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Introduction to Government Documents

Introduction to Government Documents



This introduction to government documents covers types and sources of government documents, FDsys, the Federal Register, the United States Code, Regulations.gov, the SuDoc system and citing government ...

This introduction to government documents covers types and sources of government documents, FDsys, the Federal Register, the United States Code, Regulations.gov, the SuDoc system and citing government documents.



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  • Transcripts of Congressional debates are in the Congressional Record.
  • You can refine/limit your results by year, location, organization and more using the links on the left.
  • Our results are now limited to items from 2011.
  • Scroll down to “United States Code” in the list on the left and double-click it to add it to the right side. That’s how you select which resource to search.
  • We get several results for the same law because we searched across all years. This means that if this law was passed in 1993, it would appear in each annual version of the U.S. Code from 1993 to today. The last line for each result gives you the option to show this result in only the recent editions of the U.S. code. Go ahead and click the link.
  • Now the last line of each result indicates that it’s from the most recent version of the U.S. Code available. Note that each result is now unique – no more duplicates.
  • Note the “Result Groups” panel on the left. Click a link to refine your search and limit to a particular state or group.
  • Note that the link on the results page may take you to a specific point within the case record. Scroll up and down to view the entire record for the case. A case summary and decision is included for each case.
  • The SuDocs system arranges material by government agency, as opposed to the Library of Congress classification system that the library uses for most materials, which groups material by topic.
  • Until the year 2000, the first number was dropped from years, so those years have 3 digits. Beginning with the year 2000, years will be 4 digits.

Introduction to Government Documents Introduction to Government Documents Presentation Transcript

  • INTRODUCTION TO GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS Kate Dougherty, Electronic Resources andJune 2011 Government Documents Librarian, Southern University at New Orleans
  • Overview Government  Court Decisions Documents: What  Government and Why? Reports FDsys  Library Catalog Federal Register  SuDoc Shelving Regulations.gov System U.S. Code  Citing Government Documents  Exercises
  • Objectives By the end of this session, you will be able to:  Identify when you might  Describe Regulations and want to use government know when to use it documents  Identify a source for finding  Identify a source for court decisions locating federal laws &  Locate a court decision regulations  Locate a government  Locate a federal law or report in the library catalog regulation on a specific and find it on the shelf topic  Locate guidelines for citing  Describe the Federal a government document Register and know when to use it  Describe the U.S. Code and know when to use it
  • Where do government documentscome from?All branches of government: Legislative (Congress)  Makes laws Executive (President & federal agencies – FDA, EPA, CDC, etc.)  Experts that make regulations to implement laws Judicial (court decisions)
  • Some Types of GovernmentDocuments Laws Regulations Reports Statistics Websites Databases Brochures Forms (FAFSA, tax forms, etc.)
  • Why Use GovernmentDocuments? Primary sources (first-hand information) Current and historical Reliable Usually free Great for statistics and information on current/social issues
  • Laws, Regulations, &Congressional Documents FDsys  free online access to official Federal Government publications  Stands for “Federal Digital System”  Mostly laws, regulations and Congressional debates and documents  Not currently good for reports  Still adding more collections  See “Featured Collections” for most popular (browse only – use search box on homepage to search)
  • Federal RegisterNotice
  • Federal Register (FR) Daily “newspaper” telling you what federal agencies (EPA, CDC, FEMA, etc.) are up to Required to notify the public through the Federal Register before finalizing regulations Tells you what’s being planned & how to comment Also used to announce grants Advocacy groups monitor FR for issues to comment on and new grant opportunities
  • Regulations.gov Submit comments on proposed federal agency actions/regulations online www.regulations.gov Bad I think this is great! idea!
  • United States Code Contains the permanent laws of the United States Legislative branch of government Divided by broad subjects into 50 “titles” Titles are arranged by topic Access through FDsys
  • Court Decisions Available in LexisNexis U.S. and state supreme courts LN only includes cases involving the entire population of the state or country (i.e., cases about state laws, etc. - NOT ones like the Michael Jackson murder case)
  • Court Decisions
  • Court DecisionsCan look up a case:• by citation, if you have it• By party • You only need to know one party • Can enter a party in either box, the order doesn’t matter• By topic/keyword (e.g., “intellectual property”)
  • Government Reports Education, health, environment, etc. Use library catalog to find these  Both print and online  Use power search  Select “Federal Documents” or “Louisiana Documents” under “Type”  Mostly links to electronic versions; some in print in the SUNO library
  • PowerSearch
  • SuDocs Number System Paper copies in the library are shelved according to SuDocs system Different from other library call number systems Typical call numbers look like this: L 2.3/4:998-99 Beginning letter(s) treated alphabetically  Abbreviation for government agency that published it 3 points to remember…
  • SuDocs Shelving System 1. The dot “.”is not a decimal point! All numbers are whole numbers.  Example: L 2.3/4:998-99  “3” is the whole number 3, not 3 tenths Decimal Order SuDoc Order D 1.1: D 1.1: D 1.12: D 1.3: D 1.122: D 1.12: D 1.3: D 1.33: D 1.33: D 1.122:
  • SuDocs Shelving System2. Nothing comes before something D 1.1: comes before D 1.1:2000
  • SuDoc Shelving System3. If the call number is the same to a certain point, then varies, the order is: Years, Letters, Numbers. Years/Letters/Numbers Order Example 1 Example 2 A 1.35:993 EP 1.23:998 A 1.35:R 42 EP 1.23:A 62 A 1.35:R 42/995 EP 1.23:91-44 A 1.35:R 42/2 EP 1.23:600/998-103 A 1.35:321 EP 1.23:600/R-98-23
  • Citing Government Documents In most cases, the issuing agency is the author (rather than an individual) See the University of Memphis Brief Guide to Citing Government Publications
  • Exercises1. Go to FDsys and locate a resource of interest to your advocacy group2. Use the SUNO eLibrary catalog to find a federal document on your topic. If it’s a paper copy, find it on the shelf (with help if needed).
  • Questions? Kate Dougherty, Electronic Resources & Government Documents Librarian kdougherty@suno.edu 504.286.5222