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Government Documents at Purdue

Introductory information to government documents, examples, and FAQs.

Government Information Collection Development Policy

General: Government agencies produce an interdisciplinary array of information on every topic from accounting to zoology.  Academic libraries have decided to include government information resources in their collections to provide additional support to the curricular and research requirements of their parent institutions.  These libraries, particularly those that are U.S. Federal Depository Libraries, must also go beyond the needs of their parent institutions to serve the government information needs of their congressional district or state.

These government information resources have traditionally been in paper and maps with some also available in various microtext formats such as microfilm and microfiche.  The past decade and a half has seen a major transformation in government information access and delivery to a variety of electronic media. Initially, these electronic media consisted of floppy disks and CD-ROMs but they have evolved into a variety of World Wide Web channels and formats including websites, HTML, PDF, and other software based documents, databases, Geographic Information Systems, geospatial resources, social networking mechanisms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and audio and video webcasts.  Statistical data is also an integral component of government information resources. Paper format documents still remain a significant part of government information resources collections although electronic access and delivery is more prevalent.

Federal Depository Library Program and United States Documents:  Purdue Libraries have been a U.S. federal depository library since 1907 when congressional legislation granting depository library status to land grant university libraries was passed.  The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) is administered by the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) a congressional support agency.  During the subsequent century, Purdue Libraries have built up significant tangible format government document collections reflecting the university’s interdisciplinary curricular and research needs along with striving to meet the government information needs of the surrounding 4th congressional district and Indiana residents.

Purdue’s decentralized library system has resulted in tangible format government documents collections being dispersed to school and subject libraries.  It is generally the case in most federal depository libraries that the Government Documents collections are in one area of one building.  The widespread availability of Internet access and delivery reduces the importance of users having to go to one physical location to access needed government information resources.

Purdue Libraries have significant tangible format collections of government information resources in areas such as agronomy, agricultural economics, American political history, aerospace science, criminal justice, demographics, ecology, energy, engineering, environmental science, geology, geologic maps, patents, science policy, and trademarks.  The Wilmeth Active Learning Center (WALC) Library has served as a U.S. Patent and Trademarks Depository Information Center since 1991.

The Libraries U.S. Government Documents collection development philosophy will strive to maintain its approximate depository selection rate of 84% while looking to increase holdings in emerging areas of university research such as homeland security, medical sciences, and nanotechnology.  Documents Department and Metadata Services Department personnel will strive to increase the quality of bibliographic control and discovery capabilities so users have timely and effective access to government information resources regardless of their format.

The Government Documents Collection seeks to select, collect, or provide access to information resources from the following federal agencies and departments along with offices within these agencies.  These agencies are listed in Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc) classification order.  Cabinet rank departments will also include the names of relevant organizations within those departments whose information resources Purdue Libraries strives to select or collect.  This list is exhaustive but not necessarily comprehensive.

U.S. Department of Agriculture-Corporate publications, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Forest Service, National Agricultural Library, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, Foreign Agricultural Service, Rural Utilities Service, Agricultural Research Service, Agricultural Marketing Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Economic Research Service, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, Food and Nutrition Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Farm Service Agency, and Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration.

National Archives and Records Administration-Corporate publications, Office of the Federal Register.

U.S. Department of Commerce-Corporate publications, Office of the Inspector General, Census Bureau, National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service, National Climactic Data Center, National Maritime Fisheries Service, National Ocean Service, Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, International Trade Administration, and Bureau of Industry and Security.

Federal Communications CommissionCorporate publications

U.S. Civil Rights CommissionCorporate publications

U.S. Department of Defense-Corporate publications, Office of the Inspector General, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, National Defense University, Defense Technical Information Center, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Defense Science Board, Department of the Army, U.S. Army War College, Army Corps of Engineers, Army Command and General Staff College, Center for Military History, Department of the Navy, U.S. Naval War College, U.S. Marine Corps, Naval Historical Center, Department of the Air Force, and Air University.

