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Government Information (Jonsson)

Last Updated: 8-May-2013

This guide introduces our users the vast depository and non-depository collections of Government Information at the Stanford University Libraries.

Subject Librarians

US Government Information Librarian
(650) 862-9871
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Government Information Librarian, State, Local and International Documents
(650) 723-2851
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Jonsson Library of Government Documents

The Jonsson Library of Government Documents, located on the East lobby of the Cecil H. Green Library building, is the home of the Government Documents Department of the Stanford University Libraries.  Reference assistance with government documents is available from the Green Library Information Center desk or by contacting the government information librarians directly. 

Government documents include publications and data of the U.S. federal, U.S. state and local, foreign national and local, and international governmental agencies. We acquire materials via depository agreements, subscriptions, mailing lists, and by contacting agencies directly.

Coming Soon to this section: History of the Jonsson Library

What is a Depository Library?

"A library designated by law to receive without charge all or selection 
of the official publications of a government."

"Governments at all levels have arrangements to get their publications to people.  Depository programs exist for states, the federal government, foreign governments and international organizations. The US version is the Federal Depository Library Program or FDLP. State and international organization depository programs are typically administered by headquarter libraries.  For example, the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, is the program manager for the United Nations depository program and the California State Library manages the California depository library program." 

-Forte, E. J., Hartnett, C. J., & Sevetson, A. (2011). Fundamentals of government information : mining, finding, evaluating, and using government resources. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers. p. 45

Federal Collections

US Depository and other Federal Government Information Collections

FDLP Logo, This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code. See Copyright.

The Stanford University Libraries (FDLP #0051) are an 85% Selective Federal Depository Library, established in 1895. However, publications prior to that date have been actively acquired in print and digital formats. Non-depository documents are also collected.  Depository materials are cataloged and arranged in the Green Library Basement Stacks using the SuDoc classification system. This system arranges publications on the shelf by issuing agency.  

The US depository collection has provided the systematic supply of the regular output of the Government Printing Office (GPO); over the years, titles extending back to the Continental Congress have been added to form a substantial documentary resource of the early government of America. Several agencies have become the focus of the Collection:

• Agriculture Department
• Commerce Department
• Congress
• Interior Department
• Office of the President
• State Department
• War Department

Many smaller agencies with a limited output of publications are also very significant because of their historical context: for example, Panama Canal, Censorship Office, and the Children's Bureau. Their publications are also systematically collected.  Active book selection for the United States Federal collection has brought in government agency publications which are not issued by the Government Printing Office, commonly referred to as non-depository publications. Still more importantly for the researcher are the special resources of unpublished archives, usually in microformat.  Other special resources include the microfiche series of declassified documents, titles in the American Statistics Index, technical reports of the Atomic Energy Commission, and a typescript copy of the hearings of the National Recovery Administration (1933-1935).

Finally, a note on the physical size of the United States collection underscores its significance: there are in excess of 130,000 volume equivalents of publications, 160,000 technical reports, thousands of reels of microfilm of archives, and more than 300,000 microfiche.

California Collections

California Depository and other State Government Information Collections

 Zscout370 on en.wikimediaThe Stanford Library became a depository library for California State Government Publications in 1965. However, publications prior to that date have been acquired, with nearly complete coverage of Legislative publications back to 1849.  The majority of the collection is classified in the California State Library classification scheme or CalDoc classification and is shelved in the Green Library West Stacks on Level W2. 

Publications of other states and jurisdictions are in the Green Library stacks and branch libraries with a small reference collection in the Social Sciences Resources Center, Bing Wing, Green Library. Collection strengths are in historical legislative manuals or bluebooks, state statistical yearbooks, and various executive agency reports. 

International Collections

United Nations Depository and other International Government Organizations

International governmental organizations (IGO) are agencies to which three or more national government below.  The Stanford Library is a United Nations Depository Library (DL-021), established in 1946 when the UN was formed. The library also has a strong League of Nations collection, the precursor of the UN.  The official records, publications, reports of the UN and other IGOs are either housed in the Green Library Stacks by LC or in the West Stacks, W2, and are classified by the UN Official Document symbol  or by their appropriate international document classification symbol, e.g. OAS, UNESCO, etc.  

The Library has strong historical and current collections for the World Trade Organization, and its precursor the General Agreement on Tarriffs and Trade (GATT); the Organization of American States (once a depository, now full subscription library); the European Union and European Commission;  and certain specialized agencies of the United Nations, specifically the World Bank, UNESCO, OECD, ICAO, and IMF.

Supplementing the international organiztion collections, the Library collects print and digital materials from a diverse range of international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), with emphasis on those with UN consultative status or those who focus on key research areas for the University, e.g. Development, Economics and Finance, Energy, Environment, Labour, Trade, etc.

Foreign Collections

Foreign government documents are collected from various national governments aroud the world.  Historically, the Stanford Libraries have collected extensively from Great Britain; France; Argentina; Brazil; Chile; Uruguay; SubSaharan Africa.