents card catalog behind the reference book shelf is cataloged by SuDoc number. So, in order to find CR 1.2: Sch 6/15, you need to look in drawer 15 which has the SuDoc numbers CC - D 1.2. You can see on the card that this is a report.

  1. The SuDoc number is on the upper-left. This would direct you to the item in the government document shelves on the second floor.

  2. However, not every document is on the second floor. As you can see in the bottom-right in Classified, this particular item was reclassified into the Library of Congress call numbering system. Follow that call number to find the item in the general collection in the Rockefeller.

* Be careful! The superscript switched to a forward slash (6/15) as the years went by. It's the same thing. It usually means a volume in a series.

If you do not find a card that corresponds to the SuDoc number is means we do not have this document and you need to borrow it from another library (ILL).

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BY TITLE

A) The other way to search the card catalog is by title. In the government documents reference shelf, you can use the Cumulative Title Index to United States Documents 1789-1976, 1-Size Z1223 Z7 C9 16. Using the example from the subject search, Federal enforcement of school desegregation, you can look this document up by its title.

B) Titles are listed alphabetically. Look in Volume VI Eliminate - Fir on page 426, and you will find the entry and the SuDoc number.

Now that you have the SuDoc Number for the document, you need to check in the card catalog to see if we actually have it at the Library.

C) The government documents card catalog behind the reference book shelf is cataloged by SuDoc number. So, in order to find CR 1.2: Sch 6/15, you need to look in drawer 15 which has the SuDoc numbers CC - D 1.2. You can see on the card that this is a report.

  1. The SuDoc number is on the upper-left. This would direct you to the item in the government document shelves on the second floor.

  2. However, not every document is on the second floor. As you can see in the bottom-right in Classified, this particular item was reclassified into the Library of Congress call numbering system. Follow that call number to find the item in the general collection in the Rockefeller.

* Be careful! The superscript switched to a forward slash (6/15) as the years went by. It's the same thing. It usually means a volume in a series.

If you do not find a card that corresponds to the SuDoc number is means we do not have this document and you need to borrow it from another library (ILL).

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