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Government Information Sources: About Gov Info

Guide to finding, using, and citing government information at the federal, state, and local levels

What is government information?

What is a government publication?

'Government publication' as used in this chapter, means informational matter which is published as an individual document at Government expense, or as required by law. Source: 44 USC 1901

What governments do government publications come from?

How can one recognize a government publication at Lovejoy Library?

Publisher or printer Government Printing Office or another federal government agency Illinois government agency
URL .gov, .mil, etc.,,,, etc.
Call number Federal publications are classed Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs), Library of Congress (LC), or are unclassed. State publications are classed Library of Congress (LC) or are unclassed.
Location US Document Collection (SuDocs)
US Document Collection Index (SuDocs or LC)
US Document Electronic (SuDocs or LC)
US Document Microfiche (SuDocs)
Map Collection (LC or unclassed)
Book Collection (LC)
as well as other collections
Illinois Documents (unclassed)
Book Collection (LC)
as well as other collections
Stamp Usually states "...Prop. U.S. Gov't ...". Beginning 2010, states "...Illinois Documents...".


Are all Federal documents in the library catalog?

No. We have classed most of our new incoming Federal documents using the Library of Congress classification system since about 2003. All of the LC classed documents should be in our catalog.

Before 2003, we used SuDocs only. Only about 50% of those documents are in the catalog.

Superintendent of Documents Call Numbers

How does one tell whether a call number is a SuDocs or an LC call number?

Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) call numbers have a colon, Library of Congress (LC) call numbers do not. Examples:

Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) Library of Congress (LC)
D 301.2:R 73 D306 .B32
AE 1.6:W19/1917-21 AE1 .K57 1994
L 13.11:143/996 L13.N49 W4


Four things you need to know to find a SuDocs call number on the shelf

  1. The number after the point is a whole number, not a decimal. Thus, the following call numbers would be shelved in this order:
  2. If everything is identical up to a certain punctuation mark, years come before letters and letters come before numbers. (Up until 2000, the initial "1" of the year was omitted.) Thus, the following call numbers would be shelved in this order:
    A 1.35:993 (N.B. 993 is a year)
    A 1.35:2002
    A 1.35:R 42
    A 1.35:R 42/995 (N.B. 995 is a year)
    A 1.35:R 42/2
    A 1.35:321

    Another example:

    EP 1.23:998 (N.B. 998 is a year)
    EP 1.23:2003
    EP 1.23:A 62
    EP 1.23:91-44
    EP 1.23:600/998-103 (N.B. 998 is a year)
    EP 1.23:600/R-98-23
  3. In addition to the previous rule, nothing comes before something, so the shelving order is: nothing, years, letters, numbers.
    C 3.186:...
    C 3.186/2:...
    C 3.186/7:...
    C 3.186/7-3:...
    C 3.186/9:...
    EP 1.23:...
    EP 1.23/A:...
    EP 1.23/A-2:...
    EP 1.23/2:...
    EP 1.23/2-2:...
  4. Among the congressional hearings (Y4s), the shelving order after the colon is: Cutter numbers, congress numbers, letters such as h.hrg., s.prt. that are followed by a congress number.
    Y4.En2:W36 (Cutter number)
    Y4.En2:95/45 (congress)
    Y4.En2:s. hrg. 99-95 (letters followed by a congress number)
    Y4.En2:s. prt. 98-13 (letters followed by a congress number)

Thanks to Michigan State University Libraries for their SuDocs Basics.

Check out the tutorial on An Introduction to Government Information Sources, Part 3: How do SuDoc Numbers Work? from from Southeastern Louisiana University.