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Research Guides

Government publications: Where to start

United States documents

Internet access:

Most U.S. government publications held by the Library - hundreds of thousands of items - cannot be searched through the Library catalogue. These are held in a large microform set and must first be searched through U.S. government publication catalogues before they can be located in the Library collection. Since the mid-1990s, many are also available on the internet.

When to search in the Library catalogue:

  • for items published before the mid-1950s (when the microform set began)
  • for significant titles (if in doubt, it never hurts to search).

Where to find the microform set:

  • 1981-2008: Government Publications collection, 5th floor, Robarts
  • mid-1950s-1980: Government Publications storage; ask at Reference desk, 4th floor, Robarts, for retrieval.

The information you need to access the set:

  • You need either a MoCat number or Sudoc number, available from the U.S. government publications catalogues.
  • 1991+ SuDoc number and year (eg. Y 4.F 76/1:110-126)
  • 1981-1990: MoCat (Monthly catalog) number in the form 89-01234 or gp 89-01234
  • mid-1950s-1980: Mocat number in the form 79-01234, or 1234 plus the year.

Where to find the U.S. government publications catalogue:

  • Depending on the year, you can use the electronic version (1976+ ) or the paper version; links and more information here
U.S. Congressional Serial Set, 1817 - 1980
  • Contains Congressional reports and documents

FDsys: Federal Digital System  

  • 1994+. Some older documents
  • US Government Printing Office's official website for online government information
  • Congress (bills, hearings, laws, etc.).
  • Presidential documents
  • Federal Register
  • GAO reports
  • Supreme Court decisions
  • Education Reports from ERIC (1995-2004)

ProQuest Congressional

  • U.S Serial Set Digital Collection (1789-2014)
  • Congressional Hearings Parts A-G (1821-2014)
  • Congressional Research Service Reports and Prints Parts A-F (1830-2014)
  •  Congressional Record Parts A-C (1789-2005)

Other relevant guides