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Government Publications

Government Publications is a collection of materials put on deposit by the federal and state government for all citizens use free of charge and located on the Third Floor of the James E. Brooks Library. We encourage you to browse our collection whenever

What are government publications?

What are government publications?  It is defined in the U.S. Code (44 U.S.C. 1901) as "...informational matter which is published as an individual document at Government expense, or as required by law."  That does not really help, does it?  First, know that government publications are the same thing as government documents and government information.  The real difference is technology.  Government documents were solely print materials but as technology evolved and more tangible formats emerged like microformats and electronic formats, vendors and librarians began to use the term government publications to be more inclusive.  The law really did not change.  Government information began to be used as the digital world emerged.  Again, the law has yet to be changed to be inclusive.  CWU Brooks Library is a government depository library for federal and state government material.

The James E. Brooks Library is a Congressionally Designated Depository Library for U.S. Government documents.  Public access to the federal  depository collection is guaranteed by public law (Title 44 United States Code).  With the passage of the Federal Depository Act in 1962,  Catherine Dean May, the US Representative for our district, nominated our institution for that honor. We have been an official depository for U.S. government publications including maps since that time, receiving our fist delivery of documents in 1963.

We became a full depository for Washington State government publications in 1965.  As defined in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 40.06.010 (4) "State publication" means information published by state agencies, regardless of format, intended for distribution to state government or the public.  We receive materials in all formats including maps from the State Library of Washington.  These materials are currently being reclassed into the Library of Congress (LC) and moved into the main book stacks to make it easier for our users to access.

We currently receive physical copies of, and/or links to, about 37% of the publications that the GPO distributes and 100% that the Washington State Library has available.  We have also purchased historic sets in micro formats and have received many government publications as gifts.

One place you may always receive help with any government information research is Government Information Online (GIO) where librarians across the United States will assist you.

Below is a video for fun and to help explain the separation of powers a bit more.  In order to understand federal government publications, a basic understanding of the framework of the U.S. Government is invaluable.  How the three branches work together is fundamental.  An organizational chart of the U.S. Government which shows the three branches of government may be found in the U.S. Government Manual.  The U.S. Government Manual provides background on the federal government including leadership, agency activities, authority, and programs.  It also includes historical agency changes, quasi-agencies, boards, commissions, committees, international organizations, bilateral organizations, historical documents, and much more.


Congressional District 8 Map


Government Publications serves as a Federal Depository Library serving the needs of both Central Washington University and the 8th Congressional District.  We also serve the 13th Legislative District for the State of Washington served by Tom Dent (Position 1) and Alex Ybarra (Position 2)

Currently, the 8th District is represented in the U.S. Congress by Dr. Kim Schrier.   More information about her is available on her on her Congressional biography site.

Mission of Brooks Library Government Publications Services

The Federal depository at the Brooks Library serves several integrated yet unique communities.  As part of an academic institution, the library is dedicated to serving the information needs of the CWU students, faculty, and staff.  Our primary goal is the success of our students, thus the depository collects materials that support the university’s core programs within the colleges of Arts & Humanities, Business, Education & Professional Studies, and Sciences. The depository collection also emphasizes statistical, congressional, and legal materials which support disciplines across the curriculum.  We collect in all forms and formats to meet the needs of all constituents.

Within our obligations to the university, the depository equally serves the government information needs of the Eighth Congressional District and the local indigenous communities of Central Washington. Working with local leaders to maintain an awareness of the geographic and demographic characteristics of the surrounding areas, we provide access to federal and state publications which are of need and interest to this user group as well as to the CWU community.