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United States Federal Government - Government Documents Information

Lockwood Library became a selective federal government depository in 1963. The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) forwards to depository libraries copies of government publications without charge. Selective depositories receive only those items they choose to acquire. Depositories assume the responsibility of making the documents available to the entire community when receiving them gratis.

In UB's context, that means the University community, as well as the public at large. The Government Documents Collection receives approximately 64% of the documents available. Click here for a more detailed description of the depository system and click here for an audio description.

Although becoming a depository late, the UB Libraries still hold a wide variety of Congressional materials and census publications from the eighteenth century, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. Most federal government titles owned by UB are listed in the Libraries Catalog.  U.S. federal documents are located on the first floor of Lockwood Library. 

The following information will also help locate government publications.

The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library System Central Library (Lafayette Square) became a depository library in 1895 and holds many of the earlier materials unavailable at UB.

Lockwood Libraries Government Information home page ( includes a search engine that retrieves all government and related commercial sources cited on its Web site.

bing (Microsoft)
Bing does not index as many government publications as Google. However, it suggests alternative search strategies along the left sidebar. Use the site: command in bing as you would in Google. (US Small Business Administration in cooperation with other federal agencies)
The federal government's attempt to create a one-stop place for locating business information. Browse directories or search keywords to locate data.

Catalog of US Government Publications (US Government Publishing Office)
Indexes US government publications in all formats issued since 1976. GPO intends to add earlier documents in the future. Use the Monthly Catalog to locate documents published before 1976.

Cumulative Title Index to United States Public Documents, 1789-1976 , 16 volumes (United States Historical Documents Institute)
Lockwood Reference Z1223 .A115

FDsys (U.S. Government Publishing Office)
Provides access to publications issued by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. Browse for information, or perform basic or advanced searches. Selected key collections include:

  • Code of Federal Regulations
  • Compilation of Presidential Documents
  • Congressional Bills
  • Congressional Documents
  • Congressional Hearings
  • Congressional Record
  • Congressional Reports
  • Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation
  • Economic Indicators
  • Federal Register
  • Public and Private Laws
  • United States Code
  • United States Courts Opinions

Google indexes thousands of government documents. Specify government information using the site: and/or inurl: commands.


site: limits information to specified domains, such as .com, .edu, and .org. Though there are exceptions, most government agencies use the .gov domain.

CPI site:gov
Retrieves information about the consumer price index published by a government agency

Retrieves information about the CPI published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an agency within the U.S. Department of Labor.

inurl: limits information to specified terms in the URL, the Internet address.

CPI inurl:bls
Retrieves information about the consumer price index in Web sites that include the term bls. These may or may not be government agencies.

CPI inurl:bls site:gov
Retrieves information about the consumer price index published by government agencies that include bls in their URLs. This search retrieves identical information as that shown above (CPI

GPO Access (US Government Publishing Office)
A dated search engine since superseded by FDsys.

Index to Government Periodicals (Infordata International)
Lockwood Reference Z1223.Z7 I5 (1970-1987)
Capen Multimedia Center CD-ROM Z1223.Z7 I5 (1989-1999)

MetaLib (U.S. Government Publishing Office(GPO))
Searches multiple U.S. Federal government databases. The A-Z Resource List cites and links to sources covered.

Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications (US Government Publishing Office)
Lockwood Reference Z1223 .A18 (1929-1991)
Lockwood Documents US GP 3.8: (1956-1995)
Silverman Documents Collection US GP 3.8: (1964-1991 with gaps)
Capen Multimedia Center CD-ROM Z1223 .A18 (1996-2002)
The Monthly Catalog was the official index to US government documents between 1895 and the mid-1990's. Two supplemental tools are:

  • Cumulative Subject Index to the Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications, 1900-1971 , 15 volumes(Carrollton Press)
    Lockwood Reference Z1223 .A182
  • United States Government Publications, Monthly Catalog: Quinquennial Cumulative Personal Author Index , 1941-1975 (Pierian Press)
    Lockwood Reference Z1223 .A1823

Use the Catalog of US Government Publications to locate items published since 1976.

ProQuest Congressional
An index to Congressional publications.

ProQuest Statistical Insight

US Government Online Bookstore (U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO))
GPO maintains a large sales operation. Be certain to note titles and stock numbers (S/Ns) when purchasing items from GPO. Stock numbers are warehouse identification codes.

