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Research Guides

Foreign government information

A guide to major print and electronic foreign government information prepared by Sam-chin Li, University of Toronto Libraries.

Tips for searching government publications in the catalogue

Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada

The Library has a large print collection of government publications. This makes the library catalogue a useful starting point. 

The following tips may make your searching easier:

 

1)  Search government bodies and agencies as authors.

Keyword author searches often work best. Since the jurisdiction (eg. Canada; United States; Ontario) is usually added to the name, this can be a very useful keyword.

For example, the author keyword search "Great Britain Foreign" brings up the following in the author list to the left:

  • Great Britain. Foreign Office
  • Great Britain. Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • ... and more.

Note that over time government bodies may change name, split apart, recombine or go out of existence.

 

2)  For subject searches, use keywords (anywords).

Much of the older and foreign material in particular has no formal subject headings. You may need to first search by subject in indexes, publication catalogues, secondary sources, etc. in order to find precise titles that can then be searched in the catalogue.

 

3)  Some resources are included in large sets.

Many print resources are NOT listed individually in the catalogue, but are instead part of large sets.

Quick example: you cannot search individual statues by name (e.g. Sales of Goods Act of 1979) because they are all part of the large Statutes of Great Britain set.

If you do not find something in the catalogue, don't assume we don't have it - please ask library staff for assistance.

Many of the large sets (e.g. Parliamentary Papers) are identified in this guide and other government publications guides.

Finding government publications on the shelf (Decoding CODOC)

Robarts Library has a sizeable Government Publications Collection on its 5th floor. It's organized according to a call number system called CODOC. In order to find a publication on the shelf, you have to decode the CODOC number (see document below) as it appears in the catalogue: 

UK1..CB..4077C71....ENG

... and turn it into the version that appears on the book label, in this case:

UK1
CB40
-77C71

See Decoding CODOC below for more details.

How CODOC works