Center for Research Libraries - Global Resources Network

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Governments, like other large organizations, collect, produce, and distribute information. They generate statistical, demographic, economic, and geospatial information, and publish documents such as laws, regulations, executive orders, and other public records of legislative, judicial, and executive decisions and activities.

In the print era, the United States government agencies published most of their documents and data through the Government Printing Office.


Libraries acquired those materials, stored, organized, and preserved them, and promoted access  by cataloging and indexing them and  providing guidance on their use to researchers.  Many U.S. research libraries serve as regional and selective federal depositories, maintaining and continuing to add to collections of government print and microform publications. CRL preserves government publications that are not widely available elsewhere, especially U.S. state agency publications prior to 1950. 

Libraries also purchase access to government documents and data aggregated and republished by commercial publishers like ProQuest, LexisNexis, and others . . .

In the digital era, government agencies expose documents, data, and information directly to the web, and “open government” data initiatives have been embraced in the U.S. at the local, state, and federal levels. As a result, more actors are involved in the production and distribution of government information, leading to greater complexities and contingencies in the supply chain.

These actors include organizations responsible for the technologies that enable production and distribution of government information in electronic form: organizations that produce the software agencies use for creating digital documents and content . . .

And makers of the cloud-based applications and platforms, like Google Maps, YouTube, and FaceBook, that enable the storage, display, manipulation, and analysis of government-produced content, and its interoperability with related documents and information from other sources . . .

In addition, a growing number of commercial entities mine, re-aggregate, and provide access to government-produced information in the digital era, building new services and products around data generated and exposed by federal, state, and local agencies.

The electronic publishing process is fluid and dynamic: instead of producing “documents” and other discrete units of digital information, agencies output information in the form of electronic text, video, datasets, and other formats that can be continually updated, edited, and revised-- and even withdrawn entirely from the platforms on which they are published.

Preserving digital government information therefore requires a different set of strategies than those that ensured the long-term integrity and persistence of paper-based materials. Government agencies, research libraries, and commercial publishers and aggregators will all play roles in that endeavor.

CRL Collections

    CRL's collection of government publications, information, and data is extensive, containing more than a half million volumes of official publications from U.S. federal and state government agencies and legislatures. The holdings were built primarily through contributions of rare and/or infrequently used materials from CRL libraries. CRL continues to grow the collections through ongoing acquisition of print, purchase of collections through CRL's purchase programs, and adding new materials through collection partnerships.

    The references below feature many of the strengths of CRL's holdings. Links point to detailed descriptions in the CRL catalog and, where available, lead to digital versions of the content or digitized finding aids for microfilm.

    See also:

    Congressional Bills and Resolutions

    U.S. Congressional Bills and Resolutions, 1789-1933.
    United States. Congress.

    CRL holds the microfilm set of congressional bills and resolutions from the 1st through the 72nd Congress.

    Catalog Record
    U.S. Congressional Bills and Resolutions, 1933-1938.
    United States. Congress.

    CRL holds microfiche of the congressional bills and resolutions from the 73rd through the 75th Congress.

    Catalog Record
    U.S. Congressional Bills and Resolutions, 1939-1956.
    United States. Congress.

    CRL holds hard copy (incomplete) of the congressional bills and resolutions from the 76th through the 84th Congress. Uncataloged. Arranged on the shelf by congress, session and bill/resolution number.

    U.S. Congressional Bills and Resolutions, 1957-Nov. 1965.
    United States. Congress.
    1957–Nov. 1965

    CRL holds the microprint set of congressional bills and resolutions from the 85th through the first session of the 89th Congress. Uncataloged. The microprint is arranged by the entry number in the Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications

    U.S. Congressional Bills and Resolutions, 1967-1979.
    United States. Congress.
    United States. Congressional Information Service.

    CRL holds microfiche of congressional bills and resolutions from the 90th through the 95th Congress, arranged by congress and bill/resolution number.

