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. Alexander's collection includes all of these jurisdictions.
What is a depository library?
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 for the State of New York.
Depository status does not, however, 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.
What is the scope of the collections at Alexander Library?
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 N.J. Legislative materials are retained by Alexander Library regardless of topic.
How do I begin a search for Federal information?
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 LSM). 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:
Catalog of United States Government Publications (CGP). This is the primary tool for locating publications of executive departments, commissions, etc. from 1976 to the present. The CGP is the successor to the print title, Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications (MoCat).
Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications (MoCat). MoCat indicates by the presence of a black dot (•) or "Item Number" which material is depository versus materials that may be in the library's "non-depository" collections. MoCat is available in print from 1895-1995 at ALEXANDER DOCUSR GP 3.8. For later years, consult the CGP which covers 1976 to the present.
CIS Index and Abstracts, 1970+ (ALEXANDER DOCREF Index Table 1) references a wealth of Congressional source material--hearings, committee prints, reports, law summaries. Most of this material is available at Alexander. A separate guide for Congressional Research is available. THOMAS and FDSys, the Federal Digital System are also helpful sites.
American Statistics Index, 1974+ (ALEXANDER DOCREF Index Table 2) covers federal government statistics. Alexander Library receives depository copies of much of the material; a companion ASI microfiche collection is available for the non- depository component. A companion reference tool, the Statistical Reference Index, is excellent for statistics of state governments. Alexander has a complete collection of SRI in microfiche. ASI non-depository microfiche and SRI microfiche are in putty colored cabinets in the DOCREF area.
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.
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 21 rather than as a decimal. Alexander's local classification system for older state, foreign, and international materials is a modification of the SuDocs system.
What about accessing international documents?
Alexander is rich in materials from international governmental organizations (IGOs). Most IGOs publish their own extensive indexes or catalogs which may be used to obtain subject access. The online 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.
How can I verify that Alexander Library owns a particular document?
Beginning August 2002, federal depository documents display in the Library Catalog, and many records provide links to the full text of 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.
- Canada. Foreign Affairs Ministry.
- International Monetary Fund.
- New York. Comptroller's Office.
- U.S. Congress. Senate. Foreign Relations Committee.
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 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 (OCLC) Ask for assistance at the Reference Desk before concluding that Alexander Library does not own a particular item!
How do I locate government journals?
Most government journals appear in the Library Catalog. A few old titles may appear only under the issuing agency in the Government Publications card catalog. Current issues of journals are shelved in DOCPER STACK 89 in the government publications collection. Older issues are bound and classified in the Government Publications stack area. Classification numbers for the bound volumes may be found in the Library Catalog or on the label under the current issues.
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 assistance, please ask at the reference desk.
Do government publications circulate?
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 be in circulation. Others may be in a microform collection and 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.
What about publications of the state of New Jersey?
All New Jersey state publications are fully cataloged and display in the Library Catalog. These items have a DOCNJ prefix 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 "Jersey" AND a keyword in "Words Anywhere."
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.
How can I identify what older NJ documents were printed?
Various tools exist to help identify older state publications. Among sources which may be consulted are:
- Hasse, Index of Economic Materials in Documents of the States… New Jersey 1789-1904. (ALEXANDER DOCREF HC107.N5 H37)
- Lucas, Bibliography of Official New Jersey Reports 1905-1945. (ALEXANDER DOCREF Z1223.5.N5L8)
- Bibliography of Official New Jersey Reports 1945-1960. (ALEXANDER DOCREF Z1223.5.N55L8 1961)
- Checklist of Official New Jersey Publications, 1965-1995 (ALEXANDER DOCREF Z1223.5.N55C45)
- Monthly Checklist of State Publications, 1920-1994 (ALEXANDER DOCUS LC 30.9)
- Index of All Reports Issued by Bureaus of Labor Statistics Prior to March 1, 1902 (ALEXANDER DOCUSR L 2.34)
- Statistical Reference Index (ALEXANDER DOCREF Index Table 2)
A separate guide is available for New Jersey State and Local Governments.
Where are legal materials for NJ kept?
Legal materials for New Jersey are filed in DOCLNJ in stacks 78-81. 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 Westlaw Campus Research, 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.