Subject Directories

Cross Agency Portals (U.S. General Services Administration)
Lists federal government Web sites on almost 100 popular subjects.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) (U.S. General Services Administration)
A compilation of FAQs issued by federal agencies on dozens of topics.


Government Information on the Web Subject Index (St. Mary's University)
Indexes subject guides to government documents prepared by nearly 30 colleges, universities, and other institutions.  Retrieve information by browsing a list of subject headings.

Government Resources by Subject (University at Buffalo. Arts and Sciences Libraries)
Provides key Web sites for government information, organized by topic, for a variety of jurisdictions, including the United States federal government. ( Alliance--a partnership of 14 federal agencies and 18 scientific and technical organizations)
Links to scientific and technical information on over 2,100 Web sites and over 50 databases. Use advanced search to limit information to specified areas. Topics cover:

  • Agriculture & Food - Food Safety, Gardening, Pesticides, Veterinary Science
  • Applied Science & Technologies - Biotechnology, Electronics, Engineering, Transportation
  • Astronomy & Space - Exploration, Planets, Space Technologies
  • Biology & Nature - Animals & Plants, Ecology, Genetics, Pest Control
  • Earth & Ocean Sciences - Land, Maps, Natural Disasters, Oceans, Weather
  • Energy & Energy Conservation - Energy Use, Fossil Fuel, Solar, Wind
  • Environment & Environmental Quality - Air/Water/Noise Quality, Cleanup, Climate Change
  • General Science - Multidisciplinary resources
  • Health & Medicine - Disease, Health Care, Nutrition, Mental Health
  • Math, Physics & Chemistry - Physical Science Resources from the DOE Science Accelerator
  • Natural Resources & Conservation - Ecosystems, Energy Resources, Forest Science, Mining
  • Science Education - Homework Help, Teaching Aids, Science Internships
  • Federal Regulations and Legislation (US General Services Administration)
(Formerly called FirstGov).
The federal government's attempt to create a one-stop shopping mall for all its information. is one of the most comprehensive US Government Web sites, but expectations that you might find all data in one place is unrealistic. Shoppers must often visit multiple malls before making purchases. Select Explore Topics to view information under broad headings. These include:

  • Benefits and grants,
  • Business and economics
  • Consumer protection
  • Defense
  • Environment and energy
  • Government sales and auctions
  • Health
  • History
  • Jobs and education
  • Law
  • Science
  • Travel and transportation
  • Voting.

Use the advanced search feature to retrieve information published by the federal and/or state governments.

Agencies and Departments

Agency Index (Washburn University School of Law Library)
Leads to government agency Web sites. Agency Index provides direct links to the agencies publications, organization charts, forms, and directories, and in selected cases, to libraries, agency manuals, and regulations.

Federal Agency Directory (Louisiana State University in cooperation with the US Government Publishing Office)
Links to official federal government Web sites.

FedStats directory to statistical agencies.

United States Government Manual (US National Archives and Records Administration. Office of the Federal Register) (1995-present)
Lockwood Reference JK 421 A3 (current year)
Lockwood Documents US AE 2.108/ 2 (1985-previous year)
Lockwood Documents US GS 4.109: (1936-1984/1985 with gaps)
The federal government's official directory that includes agency descriptions; staff listings; and contact information within each branch of government.


American Statistics Index (ASI) and Microfiche Library (ProQuest)
Lockwood Index Reference Z7554.U5 A4 (1974-2010)
Capen Multimedia Center MicFiche HA 195 A8 (1978-2008)
ASI indexes and abstracts federal government publications, and the ASI Microfiche Library includes microfiche copies of the same. Lockwood Library purchased microfiche of titles published between 1978 and 2008 that were not distributed to federal depository libraries. Arrangement is by ASI accession number (annual and journal publications have the same accession number each year). ProQuest Statistical Insight is an electronic index to documents in ASI . (U.S. Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council)
Provides access to statistical datasets produced by the Executive branch. Metadata (descriptions of resources) are well done.

FedStats (US Federal Interagency Council on Statistical Policy)
A one-stop shopping mall for statistics published by the federal government. FedStats covers agencies whose statistical activities are at least $500,000. Separate sections include:

  • Topic Links A to Z: Lists hundreds of topics.
  • MapStats: Provides socioeconomic profiles of states, counties, and Congressional districts.
  • Agencies Listed Alphabetically and Agencies by Subjects: Both summarize key statistics and offer contact information.
  • Data Access Tools: Links to selective databases.
  • Press Releases.
  • Kids' Pages.