U.S. Department of Energy-Corporate publications, Office of the Inspector General, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Energy Information Administration, national laboratory publications e.g. Argonne National Laboratory, and National Renewable Energy Laboratory

U.S. Department of Education-Corporate publications, Office of the Inspector General, National Center for Educational Statistics, and Educational Research and Improvement Office 

Environmental Protection Agency-Corporate publications, Office of the Inspector General, Water Office, Air and Radiation Office, Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances, Radiation and Indoor Air Office, and Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office.

Farm Credit Administration

Federal Reserve Board

Federal Trade Commission

Government Accountability Office-Corporate publications, congressional testimony, and reports.

Government Printing Office-Corporate publications and Superintendent of Documents

General Services Administration

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Corporate publications, Office of Inspector General, Aging Administration, Indian Health Service, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Library of Medicine, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Food and Drug Administration, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, National Institute of Mental Health, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Administration for Children and Families.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-Corporate publications, Office of Inspector General, and Federal Housing Administration

U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Corporate publications, Office of Inspector General, Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate, Border and Transportation Security Directorate, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transportation Security Administration, Federal Emergency Management Administration, Federal Insurance Administration, U.S. Fire Administration, Office for Domestic Preparedness, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

U.S. Department of the Interior-Corporate publications, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Reclamation Bureau, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,  Bureau of Land Management, and Minerals Management Service, and Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation, and Enforcement.

International Trade CommissionCorporate publications

U.S. Department of Justice-Corporate publications, Office of the Inspector General, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Institute of Corrections, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Justice Assistance, National Institute of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and Office for Victims of Crime

U.S. Courts System-Corporate publications, U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of International Trade, Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, U.S. Tax Court, and Federal Judicial Center.

U.S. Department of Labor-Corporate publications, Office of Inspector General, Bureau of Labor Statistics, International Labor Affairs Bureau, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Employment Standards Administration, Women’s Bureau, and Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Library of Congress-Corporate publications, Copyright Office, Congressional Research Service, and Library Services (Cataloging Distribution Service Division)

National Labor Relations Board

Merit Systems Protection Board

National Aeronautics and Space Administration-Corporate publications, space center publications e.g. Goddard Space Flight Center

National Capital Planning Commission

National Credit Union Administration

National Endowment for the Arts

National Endowment for the Humanities

Institute for Museum and Library Services

National Mediation Board

National Science Foundation Corporate publications

U.S. Postal Service

Peace Corps

Office of Personnel Management

President of the United States-Corporate publications and commission reports

Executive Office of the President-Office of Management and Budget, Central Intelligence Agency, President’s Council of Economic Advisors, United States Trade Representative, Council on Environmental Quality, Science and Technology Policy Office, and Office of National Drug Control Policy

Railroad Retirement Board

U.S. Department of State-Corporate publications, Office of Inspector General, Historian’s Office, Visa Office, assorted bureaus grouped by global regions, U.S. Agency for International Development..

Small Business Administration

Securities and Exchange Commission

Smithsonian Institution

Social Security Administration

U.S. Department of the Treasury-Corporate publications, Comptroller of the Currency, Internal Revenue Service, Financial Management Service, Public Debt Bureau, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Bureau, Office of Inspector General, and Office of Thrift Supervision.

U.S. Department of Transportation-Corporate publications, Office of Inspector General, National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Transit Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Maritime Administration, and Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-Corporate publications and Office of Inspector General

U.S. Congress-House and Senate corporate publications, congressional house journals, Congressional Record proceedings, bills, resolutions, and congressional committee hearings, reports, and documents.

