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Research Guides

Government Documents: Introduction

How to find US, state, and international government publications in Geisel Library and online.

You've Seen The Sign, But What Does It Mean?

federal depository libraries program logo

This logo means that, "This library is a congressionally designated depository for US Government documents. Public access to the government documents collection is guaranteed by public law. (Title 44 §1911 United States Code)". 

All members of the community including students, faculty, staff, and members of the public may use these documents for free at all times the library is open. 


Since 1963, Geisel Library has been a selective depository of the United States Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). As a selective depository, we receive approximately 22% of items distributed via the United States Government Printing Office (GPO). Documents are available in print, microfiche or online format. We also serve the 1st U.S. Congressional District of New Hampshire in conjunction with 3 other depositories and are also a depository for State of New Hampshire government publications.

What Exactly ARE Gov Docs?

Generally, a government document is any publication produced by a government agency. The U.S. Code defines a government document or publication as "informational matter which is published as an individual document at government expense, or as required by law." (44 U.S.C. § 1901). This includes items printed by federal, state, local, or even international agencies.

But Why Would I Use Government Publications?

Government publications offer authoritative and timely information that can enhance your research.  Here are examples of how they can help you:

  • Primary documents such as Senate committee reports, Supreme Court decisions, and transcripts of Congressional debates can provide important perspectives on hot policy debates
  • The U.S. federal government's numerous agencies (such as the EPA, Census Bureau, and FBI) produce reports and statistics touching on the economy, health, environment, and social issues
  • State governments such as New Hampshire's publish documents with a more local concentration, including statistical studies of crime and education trends
  • Organizations like the United Nations, European Union, and the World Bank issue publications on international concerns such as poverty, global security, and women's rights

Got Questions? I Can Help!

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Laura Gricius-West
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Saint Anselm College | Geisel Library
100 St. Anselm Dr. #1746
Manchester, NH 03102
(603) 641-7292
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