FedStats also includes a search engine, but it is not a very good one. Use Proquest Statistical Insight for better indexing. Although many links still work, Washington has not updated FedStats since 2008.

ProQuest Statistical Insight
Indexes and abstracts statistics published by the federal government, the 50 states, trade and professional associations, and international agencies.

Statistical Abstract of the United States (U.S. Census Bureau)
Capen Multimedia Center US CD-ROM 106: C 3.134/ 7: 9 (1993+)
Lockwood Reference HA202 (1946+ with gaps; most recent at Reference Desk)
Lockwood HA202 (1894+ with gaps)
Lockwood Documents US C3.134 (1957+ with gaps)
ARCH/PLAN HA202 (2000+; most current in reference)
Silverman Reference HA202 (most current issue in reference)
Capen Multimedia Center MicFiche HA195 .U5 1972 fiche 3095-96 (1878-1945)
Compiles statistics from US government and other sources. Topics cover:

  • Accommodation, Food, & Other Services
  • Agriculture
  • Arts, Recreation, & Travel
  • Banking, Finance, & Insurance
  • Births, Deaths, Marriages, & Divorces
  • Business Enterprise
  • Construction & Housing
  • Education
  • Elections
  • Energy & Utilities
  • Federal Gov't Finances & Employment
  • Foreign Commerce & Aid
  • Forestry, Fishing, and Mining
  • Geography & Environment
  • Health & Nutrition
  • Income, Expenditures, Poverty, & Wealth
  • Information & Communications
  • International Statistics
  • Labor Force, Employment, & Earnings
  • Law Enforcement, Courts, & Prisons
  • Manufactures
  • National Security & Veterans Affairs
  • Population
  • Prices
  • Puerto Rico & the Island Areas
  • Science & Technology
  • Social Insurance & Human Services
  • State & Local Gov't Finances & Employment
  • Transportation
  • Wholesale & Retail Trade

All tables include references for further information and most include historical data. Budget restrictions will force the Census Bureau to discontinue the Statistical Abstract in 2012.

Statistical Information Sources (University at Buffalo. Arts and Sciences Libraries)
Describes kinds of statistical data and suggests guides to data sources.

U.S. Census Bureau
Select Subject A to Z for a list of hundreds of topics on which the Census Bureau and other federal agencies collect statistics.

Learning U.S. Government Information: Textbooks and Other Sources

Fundamentals of Government Information: Mining, Finding, Evaluating, and Using Government Resources (Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2011) Lockwood Reference ZA5055 .U6 F67 2011
The most current textbook on the subject.

Government Information in the 21st Century (OCLC Online Computer Library Center)
Attempts to train reference and public service librarians to use government information. Topics cover:

  • Citizenship and immigration
  • Crime and justice
  • Consumerism
  • Demographics
  • E-government
  • Elections and the political process
  • Energy and natural resources
  • Environment
  • Health and medicine
  • History and genealogy
  • Kids stuff
  • Legal information
  • Recreation and culture
  • Science and technology
  • Small business and entrepreneurship

Introduction to United States Government Information Sources (Libraries Unlimited, 1999)
Lockwood Reference ZA5055 .U6 M67 1999
A comprehensive handbook.

Locating United States Government Information: A Guide to Sources (William Hein and Company, 1997)
Lockwood Reference ZA5055 .U6 H47 1997
Lockwood Reference ZA5055 .U6 H47 2001 (Internet supplement)
Attempts to instruct researchers in using federal government publications through descriptive text, illustrations, and questions and answers. The author, Edward Herman, is the Government Documents Librarian in UB's Arts and Sciences Libraries.

Tapping the Government Grapevine: The User Friendly Guide to US Government Information Sources (Oryx Press, 1998)
Lockwood Reference ZA5055 .U6 R63 1998
Lockwood ZA5055 .U6 R63 1998
The author, Judith Robinson, is a Professor in UB's Department of Library And Information Studies.

Using Government Information Sources: Electronic and Print (Oryx Press, 2001)
Lockwood Reference Desk Z1223 .Z7 S4 2001
ARCH/PLAN Reference Z1223 .Z7 S4 2001
A practical handbook for answering nearly 30 different types of government information questions.