Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

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 1100 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).
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. 
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.

Scope of the Collection

The Schaffer Library Federal Documents Collection was first established in 1901.  It's the only depository library in Schenectady. 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.
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


Collection Access and Circulation Policies

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. 
General community members are encouraged to visit Schaffer Library and use the collection onsite.  Research assistance is available at the Reference desk.  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 HathiTrust 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, and

Documents in the News

Senate confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson as first Black woman on Supreme Court ( 53-47 vote)
Senate Hearing Day 1
Senate Hearing Day 2
Senate Hearing Day 3
Senate Hearing Day 4
Supreme Court leaves Texas abortion ban in place. 
2020 Census Apportionment Results Delivered to the President
The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that the 2020 Census shows the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2020, was 331,449,281. Press Release
Joint Statement from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security Assessing the Impact of Foreign Interference During the 2020 U.S. Elections: No Evidence Found that a Foreign Government Manipulated Any Election Results.
Press Release,  Link to Statement
H.R.1319 - American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

Bill Actions