    Cataloged separately. See the following links:

    U.S. Congressional hearings, 1869-1950.
    Greenwood Press

    Microfiche set of the records of the House, Senate, Joint, Select, and Special committees. Includes hearings from the 25th Congress (1839) through the 91st Congress, 1st session (1969). 


    • U.S. Congress. Senate. Library. Index of Congressional committee hearings prior to January 3, 1935 in the United States Senate Library. Z1223.A 1935
    • Thomen. Harold Ordell. Supplement to the Index of Congressional committee hearings prior to January 3, 1935. D-9385
    • U.S. Congress. Senate. Library. Cumulative index of Congressional committee hearings from Seventy-fourth Congress (January 3, 1935) through Eighty-fifth Congress (January 3, 1959) in the United States Senate Library. Z1223.A 1959


    Catalog Record

    Government Agency Publications

    Hearings of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
    U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
    University Publications of America
    1975–August 1979

    Collection of NRC hearings from 1975 to August 1979.

    Catalog Record · Guide
    U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Schedules, Specifications, and Drawings.
    United States. Bureau of Reclamation
    Govt. Printing Office

    Collection of the Department of the Interior’s reports containing schedules, specifications, and drawings for projects in the area from Denver west. CRL has incomplete holdings of nos. 419-3972 for 1923–53. CRL also holds earlier nos. [49-127] (1905-1907) and [128-418] (1907-1923) from predecessor agencies.

    Catalog Record
    United States government publications; non-depository

    This is the microprint set of all non-depository documents listed in the Monthly catalog of United States government publications. The Center has the microprint from 1953 through 1980 only.

    When requesting these documents through interlibrary loan, please specify the date of the issue of the Monthly catalog and the entry number of the document.

    Works Progress Administration.
    Works Progress Administration

    CRL has a collection of materials (approximately 1,300 volumes) produced by the Historical Records Survey Program of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). CRL acquired its holdings from deposits by member libraries.

    The materials consist of inventories of state, county, municipal, and church archives, church directories, newspaper indexes, ship registers, and indexes to personal archives.

    CRL’s WPA materials are not cataloged, but are arranged on the shelf by state. The guide to this collection is a list of the titles, arranged by geographic area.

    US State Documents

    Records of the states of the United States of America: a microfilm compilation
    Library of Congress, University of North Carolina
    Library of Congress

    1875 reels created under the "State Records Microfilm Project" (conducted 1941-1950).

    Selection of documents of the states, including legislative journals, statutory laws, records of American Indian Nations, and constitutional, administrative, executive and court records. Some local (county and city) records are included, and, in the supplementary reels, some early newspapers that contain the only extant printings of official proceedings or records.

    GUIDE: William Sumner Jenkins. A guide to the microfilm collection of early state records. Z1033.M6U48 (main volume and supplement)

    Catalog Record · Electronic Version · Guide
    U.S. State documents

    CRL's collection of U.S. state documents consists of the official publications of the legislative bodies, departments, and agencies of all fifty of the United States.The collection contains materials issued from the earliest period of state or territorial government, through 1950, with holdings of legislative journals included through 1990. The total collection is estimated to contain over 500,000 items occupying 30,500 linear feet.

    This collection includes substantial files of legislative journals, budgets, administrative and financial reports of state agencies. It includes monographic and serial titles important for research in several research areas: environment, health, education, highways and other public services provided by state governments. Other kinds of materials in the collection are blue books, budgets, statistical yearbooks, constitutions and proceedings of constitutional conventions.

     Most of these holdings are hardcopy volumes deposited by member libraries.  By policy, the state documents collection is not cataloged, and there are no records for these materials in the Center's catalog. The documents are arranged on the shelves by state and alphabetically by issuing body and title. The Library of Congress' Monthly checklist of state publications and checklists issued by individual states are appropriate sources for identifying or verifying specific titles.

    Certain types of publications are excluded from CRL's collection policy: internal agency newsletters, promotional publications, agricultural experiment station publications, maps, ephemera, session laws and compiled statues, and state court reports. CRL also excluded certain publications known to be widely available or, in some cases, collected by the National Agricultural Library or the National Library of Medicine.

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