Government Documents

U.S. Government Publishing Office logoPenfield Library is a congressionally designated Selective Depository for U.S. Government documents. Public access to the government documents collection is guaranteed by public law (Title 44 United States Code). All members of the public are able and encouraged to access our government documents collection.

For a paper or online government document check the Catalog of United States Government Publications. To find electronic versions of government documents, you may also use the Find Research Materials search box on the library's home page.  After searching, limit by selecting Government Printing Office Catalog from the expanded list of Databases.

The bulk of our physical government documents are located on the second floor. Most of these items are not cataloged, but we do have a partial inventory available. There are are also resources that are part of our other collections, primarily on the third floor. These can be discovered via our catalog or this spreadsheet organized by Library of Congress call number.

For New York State documents try the New York State Library Online Catalog.

Please ask for help at the Research Help Desk or contact the Government Documents librarian.

The SuDoc Classification System

All federal government documents are given Superindentent of Documents (SuDoc) Classification number.

These classification numbers consist of a class stem, which brings related documents together, and a suffix, which uniquely identifies a publication.

Classification numbers start with capital letters that represent the department or independent agency issuing a publication.

Example: A represents the Department of Agriculture

Letters are followed by numbers representing an agency as a whole or a subordinate office. The number is followed by a period.

Example: 13. represents the Forest Service (part of the Department of Agriculture)

After the period is a number designating the series or serial title or category of publication. This is followed by a colon. The letters and numbers before the colon are the class stem.

Example: 150 represents Southern Research Station: General Publications

A document with the class stem A 13.150: is a general publication issued by the Department of Agriculture, Southern Research Station.

After the colon comes the suffix identifying the individual publication.

Example: A 13.150:W 64 is the SuDoc number for the book Wildflowers of the Savannah River Site.

Note: In SuDoc Classification numbers before the colon are whole numbers, not decimal numbers as in the Library of Congress call numbers used in the rest of the library. So, HS 2. comes before HS 15.

Databases for government information

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A Note on Offensive and Outdated Language

The publications available through the Government Publishing Office (GPO) span from the 1800s to the present. When searching government information you may come across outdated and offensive language. For information about GPO's position on harmful language please see their statement linked below.