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Federal Government Information: Home

Material available through the three branches of government.

Federal Depository Library Program

As part of the Federal Depository Library Program, Schaffer Library is one of approximately 1200 libraries throughout the country making U.S. government publications available to the public both in print and electronicallly.

As of 2015 the Government Printing Office (GPO) is now to be known as the Government Publishing Office (GPO).

Introduction

Welcome to the Research Guide on Federal Government Information.  Union is a selective Depository Library. one of several in the Capital District.  As such, government information, regardless of form or format and which is disseminated or distrubuted by the U.S. Government Printing Office (USGPO) is available much of which can be circulated.  From 1976 to the present materials received by the USGPO can be found via Marcive Index. Historical government information (pre-1976) can be located using a variety of paper finding aids available in the Reference collection. 

Some but not all of our documents collection is represented in our catalog so checking the shelf once one has the appropriate SuDoc number may be necessary if not otherwise accounted for. Some documents have been integrated into the circulating, reference and/or periodical collections so those should be readily found in the OPAC with their location specified. Fiche and CDs are shelved separately by format.

Don't hesitate to ask for further assistance at the Reference Desk.  Donna Burton, Documents librarian, is available for research consultation by appointment. 

Scope of the Collection

The Schaffer Library Federal Documents Collection was first established in 1901.  It's the only depository library in Schenectady, but there are several others in the Capital District, including SUNY Albany, Albany Law School, Troy Public Library, and the New York State Library which is a regional depository and receives everything distributed by GPO Library Programs Service.  The Federal collection includes legislative hearings and reports, federal regulations, census records, statistical reports, court decisions, agency publications, posters, pamphlets and more, is available in paper, microfiche and several electronic formats.  Schaffer Library also maintains substantial collection of indexes, abstracts and commercially produced resources and databases designed to facilitate the search for government information.

Free Access

GPO

Collection Access and Circulation Policies

Circulation: 

Much of the Federal Government Information collection, generally most material not marked "Reference" or "Library Use Only," circulates.  Other exceptions would likely be microfiche and possibly some CDs or DVDs. Those affiliated with Union have defined circulation and loan periods.

 

Access:

General community members are encouraged to visit Schaffer Library and use the collection onsite.  Research assistance is available at the Reference.  Computer use and access is defined by the "Computing Resources and Internet Use Policy" for Union and general community members.  Printing and photocopying are charged at the same rate regardless of affiliation. Downloading is available without charge, however, the library is not required to provide storage media. A lot of government material is now available online and accessible freely from home. The majority of the collection is classified in the Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc) classification system and is shelved together on the lower level of the library.

Documents Basics

Government information is information created, co-authored, published or distributed by an official government body of any level of government. Government publications are publications that are produced or emanate from a government body. These terms are often interchanged. The Government Publishing Office is the most prolific publisher in the world.

U.S. Federal documents have no copyright restrictions although there may be joint or privatized products that may have.  A vast majority of current federal documents and a large number of older ones, can be found full text on the web due either to agency publication there or collections archived such as with Hathi Trust or Internet Archive.

Government agency web pages generally have acronym based URLs or those related to the subject of their area of responsibility. Many have Spanish language versions, FAQs, hot topics, news, events, employment opportunities, statistics, contact information and mission information. Search boxes are found on most as well.  Some special portals are set up for things like business.gov, kids.gov, health.gov, science.gov, trade.gov and nutrition.gov.

Subject Guide

Donna Burton's picture
Donna Burton
Contact:
Schaffer Library
Union College
807 Union Ave.
Schenectady, NY 12308
518-388-6635