Government documents (GovDocs) are items printed by federal, state, local or even international agencies. Booth Library is a federal and state depository of many items made available to the public through the free dispersal of certain classes of published government informaiton. (So, there's no need to travel to Springfield, Illinois or Washington D.C. to read them!) GovDocs are an invaluable source of information and do not just pertain to historical, legal, or political subjects: you can find all kinds of topics in our GovDocs room from ecology, fine arts, healthcare, maps, medicine, science, technology.... GovDocs are located on the 2000 level (second-floor), north, and have "Document" or "Document Reference" as the department location on the call number label.
United States Federal documents: Most of what you'll find in the rest of the GovDocs room contains U.S. Federal documents published by the United State Government Printing Office/GPO, which just happens to be the largest printer in the the world. Here--items ranging from one-page pamphlets or posters, to series sets numbering in the hundreds of volumes--are publications on just about any subject you can think of.. from the "Art of Michael L. Willcuts, Fine Art in Airbrush" in print, call # I 1.84:M58; to Bovine spongiform encephalopathy: an Overview - or Mad Cow Disease - online or in print, call # A 1.68:1705; or an official congressional hearing discussing Counterterrorism Policies and Priorities" online or in print, call # Y 4.F 76/2:S.HRG.113-135; or the pamphlet Lincoln Home Historic Site, Illinois, online or in print at call # I 29.6/6:L 63/3/999; to statistical information found in 200 Years of U.S. Census Taking: Population and Housing Questions, 1790-1990 found in print, call # C3.2:T93.
[1.] the class stem includes all letters and numbers before the :colon. The class stem tells you who published the document, for example 'A' for the Department of Agriculture, 'C' for the Commerce Department or 'D' for Defense Department.
This is a "quick and dirty" translation you need to find any Government Document (GovDoc). If you're interested in further details, take a look at the Superintendent of Documents Classification System which goes into greater length on SuDocs call numbers. If you're interested in more rules and regulations, the latest edition of the GPO Classification Manual has five chapters and 102 pages of classification explanation.
1) Before the colon : includes the originating agency abbreviation and other identifying information up to and including a colon (which acts as a stopping point, a period, or end of sentence).
A document entitled The Future of Journalism with the call number Y 4 .C73/7:S.HRG.111-428
Class Y indicates it is a document produced by Congress. Y 4 means the document is a House and Senate Congressional Committee Hearing.
.C73/7: means that a specific Senate subcommittee, the "Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation," is involved in the publishing of this document.
2) After the colon : all numbers and letters following the colon are the unique book number identifiying each published item, a series part, and the year or # of congress during which the item was published.
Before the colon
Y 4 is the issuing agency--the House and Senate Committee hearings
.G74/7: is a subcommittee, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
After the colon, the publication date is expressed as a year (or the number of the Congressional session under which it was created); and a series number.
113 denotes the one hundred thirteenth Congress during which the hearing originated
-78 is the series number (which would be followed by 113-79, 113-80, etc., if more hearings in the same series were published during the 113th congress).
This is the way the SuDoc call numbers will look on the item's call number label:
You can tell what government agency produced a document by the "class stem" that begins the document's call number. For example, documents with call numbers beginning with HE are from the Department of Health and Human Services. documents with call numbers beginning with SSA are from the Social Security Administration. The following links go straight into the agency or department's website.
A few more helpful hints in your GovDocs hunt:
- A colon is always in the middle of a SuDoc call number (no other classification system uses the colon)
- Periods are not decimal points & numbers between any punctuation are whole numbers
- 'Nothing' comes before 'Something'
C 56.246/2:TC72-T20 is filed before
C 56.246/2:TC72C1-6 because the -dash- is the "nothing" that is filed before the "something" of the letter C.
- Years before 2000 have the first number dropped (1999 is 999, 1967 is 967, etc.); after 2000, years are depicted as usual, with 4-digits
- Lastly, if more years, letters or numbers are added at the end...this is the order they should be on the shelf...
(Senate Hearing before Senate Print) (Year, 2006 before Number 113-24) (2-11 is last/nothing before something)
Correct SuDocs call # order...
Document A 13.36/RG-R3-09-10 Prescott National Forest Atlas Quadrangle Topographic Maps
Document A 13.36/2-6:R5-RG-158 Angeles National Forest Atlas Quadrangle Topographic Maps
Document B 1.2:EN3 VOA Special English Word Book
Document C 55.2:C81/4 NOAA Coral Reef Information System
Document D 214.20:26/1 Fortitudine / Bulletin of the Marine Corps Historical Program
Document E 2.2:IN8/2006 An Interstate Natural Gas Facility on My Land?
Document GP 3.29: P88/993 GPO Classification Manual
Document GS 4.20:765 Internal Revenue Assessment Lists for Indiana, 1862-1866
Document HE 22.43:1/1 Health Watch
Document HE 22.43:5/7 Health Watch
Document PREX 1.2:D84/16/996-2 Pulse Check: National Trends in Drug Abuse
Document Y 1.1/8:109-615 Al-Qaeda: The Many Faces of an Islamist Threat
Document Y 3.C76/3:11-3 H33/5 Consumer Product Safety Alert
Document Y 3.C76/3:11-4/993/July Consumer Product Safety Alert