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Government Information: Searching for Government Documnets

Various links to guides, websites, and other points of informational interest on federal, state and local government information.

Search Strategy

Sears and Moody identified various search strategies in their book, Using government information sources : electronic and print  (Ref.015.73 Se1u3) 

Known Item Search: Useful when you know the title of the item you are seeking, for example Hearing on Appalachia : poverty alleviation strategies : hearing before the Select Committee on Hunger

Subject searches are similar in approach whether searching for government information or other library resources.  Bibliographies, guides, indexes, and search engines are useful.  There are a variety of special government publication indexes and locators.

Agency Search: Most kinds of government information are not cited by the author but by the agency responsible for issuing them.  One strategy is to identify the government agency responsible for publishing the information you want.  For instance if you wanted a crop report you could go to the USDA website.

Statistical Search: The government issues a huge amount of data and if you're looking for numbers, a government source is frequently available.  In a statistical search you will need to define in detail what you need--do you want crime data by race or other demographic characteristics?  Do you need statistics at the city or national level?

Special techniques searches include a number of complex, multistep search strategies employed when you want to locate a special topic or type of material such as material at the National Archives, historical information, legislative histories, regulations, grants, treaties, or patents.


GovSpeak: A Guide to U.S. Government Acronyms & Abbreviations

What's New?

1964 Civil Rights Act now avaialbe on FDSYS

With the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) is making the official, digital version of the law available on the agency’s Federal Digital System (FDsys). The Civil Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964, prohibited segregation and discrimination in schools, public places and activities, and employment practices.

Useful Internet Sites

Here are just a few of the many Internet sites that index government documents:

Congress.Gov is the official website for U.S. federal legislative information. The site provides access to accurate, timely, and complete legislative information for Members of Congress, legislative agencies, and the public. It is presented by the Library of Congress (LOC) using data from the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, the Government Printing Office, Congressional Budget Office, and the LOC's Congressional Research Service.