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How do I Find Government Information?: Find in the Library

A Guide for Locating and Accessing Government Documents and Web Resources

How to Find Gov Docs in Kraemer Family Library

The government documents collection in Kraemer Family Library is in a separate collection located on the second floor near the University Center entrance. You can search the state and federal documents collections in the online catalog just as you would search for any item in the library. Please Note: Some pre-2007 documents do not have catalog records.

It is important to note that government documents call numbers look different from other library call numbers. This page includes explanations on how to read and use government documents call numbers. 

Government documents are also available through Prospector and Interlibrary Loan if the item you're looking for isn't in our collection. If you need assistance of any kind with the government documents collection, contact the Research Assistance desk or the Government Documents Coordinator.

Please do not re-shelve documents you have looked at.  Place them in the return baskets.  If you have checked out a document, return it to the Circulation desk or to any of the Library's book returns.

Using the Online Catalog

From the Advanced Catalog Search, you can search by title, author, or subject.

A red circle highlights the drop down menu listing searchable fields from the catalog search page.

To search just the government documents collection, you will want to use the options under "Add Limits" to limit your search by location. You can use the CTRL key to select more than one option or simply click on either "Government Documents" or "Colorado Documents."

Arrows point to the Location limiter and the two government document location types.

To search by call number, select the "Number" search option from the Advanced Search page and the number type "Government Documents Number."

A red circle highlights the fifth search option down while a red arrow highlights the last number type radial button.

Reading and Using SuDoc Numbers

The Superintendent of Documents Classification system was created by the Government Publishing Office (GPO) to organize a large and rapidly growing mass of government publications. It relies primarily on the origin of the item to organize government documents collections. This system has some unique features, so let's break down the elements of a SuDocs Number. Let's use this as an example:

The part of the call number before the colon is called the "Stem."

The first element of the stem represents the issuing agency. It is between one and four letters long. In this case, the letter is D, which indicates that the Defense Department issued this document. 

The number after the alphabetic agency symbol before the stop indicates the subunit of the issuing agency. Our example is D 214, which is the Marine Corps. 

The number after the stop and before the colon indicates the type of document. The original four form designators are:

.1 - Annual Reports

.2 - General Publications

.3 - Bulletins

.4 - Circulars

Our call number begins D 214.2, so we know the item is a general publication.

Note: In SuDocs Numbers, the periods between numbers are not decimal points. They are considered stops and numbers on both sides of the period are read as whole numbers. For example, D 214.2 comes before D 214.13.

The part of the call number after the colon is called the book number or the suffix. Book numbers describe in greater detail what the item is. In the case of our example, D 71 comes from the subject indicated by the title of the item.

For more information on constructing and reading the suffix of a SuDocs call number, check out the video below from the University of Minnesota Libraries. The first half of the video also includes a more in-depth look at SuDocs stems.

Reading and Using Colorado Document Numbers

Colorado State Document Numbers are very similar to SuDocs Numbers. Let's use this item as an example:

First, we want to concentrate on the part of the call number before the period with State Document numbers. This part of the call number identifies the issuing agency. In our example, we have "HED6/50" which indicates the Colorado Department of Higher Education Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.

Around the period, numbers are read as whole numbers not decimals. Therefore a call number beginning HED6/50.2... comes before one beginning HED6/50.28... 

After the next stop character, a slash, elements with letters go before elements with numbers. Therefore a call number beginning HED6/50.2/W84... comes before one beginning HED6/50.2/1978...

After the next slash, publication numbers are filed in sequence and dates are ordered chronologically. Numbers go before dates. Therefore a call number beginning HED6/50.2/W84/2008... comes after a call number beginning HED6/50.2/W84/pt1/2007...

Sometimes, words come after the publication number or date element of the call number. Nothing always comes before something, so an item with the call number HED6/50.2/W84/2008/INTERNET would come after the call number HED6/50.2/W84/2008.