Finding Government Documents


Every government gathers information on a wide variety of subjects. The resulting publications, called government documents, can be found in depository libraries. 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 coin collecting, from the battle of Guadalcanal to stress points along the San Andreas fault. In other words, even when you don't think there may be something useful in government documents, check anyway.

Finding Texas Documents

All Texas documents are included in our online library catalog. You can search for them by author, title, subject, keyword, and call number. When you find documents listed that you want to look at, write down the location and the full call number. Texas documents are shelved in three aisles by the maps cases. If you have any trouble finding Texas documents, ask for assistance at the Documents Desk.

Finding United States Documents

Finding United States government documents is a two-step process. The first is to find out just what has been published. The second step is to find out whether the documents are available in the Cornette Library. To find U.S. documents you must begin with the Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications which indexes all publications from the federal government. Access to computerized versions include an index from 1976 to present via FirstSearch (WTAMU only) or on the Internet from 1994 to present at GPO Access. We also have the paper version of the Monthly Catalog beginning with 1913. Both the paper and electronic versions can be searched by author, agency, title, and subject. Other useful indexes include: LexisNexis Statistical (for US and state statistics) and the LexisNexis Congressional (for Congressional publications from 1789 to present). Ask at the Documents Desk for help with any of these databases.

Once you have found your citations, you will need to see if those documents are available in the Cornette Library. If the document was published after 1994, look the title or SuDoc number up in the online library catalog. If the document was published in 1994 or earlier, check the Shelflist by SuDoc number to see whether we received the publication and in what format. 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 Unit, and some indexes are housed in the Reference/InterLibrary Loan Unit. Check the title in our online library catalog or ask at the Periodicals, Reference, or Documents Desks.