How to Locate Government Publications in Trexler Library

Trexler Library has been an official Federal Depository Library since 1939. Currently, the library catalogs about 30% of all new materials offered through this U.S. Government program. Click here for more information about the FDL Program.

Step 1: Identifying Documents
All government documents in Trexler Library have been cataloged, except for some maps older than 1976. To search the catalog, click here, and type your search words in the box. Set the Location to "Government Documents Collection".

Type of Search Comments Examples
KEYWORD This is the most general kind of search. Try to use words that are unique, if possible, or search using several words. smoking
This search tries to match the title exactly.
Statistical Abstract of the United States
Search for a person's last name or the name of a government agency.
Central Intelligence Agency
This searches for Library of Congress Subject Headings that match the words you entered. You then select a Subject Heading to see all titles in that subject.

United States

Step 2: Reading the Catalog Record
From your search results list, click on a title that interests you to find out more about that item. The catalog record will contain the author, title, and publisher information. Below the publisher, you will see a box containing the location of the item, the call number, and information about the item's check-out (circulation) status. Below that box, look for additional details describing the item physically, as well as subject headings that describe its content.

To locate the item, you will need the following information from the catalog record:
  1. Title (or at least the first few words)
  2. Location
  3. Call Number
  4. Series (for locating Congressional documents only)

Online access: Often, government documents are available online through the internet. If the web address (in blue) appears above the call number box in the cataloging record, you can click on this address to access an electronic copy of the document.

Step 3: Finding a document's "Location"
Government documents are kept on Level A of Trexler Library. Use the following chart to determine where on Level A to look for the item based on the "Location" listed in the catalog record.

Catalog Record Location shows: Format Location on Level A in Trexler Library
U.S. Government Publications paper Shelved by Call Number (A to Z) in Government Documents section
U.S. Government Publications online only Access available through hyperlink(s) in the catalog record. Look for the "Select here to connect" heading in the record
U.S. Government Publications - CD-ROMs computer program CD-ROM Carousels near Reference Desk (Information Services)
Microforms - U.S. Government Publications microfiche Documents Microforms area
Map Cases - U.S. Government Publications paper Government Documents maps alcove (near the atlas cases in Reference area)

Step 4: Finding a Government Document "Call Number"
Government Documents use the Superintendant of Documents (SuDocs) classification scheme. The letter or letters at the beginning of the call number stand for the government agency that collects or produces the information. They are organized alphabetically on the shelves or in the microfiche drawers using these letters. Within each letter, materials are organized numerically. Each space or piece of punctuation in the call number, no matter what kind it is, acts as a separator, so treat each number or letter as a separate shelving element.

  Example: C 3.2:D 26/11

There are no decimals or fractions in the SuDocs system--only whole numbers and letters. In this example, start by finding the main letter category, "C," then within the C's, locate the second element, "3," then 2, D, 26, 11. Build the call number one shelving element at a time. As you add each additional element, you should be moving to your right along the shelves or from front to back in the microfiche drawers.

Finding Government Information not in the Trexler Library Catalog

If you have not been able to identify the materials that you are looking for through the Library's catalog, there may be government information online that interests you. Some government documents are published in both paper and electronic versions. Others are released only on the web.

If you are not sure where to find the information that you want, it might be helpful to start at a "gateway site" that will guide you in the right direction. FDsys is the official government information gateway site. It provides categories for many types or sources of government in formation, a list of "quick links" to specific publications that are well known, and several links to newly released items or government news.  Another gateway is The Trexler Library Government Information page has a list of popular links with descriptions of the type of content available.


Other Depository Libraries
The nearest alternate depository library is at Lehigh University, although Allentown Public Library does have some U.S. Census information. A complete collection of government documents is held by the Regional Depository at the State Library of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. Search for additional locations using the FDLP directory.