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Government Documents


The Colgate University Libraries currently receive publications issued by the U.S. federal government. We have, in the past, purchased publications issued by the United Nations.



United States Federal Government Documents

The Federal Depository Library Program originated in the early 1800s to distribute information collected and published by the U.S. government. Colgate University has been a depository of U.S. documents since 1902. We currently receive approximately 40 percent of the publications distributed by the government. We have a particularly strong collection of documents from the United States Congress, the Office of the President, Bureau of the Census, and from the Interior (including the National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey) and State Departments. Our collection contains documents in paper, on microfiche, CD, DVD, and online. Documents of interest in our collection include the decennial censuses (dating from 1790), hearings and reports from congressional committees, the Congressional Record, the Serial Set, laws, and the opinions of the Supreme Court.

As a congressionally designated depository, public access to the government documents collections is guaranteed by public law. (Title 44 United States Code). Members of the public have access to all federal depository collections in Case and Cooley Libraries, regardless of format or location, including LASR and Special Collections. Anyone may use the public access computers in Case Library to access government information available online. Please see the Government Documents Access and Public Service Policy for more information about access and services for the public.


Documents have their own call number system, the Superintendent of Documents Classification System, which was developed between 1895 and 1903. The system groups together publications of departments, bureaus, and agencies.


To locate U.S. documents in our collections published after June 1976 (and some older documents), search our online catalog.  Many documents series are split between paper and microfiche. Click here to see a brief guide to these splits.


To locate other federal documents, use the finding tools available online and in the Documents Reference Collection in Case Library. The following titles may be particularly useful:

For more help searching for government information, use our Guide to U.S. Government Information and/or ask at the Reference Desk.


Collection Management

Materials distributed through the federal depository library program are U.S. government property. Colgate University is required by law to retain federal documents for five years. After that time, if deemed appropriate for our collection, we may weed materials. Weeded materials must be made available to other depository libraries, public libraries, and other educational institutions. More information is available in our Government Documents Collection Management Policy


United Nations Documents

Colgate owns the United Nation Treaty Series (volumes 1--1503, 1946--1988), which is stored in LASR. We have, over the years, purchased selected series of documents from the United Nations, including official records from the General Assembly, Economic & Social Council, and Security Councils. Some of these documents have been cataloged, but a number of them have not.

The Libraries also purchase individual titles about social questions, disarmament, demography, human rights, and international statistics. These materials are shelved as part of the main book collections (Case Library second and fourth floors). To locate these titles, search the online catalog.


To identify UN documents that are not in our collections or to identify specific documents in the official records, see our Subject Guide to the UN





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