Finding Government Documents


The federal and Texas governments gather information on a wide variety of subjects. Many of the resulting publications, called government documents, can be found in depository libraries, such as the Cornette Library. Naturally, any time you are researching a current affairs issue, such as educational reform in Texas or the current United States budget surplus, you would want to use government documents. However, you will also find information in government documents about everything from how to prepare heart healthy food to Native American religion, from monthly rainfall statistics for Amarillo to NASA jigsaw puzzles, from the battle of Guadalcanal to World War II posters. In other words, even when you don't think there may be something useful or unique in government documents, check anyway.

Finding Texas Documents

All Texas documents in the Cornette Library are included in the online library catalog. You can search for them by author, title, subject, keyword, and call number. When you find documents of interest listed, write down the location and the full call number. Texas documents are shelved in seven aisles east of the maps cases. If you have any trouble finding Texas documents, ask for assistance at the Documents Desk. In June 2011, the Texas State Publications Depository Program was severely curtailed. At this time, two copies of each publication remain with the Texas State Library and one copy each is distributed to Texas Tech University and the University of North Texas.

Finding United States Documents

For thorough research, finding United States government documents is a two-step process. First, find out what has actually been published. Second, find out whether the documents are available in the Cornette Library. An easy way to find U.S. documents is to search the Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications which indexes all publications available from the federal government. Access to online versions include an index from 1976 to present via GPO Monthly Catalog from FirstSearch (WTAMU only) or for free from the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications. The library also has the print version of the Monthly Catalog beginning with 1913 until it was discontinued in 2004. Both the print and online versions can be searched by author, agency, title, and subject. Other useful indexes include: ProQuest Statistical Insight (for US and state statistics) and ProQuest Congressional (for Congressional publications from 1789 to present). Ask at the Documents Desk for help with any of these databases.

After finding useful citations, check to see if those documents are available in the Cornette Library. All federal documents published after 1994 and received by the library, are searchable by title, SuDoc number, subject, or keyword in the online library catalog. If the document was published in 1994 or earlier, check the Shelflist by SuDoc number to see whether the library received the publication and in what format (print, microform, etc.). Many major titles of government publications are available at FDsys, from the Government Printint Office. Documents which are not available at WTAMU can usually be borrowed via Interlibrary Loan.

Additionally, some magazines published by the U.S. and Texas governments are housed in the Periodicals department, and some indexes are housed in the Reference department. Check the title in our online library catalog or ask for help at the Periodicals, Reference, or Documents Desks.