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Government Information

gateway to government information in the Blume Library and on the web

Location of the collections

US classification numbersOur printed Federal documents are shelved next to the Periodicals on the 2nd Floor of the Library. Texas documents are at the end of the row of shelves.

signsThe rows of shelves containing government publications are identified by blue end-panel signs which give the range of numbers shelved on each row. The largest section of the collection is classified Y 4., which refers to Congressional Committees. 

Some other documents, in other formats or otherwise set apart, are located in other parts of the Library:

  • Microfiche. These documents are filed (by Superintendent of Documents classification number) in cabinets on the west side of the Library's 2nd floor. Very few titles are currently being received in microfiche.
  • CD-ROMS/DVDs. These materials are kept on Reserve and can be checked out for seven days by St. Mary's students, faculty, and staff. Ask for them at the Circulation Counter, or contact the Documents Librarian. Many of the CDs selected by the Blume Library contain Census information, but other agencies are also represented. Few CDs are currently being received as this information is largely available through websites instead.

NOTE:The Blume Library ceased receiving new tangible government documents in Spring 2016. Also, the Library withdrew large numbers of tangible documents during the previous year.

Nature of the collection

Depository Library

The depository system: Federal publications

St. Mary's University's Blume Library has been a selective Federal Depository Library (FDL) for U.S. government publications (or documents) since 1964, one of over 1000 such libraries nationwide. (The Law Library is also a depository, with a more specialized collection.) We select various categories of publications which are "deposited" here by the Government Publishing Office.

The printed output of almost every Federal agency is represented in the collection but we have concentrated on publications from the Census Bureau, Labor and Justice Departments, and the Congressional Committees. The majority of items in the collection are Congressional. Although most material in the Collection was published in the 1960s or later, we do have some older items.

TexasThe depository system: Texas publications

The Library was also a depository for Texas government publications and has a collection of these documents from the State Library & Archives Commission in Austin. Note: As of July 2011, the Texas Depository Program ceased due to budget cuts at the State Library. We have kept the most important legacy documents received through the program, and continue to put links to online documents in the Library Catalog. The University of North Texas maintains a digital collection of all documents that would have been distributed through the depository program since its termination. 

San Antonio Documents

We have a very few publications from local governments. San Antonio documents are shelved at the end of the Texas documents. There has never been a depository system for these publications.

FDLPAll of the material in these collections, with a few minor exceptions, is represented in the Library Catalog.

Unless a document is specifically marked for reference use only, it may be checked out by St. Mary's students, faculty or staff at the Circulation Counter.  Other patrons may use the documents in the Library, or request them on interlibrary loan from their home institutions or a public library.

NOTE: The Blume Library ceased receiving new tangible government documents in Spring 2016.

How the collections are organized

Superintendent of Documents classification (SuDoc) is the classification system used to arrange the Federal documents collection.

These numbers follow the form: LETTER(S) NUMBER . NUMBER : LETTERS and/or NUMBERS

booksThe first letters in the classification number represent the government department or agency that issued the document. For example, A is for Agriculture Dept., C for Commerce Dept., ED for Education Dept., etc. Congress uses the letters X and Y.

SuDocs number example


Numbers following the initial letters represent a subsidiary office in the department. For instance, publications from the Census Bureau, which is in the Commerce Dept., have a number beginning with C 3. The numbers after the decimal point represent types or series of publications, or second and subsequent level offices.

Numbers immediately following the colon indicate numbered series, volumes or dates. Letters and numbers immediately following the colon are based on a system which organizes materials alphabetically by subject or title keyword, or numerically by issue or volume number.

Example of SuDocs numbers (in shelving order):  

  • C 3.24/8: IN 23
  • C 3.25: AF 48
  • NAS 1.2: FR 76
  • NS 1.53:990
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SuDocs classification number

Tips for finding items shelved or filed by SuDocs classification number:

checkThis is NOT a decimal system. Numbers between punctuation are treated as individual whole numbers. For example, here's another list in order:

  • D 1.2: EX 83
  • D 1.16: TO 75
  • D 1.23: NA 42
  • D 1.23/2: CR 76
  • D 1.23/2-3: AL 23
  • D 1.23/2-11: LI 45
  • D 1.142: LE 78
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Easy as FDL

checkIf some number stems (what comes before the colon) are followed by both numbered and lettered items, we usually shelve numbered documents before those designated with letters. An exception to this rule is in some House Committees in the Y 4. section. In these cases, in order to shelve older material first, letters come before numbers.

Senate Hearings and Prints (all classed Y 4. ) for the 98th and subsequent Congresses use special shelving rules. Documents are shelved (or filed) by S.HRG. (meaning Senate Hearing), then S.PRT. (meaning Senate Print) for each Congress by number. Here is an example sequence of these numbers:

  • Y 4.B 85/2: S.HRG.100-45
  • Y 4.B 85/2: S.PRT.100-37
  • Y 4.B 85/2: S.HRG.101-13
  • Y 4.B 85/2: S.PRT.101-20
blank image SuDocs classification example

Some of these numbers can look really long and intimidating! But just look for each part (separated by some punctuation) in order on the shelf.

Want more details on this numbering system? The Government Publishing Office, who assigns the SuDocs numbers to publications, provides this detailed explanation. Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) Classification System. Note: In the section, "Examples of SuDoc classification". some of the decisions about ordering details are different from the ones followed by the Blume Library.

Agencies - More about organization


Agencies—not necessarily subjects!

Because of the SuDoc classification arrangement, all publications from an agency (or Congressional Committee) will be found together on the shelf or in the microfiche drawer. Unfortunately, however, this system does not guarantee that all documents dealing with a particular subject will be found together. In order to find documents on a subject of interest, you must use the Library Catalog. 

In addition, reorganizations within government agencies are reflected in changes of Superintendent of Documents numbers, thereby occasionally scattering publications of a particular office or bureau over time.

Browsing can indeed turn up useful publications through serendipity. But it is not a reliable method of comprehensive research, especially in the Documents Collections.

Ask a Research Librarian for help if you can't find a number that you need.

TX graphicTexas numberTexas documents are also arranged using a similar system that groups publications by the issuing agency. These numbers are distinguished from the US documents numbers by a red TX in the vicinity of the number on the front of the document.

In the Library Catalog

Government documents can be located in the Library Catalog by using the same search features that are available for books—subject, keyword, author, classification number. 

In the results list produced by a search, the government publications are identified by the collection note in the Location column. Look for the classification number given in the Call # column:

search example from the Library Catalog showing the location and call number field

The Library Catalog contains full records (author, title, subject, notes, etc.) for thousands of electronic government publications.

example from the Library Catalog showing a URL / PURL

Catalog of Government Publications

note graphicCatalog of US Govern​ment Publications (1976–). This is the standard general index for Federal publications. It provides Superintendent of Documents classification numbers for documents published from July, 1976, to the present.

Older issues of the index are titled "Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications," and they are available in the Library. 

  • 1895-1934 are in microfilm on the 2nd floor
  • 1933-1976 (paper) are in storage. They may be retrieved for consultation; ask a Research Librarian, or contact the Documents Librarian if you need to use them.

If you find documents listed in the Catalog of Government Publications that are not available at the Blume Library or online, you can borrow them from another library through Interlibrary Loan.

If we don't have a document

depository library logo

Documents not held at St. Mary's may be borrowed from other libraries through Interlibrary Loan. If you have found a Superintendent of Documents classification number for a document you need to borrow, please include the SUDOC number on the ILL book form.

There are several other depository libraries in San Antonio. Staff at these libraries can tell you if they have a particular document if you give them the Superintendent of Documents classification number.