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ERH 102 Writing and Rhetoric: Find Government Information

This guide is designed as a starting point for conducting research using Preston Library's resources.

Government Information

This library is a congressionally designated depository for U. S. Government Publications.  Public access to the government

documents collection is guaranteed by public law (Title 44 United States Code).

Find online documents from all branches of government @

Library Catalog

Find government publications by searching Preston Library's catalog @

Legislative Information

Introduction to Government Information

Preston Library is a selective Federal depository for U. S. government publications.  Designated in 1874 for the 6th Congressional District, the depository receives approximately 25% of all available items. The collection contains some publications of the Commonwealth of Virginia government.

The depository collects materials from the departments of Commerce, Defense, Environmental Protection Agency, Interior, Labor, and State.  There is a selection of legislative publications including congressional hearings and reports.  Preston Library provides the public with access to government information as well as research assistance.

Most of the printed publications are located on the 650 level, and are arranged by the Superintendent of Documents Classification System (SuDoc) call number which organizes publications by issuing agency rather than by subject. Other formats, such as microfiche, CDROMs and DVDs, are located in the Microform area on the 500 level.

U. S. government publications are cataloged and identified in the library catalog.  Documents on microfiche not included in the online catalog may be found by consulting the card catalog located outside the Reference Office. Locate online government information by accessing the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) web site at

For assistance in identifying and finding government information please contact Col. Janet S. Holly, Reference Librarian.


Use the following databases to find U. S. government publications:

Federal Laws & Regulations

To learn some of the basics about U.S. laws, regulations, and executive orders, and discover resources to find out more go to, or  Find out how laws are made and how to research them.

Government Publications = Primary Sources

Government publications "provide evidence of activities, functions, and policies at all government levels.  For research that relates to the workings of government, government documents are primary sources.  These documents include hearings and debates of legislative bodies; the official text of laws, regulations and treaties; records of government expenditures and finances; and statistical compilations of economic, demographic, and scientific data."  @

Examples of government publications located in Preston Library are: