Government Documents

Since its inception, the government's most important priority is to provide valuable, trusted, and timely information and services for the American people. Information produced and published by the government is vast in both scope and depth. Government documents include publications and detailed data from U.S. federal, state, and local, as well as foreign and international governmental departments and agencies. Additionally, government information is a primary resource, and is thereby useful for original research. Government materials are acquired primarily through GPO, other agencies, and subscriptions.

NOAA and the Federal Depository Library Program


The NOAA Central Library (NCL) has been a selective depository library for U.S. government publications distributed through the U.S. Federal Depository Library Program since 1993. The NCL depository selects federal publications in a variety of formats about NOAA-related subjects to support the library's mission of providing scientific, technical, and legislative information services to NOAA employees and the general public. More specifically, the depository collects publications about oceanography, atmospheric sciences, meteorology, coastal zone management, fisheries, satellites, minerals management, and environmental sciences, as well as congressional documents covering these subjects. Cartographic materials such as NOAA nautical charts, U.S. Geological Survey maps and Federal Aviation Administration aeronautical charts are also received through the FDLP program. The depository materials are available to other federal, industry, and academic users, as well as the general public.

The regional federal depository is located at McKeldin Library of the University of Maryland in College Park. It has been serving selective depositories in Maryland, Washington D.C., and Delaware since 1965. The regional depository contains a very rich collection of over 2 million government publications in various formats and makes its resources and services available to the public. This guide introduces users to the depository as well as non-depository collections of Government Information.

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Locating Government Publications at NOAA Central Library

  • Government publications are generally housed in the northeast corner of the library with the following exceptions:
    • NOAA publications are shelved in the library's general stacks, cataloged under Library of Congress classification
    • Legal materials are shelved in the Legal Collection
    • Serials are in the located in the periodical or reference areas
    • Micro-image materials are stored in cabinets located in the reference area
    • CD-ROMs can be found at the reference desk and in the government documents stacks
    • Maps are in the flat file cabinets and shelf files located in the southeast corner of the library.
  • NOAALINC is the NOAA library catalog. Use it to search for government publications at NCL. Use the location drop down list to limit your search to a specific location: e.g."Government documents", "Maps", or "Legal materials".
  • Visit our Maps and Charts section for a detailed description of the NCL map collection.

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Catalogs and Databases

  • Catalog of U.S. Government Publications Find electronic and print publications of the U.S. government published since 1976. (U.S. Government Printing Office)
  • Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) Provides centralized access to all of Department of Defense's scientific and technical information on DoD's multidisciplinary research, development, engineering, and studies programs.
  • Homeland Security Digital Library (Available only at public workstations of NCL)- A database of over 57,000 non-classified Presidential directives, policy and national strategy documents as well as specialized resources related to Homeland Security.
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Directories and Search Engines

  • The Government's new site for Government data, the purpose of is to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. The site will become a repository for all the information the government collects, and proposes to publish to the public any data that is not private, or restricted by national security reasons.
  • FDsys GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys) provides public access to Government information submitted by Congress and Federal agencies and preserved as technology changes. Collections including CRF, Federal Register, Hearings, Bills, and the Budget are available online for the current and previous few years on the FDsys homepage.
  • GPO The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) home page. This is an updated website of the GPO Access website, containing thousands of publications from the Government Printing Office.
    • The GPOExpress Program, in contract with FedEx, allows government document printing privileges to Government personnel, including a NOAA GPOExpress page
  • Federal Agency Directory Search federal agencies by keyword or browse the list in an alphabetical or hierarchical arrangement. (Louisiana State University)
  • Authoritative selected science information provided by U.S. Government agencies including research and development results
  • Official web portal for government information, including links to jobs and education, science and technology, consumer guides, and other services and resources (Formerly known as
  • USGS Science Topics Provides an alternate way to browse USGS science programs and activities

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Federal Information: General

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Federal Information: Legislative and Regulatory

  • Code of Federal Regulations The codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government. CFR is available online through:
  • Identify your Congressional representatives; research Congressional voting records; learn about the issues of the day; and send e-mail directly to Congress. (a free public service of Capitol Advantage and Knowlegis, LLC)
  • The Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents.
  • The Federal Register Tutorial, 'What It Is and How to Use It Online Tutorial' is available in PDF and HTML formats (The National Archives).The Federal Register is available online through:
  • is a service of the Library of Congress that offers free access to legislative and other information.
  • CRS Reports Congressional Research Service Reports from the Federation of American Scientists. UNT Digital Library also hosts a large collection of CRS reports. For further research, Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports Research Guide is an excellent resource.

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State Information

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International and Foreign Government Information

  • CIA World Factbook Provides comprehensive country profiles including geographic, economic, governmental, and other information. (Central Intelligence Agency)
  • Country Studies Presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world. (Library of Congress)
  • Foreign National Governments, International Governmental Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations Links from ALA GODORT International Documents Task Force website
  • UN Data UNdata is an internet-based data service which brings UN statistical databases within easy reach of users through a single entry point
  • United Nations A portal for online resources of the United Nations including news, press releases, publications, and more in several languages
  • US State Department A portal for information from the U.S. State Department
  • Delivers information about current U.S. foreign policy and about American life and culture. (U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs)

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Statistical Data and Resources

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Additional Resources

  • Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids Provides resources for teachers, students, and parents to learn how the U.S. government works. (Government Printing Office)
  • Copyright from the Library of Congress United States Copyright Office
  • Government Information Online: Ask a Librarian A free online information service supported by nearly twenty public, state and academic libraries throughout the United States. All participants are designated Federal depository libraries in the U.S. Government Printing Office's Federal Depository Library Program. Many are also official depository libraries for other types of governments and public agencies
  • Tax Forms on the Internet University of Maryland McKeldin Library 'Federal, State, and DC Tax Forms' page. Also links to the IRS home page
  • U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Information on a broad spectrum of federal agency support functions, including recent contractor suspensions, safety initiatives, frequent flyer miles, etc. Links to the Federal Citizen Information Center, a consumer focus archive, which also provides federal information in other languages

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This directory was last updated on 10 October 2014.