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Government Publications at Alexander Library

An overview and collection map for the government publications collections in Alexander Library.

What is included in the collection?

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.

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 any format including print, microform, DVD, CD-ROM, and 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 Library also obtains government publications through subscriptions and other purchases, gifts, and mailing lists. Many specialized microform and online resources supplement those that are received 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, but also retains all U.S. Congressional and New Jersey Legislative materials regardless of topic. Materials of a scientific or technical nature are generally located at the Library of Science and Medicine.

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 QuickSearch. If a title appears in QuickSearch 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 Government Documents Reference 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). Beginning with the early 1940s 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 US Government Documents Reference GP 3.8. For later years, consult the CGP which covers 1976 to the present.
  • CIS Index and Abstracts, 1970+ (ALEXANDER Government Documents Reference 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. and govinfo are also helpful sites.
  • American Statistics Index, 1974+ (ALEXANDER Government Documents Reference Z7554.U5A46) 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 covering 1974-2015. A companion reference tool, the Statistical Reference Index, is excellent for statistics of state governments. Alexander has a complete collection of SRI in microfiche covering 1980-2017. ASI non-depository microfiche and SRI microfiche are in putty colored cabinets in the Government Documents Reference area.

Many other specialized indexes are available to access our federal collections. Examples include the American Foreign Policy & Treaty Index, US Declassified Documents Online, CIS Congressional Committee Prints Index, 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.

What about accessing international documents?

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. See the United Nations and United Nations Organizations research guide for Model UN and other United Nations research. 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 Government Documents Reference 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 QuickSearch located in the Government Documents collection with a Library of Congress number. 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?

Since August 2002, federal depository documents have been routinely included in QuickSearch, 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.

  • 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 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. Please ask for assistance before concluding that Alexander Library does not own a particular item!

How do I locate government journals?

Most government journals appear in QuickSearch. 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 QuickSearch 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 QuickSearch. The online PAIS International and Archive indexes government journals from a variety of jurisdictions. A list of other databases for Government Resources is available on the Libraries website.

For additional assistance, please ask at the reference desk.

Can government publications be checked out?

Alexander Library's Government Publications collection has open stacks which users are welcome to browse. Some materials may be shelved in the Government Documents Reference collection 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, and materials located in the Government Documents Reference collections.

What about publications of the state of New Jersey?

All of Alexander Library's New Jersey state publications are fully cataloged and display in QuickSearch. These items are generally located in the NJ Government Documents collection located in stacks 76-86. An effective method of searching QuickSearch 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.

How can I identify what older NJ documents were printed?

Various tools exist to help identify older New Jersey state publications. Among sources which may be consulted are:

  • Hasse, Index of Economic Materials in Documents of the States… New Jersey 1789-1904. (ALEXANDER Government Documents Reference HC107.N5 H37)
  • Lucas, Bibliography of Official New Jersey Reports 1905-1945. (ALEXANDER Government Documents Reference Z1223.5.N5L8)
  • Bibliography of Official New Jersey Reports 1945-1960. (ALEXANDER Government Documents Reference Z1223.5.N55L8 1961)
  • Checklist of Official New Jersey Publications, 1965-1995 (ALEXANDER Government Documents Reference Z1223.5.N55C45)
  • Monthly Checklist of State Publications, 1920-1994 (ALEXANDER US Government Documents LC 30.9)
  • Index of All Reports Issued by Bureaus of Labor Statistics Prior to March 1, 1902 (ALEXANDER US Government Documents Reference L 2.34)
  • Statistical Reference Index (ALEXANDER Government Documents Reference 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 stacks 82-86 of the government documents collections. These include West's New Jersey Digest, 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 also included.

Recent legislative bills and other legal resources may also be found online via Westlaw, the State Legislature website, or through the Law guide maintained by the Rutgers Law Library. See also the guide for New Jersey State and Local Governments.


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