A government publication or document is any item issued by or under the auspices of a government agency, whether U.S. federal or state, foreign national, or international government body. The collections at Alexander Library include all of these jurisdictions.
A depository library receives materials from a government agency in exchange for certain services, such as providing government information to the public. Materials may be in print, microform, DVD, CD-ROM, or online. Alexander Library has been a federal depository since 1907, but has acquired many items which predate its status as a land-grant depository. The library is also a depository for the State of New Jersey and was a depository for the State of New York until 2009.
Depository status does not guarantee receipt of all materials. Alexander obtains government publications through subscriptions and other purchases, gifts, and mailing lists. Many specialized microform and online resources supplement those that are received as under depository agreements.
Alexander Library keeps primarily those documents which are related to the social sciences and humanities. Although materials of a scientific or technical nature are generally located at the Library of Science and Medicine, all U.S. Congressional and New Jersey Legislative materials are retained by Alexander Library regardless of topic.
Searching for federal information usually begins with print or online indexes which analyze documents in much greater detail than our online catalogs. Relatively few of Alexander's federal government publications prior to August 2002 are in the Library Catalog. If a title appears in the Library Catalog for another Rutgers library but not for Alexander, it is nevertheless likely that Alexander Library owns a copy (excluding the science and technical titles that are sent to the Library of Science & Medicine). Many indexes and abstracts that facilitate access to our collections are shelved in the DOCUSR and DOCREF collections, and a separate card catalog is maintained for older government publications. Librarians at the Reference Desk can help you select the tools best suited to your research.
Some basic tools include:
Many other specialized indexes are available to access our federal collections. Examples include the American Foreign Policy & Treaty Index, Declassified Documents Reference System, Index to U.S. Congressional Committee Prints, and Post World War II Foreign Policy Planning to name just a few. For additional indexes and databases visit the Federal Government research guide.
Federal documents are arranged on the shelves by the Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs, for short) classification system supplied by the government and used in numerous reference tools. It is an alpha-numeric sequence, with a "US" or "DOCUS" preceding each call number, e.g. US AA 1.2:T 25 or DOCUS AC 1.21:980. Unlike Library of Congress class numbers, the number after the period in DOCUS AC 1.21:980 is filed as whole number rather than as a decimal. Alexander's local classification system for older state, foreign, and international materials is a modification of the SuDocs system.
Alexander Library is rich in materials from international governmental organizations (IGOs). Most IGOs publish their own extensive indexes or catalogs which may be used for subject access. AccessUN and UNBISNET are especially useful for Model UN research (see separate guide). The OECD iLibrary and UNdata are two other important online titles. Other examples include the UNESCO List of Documents and Publications; Documentos Oficiales for the Organization of American States; and for British materials, the guide for British Government Publications at Alexander Library.
The Index to International Statistics (ALEXANDER DOCREF Index Table 2) assists in subject searches for statistics published by most IGOs. Online indexes such as PAIS International and Archive and catalogs such as WorldCat are also useful for IGO research.
Periodicals of most IGOs and many serials may now be found in the Library Catalog with a Library of Congress number preceded by DOC as the sub-location. These are located beginning in STACK 1 in the Government Publications area on the main floor. Except for materials of the World Bank which are fully cataloged, most pre-2000 IGO monographs and serials have yet to receive full cataloging. To locate these materials, search the Government Publications Card Catalog under the name of the agency, e.g. UNESCO, or ILO, and then under the title of the monograph or the series title of an item within a series. A local classification system is used; call numbers are prefaced with INT and filed in Aisle 1 beyond the materials with LC call numbers. Older UN sales publications are checked in and filed by the sales number. See the collection map for help in locating material.
Since August 2002, federal depository documents have been routinely included in the Library Catalog, and many records provide links to full text documents. Yet, most older documents have only local cataloging and appear in the separate Government Publications Card Catalog. No subject or title access is provided in this catalog; it is basically an agency file. Cards in the catalog are filed under the name of the agency which issued the publication, e.g.
Words such as "Office of," "Bureau of," "Department of" are disregarded in filing the agency name. One-time publications, called monographs, are entered under agency and then by unique title; consecutively issued materials (i.e., series) are often recorded by the series' overall titles only. If you do not know the series within which a publication has been issued, it may be necessary to return to whatever index you used or to do a search in WorldCat. Ask for assistance at the Reference Desk before concluding that Alexander Library does not own a particular item!
Most government journals appear in the Library Catalog. Older titles may appear only under the issuing agency in the Government Publications card catalog. Journals are generally assigned class/call numbers and shelved in the Government Publications stack area. Classification numbers may be found in the Library Catalog or the card catalog.
To locate journal articles on a specific subject, a variety of indexes are available. For articles in federal government journals, try the Index to U.S. Government Periodicals 1970-1987; for 1988 to date consult the Library Catalog. The online PAIS International and Archive indexes government journals from a variety of jurisdictions, while recent issues of United Nations journals and newsletters are indexed by AccessUN. For additional indexes and databases visit the Government Publications section of the Indexes and Databases pages.
For additional assistance, please ask at the reference desk.
Alexander Library's Government Publications collection has open stacks which users are welcome to browse. Some materials may be shelved in DOCREF, on Reserve, or may already be checked out. Others may be in a microform collection accessible only through specialized indexes and not individually listed in any card or online catalog. Many materials circulate to qualified borrowers or are available through interlibrary loan. Exceptions include journals, census materials, legal materials, looseleaf, preservation boxes, DOCUSR, and DOCREF.
All of Alexander Library's New Jersey state publications are fully cataloged and display in the Library Catalog. These items have a DOCNJ sub-location and are located in stacks 72-78. An effective method of searching the Library Catalog for a New Jersey government publication on a given topic is to search for "Jersey" along with an appropriate keyword.
State of New Jersey publications prior to 1850 are generally located in the Library's Department of Special Collections and University Archives on the Basement (B) level of Alexander Library.
Various tools exist to help identify older New Jersey state publications. Among sources which may be consulted are:
A separate guide is available for New Jersey State and Local Governments.
Legal materials for New Jersey are filed in the DOCLNJ sub-location in stacks 78-81 of the documents collections. These include West's New Jersey Digest, New Jersey Statutes Annotated, New Jersey Administrative Code, New Jersey Reports, New Jersey Superior Court Reports, Laws of New Jersey, School Law Decisions, the Legislative Index, and other sources. New Jersey bills are filed in stacks 80-81.
Recent legislative bills and other legal resources may also be found online via WestlawNext, the State Legislature website, or through the Law guide maintained by the Newark Law Library. See also the guide for New Jersey State and Local Governments.