Independent Agencies-Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, Federal Election Commission, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, United States Holocaust Memorial Council, National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, U.S. Institute of Peace, and U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Congressional Committees-House, Senate, and Joint committees on Agriculture, Appropriations, Armed Services, Banking/Financial Services, Budget, Energy, Commerce, and Natural Resources, Economics, Education/Workforce, Environment/Public Works, Ethics, Finance, Government Reform/Management, Homeland Security, Indian Affairs, Intelligence, Judiciary, Science, Small Business, Taxation/Ways and Means, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Veterans Affairs

Congressional Budget Office-Corporate publications, congressional bill cost estimates

The Government Information Librarian also strives to purchase works on  government agencies and pertinent bibliographic finding aids as a limited  monographic budget permits.  Regular attempts are made to select freely available government databases, including Geographic Information System (GIS) resources for cataloging.  Regular attempts are also made to acquire commercially produced government information resources through Information Access requests.  We also purchase works on the history of government agencies and their policymaking programs.

Indiana State Documents-Purdue has been a depository for Indiana state documents since 1974.  This program has been administered by the Indiana State Library who distributes tangible format versions of these publications to Purdue and other Indiana state depository libraries.  Tangible format versions of these publications are generally found in the following libraries:  HSSE and WALC.  Recent years have seen the large-scale migration of these resources to the Internet.  The lack of widespread OCLC records for these Indiana state documents makes cataloging them and providing effective access problematic.  Electronic links to online versions of Indiana documents in the Libraries catalog are provided as time permits and if they are available in OCLC.  The Libraries makes particular effort to collect and purchase Indiana state legal and regulatory information resources to supplement its federal legal and regulatory collections.

The Government Documents collection makes no effort to catalog publications from other state governments.  Access to these resources is provided electronically via these state agencies and some commercially purchased databases.

Local Government-The Libraries provide access to electronic format government information resources from West Lafayette and Lafayette city governments and from Tippecanoe County Government.  This area of governmental activity has also seen a significant migration of its information resources to the Internet.  Links to Indiana local government websites are provided at  Attempts to acquire local government information resources outside of Tippecanoe County, IN are rare.  The widespread lack of OCLC records for these documents makes providing effective bibliographic access problematic.

Foreign Government Resources-The Internet’s globalizing nature and the increasingly international and interdisciplinary nature of academic research and global public policy trends makes more effectual access to foreign government resources imperative.  Purdue Libraries have historically purchased some tangible format foreign government publications such as annual yearbooks and statistical abstracts from countries such as Australia, Great Britain, and Israel.

The Government Information Librarian currently makes active efforts to identify and provide cataloging information for electronic government information resources from three countries:  Australia, Canada, and Great Britain.  All three of these countries produce high-quality government information resources that are in English, have reasonably stable URLs, and good OCLC Worldcat records.  Providing users access to these resources enables them to understand how these national governments are dealing with transnational public policy issues such as agriculture, avian influenza, criminal justice, demographics, environmental policy, foreign policy, homeland security, immigration, military policy, terrorism, and other subjects.  This librarian is also willing to help users find government information from other foreign national governments.

International Government Organizations-Purdue Libraries have substantive collections of international government organization (IGO) resources.  The Libraries have significant paper collections from agencies such as the United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization, International Atomic Energy Agency, International Monetary Fund, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and World Bank. Paper copies of these IGO publications are in libraries such as HSSE and WALC.  The Government Information Librarian makes regular efforts to identify and provide cataloging information for electronic records produced by these and other IGO’s on interdisciplinary public policy issues such as those described in the foreign government resources section.  The increasing need for international governmental cooperation on public policy issues such as those already described means that academic research libraries such as Purdue University Libraries should take all measures necessary to provide their users with effective access to these resources.

The Purdue Libraries Government Documents Department is committed to providing its users with effective access to a world class variety of government information resources through the Libraries catalog, the Government Documents Department website and through high quality reference and referral services. The Department is open to constructive suggestions on government information resources to select or purchase from Libraries faculty, students, and interested users.

Respectfully submitted,

Bert Chapman

Government Information, History, Political Science, & Sociology Librarian and  Professor of Library Science

April 2006, revised 2007, 2009, 2017, 2018, and 2021.