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Government Documents - A Guide to the Collections: Federal Documents Collection

Government Documents Collection home page, with links to guides about our holdings of U.S. and intergovernmental publications and related electronic resources.

About the Federal Documents Collection

This library is a congressionally designated depository for U.S. government documents. Public access to the government documents collection is guaranteed by public law (Title 44 United States Code). In order to make goverment information easily and freely accessible to the citizens of the United States, the Government Publishing Office has designated over 1,200 federal depository libraries throughout the United States and its territories.  Depository libraries may be found  in federal agencies, service academies, law schools, state appellate courts, public libraries and in academic libraries (both state-supported and private).

Administered by the Superintendent of Documents, there are two kinds of depository libraries: regional and selective. There are currently 47 regional depositories nationwide that receive and retain permanently all  publications distributed by the Federal Depository Library Program, thus ensuring comprehensive government documents collections for their respective regions. The regional library provides interlibrary loan and reference service to both depository and nondepository libraries in its region.  Selective depositories are not required to receive and retain all government publications.  In addition to a basic collection, they may choose those items that are best suited for their primary clientale as well as the general public in their Congressional district.  All depositories are open to the public for free use.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa Hamilton Library has been a  federal depository since the establishment of the university in 1907 and in 1977 was designated the regional depository for Hawaii and the Pacific. It is the largest and most comprehensive depository collection in the region. There are also seven selective depository libraries in the state of Hawaii and four in the Pacific outlying areas of American Samoa, Guam, amd the Federated States of Micronesia.

Federal documents are arranged on the shelves according to the Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc) classification system rather than the Library of Congress system used by the rest of the library. The SuDoc system arranges books by the agency which produced them. Please feel free to ask for assistance in locating documents.

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Gwen Sinclair
2550 McCarthy Mall, Honolulu HI 96822