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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

Call Numbers (SuDocs)

The James E. Brooks Library is a member of the Federal Depository Library Program and the Washington State Depository Library Program.  We use the use the Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) classification system for all federal government publications.

Call Numbers:

  • Federal Government Publications use SuDocs Numbers that are arranged by the Governmental agency that produced the item, rather than the subject of the published work.  SuDocs classification numbers are explained in the Federal Government Section. U.S. government publications are received through the Federal Depository Program (FDLP).
  • Maps are shelved using a variety of classifications depending upon how they were received.  Topographic maps are filed alphabetically by quadrangle name.
  • Microform call numbers begin with MM-(microfilm); MH-(microfiche); MP-(microprint).  Microformat items from the Federal Government will be classified using the SuDoc system.




The Superintendent of Documents classification system (SUDOC) is used to organize Federal Government published materials.  The following make up a SUDOC call number:

  • letters
  • numbers (treated numerically)
  • periods (NOT a decimal point)
  • Other punctuation (Slashes, Colons, & Dashes)

Most classification deal with the items content; SuDocs deal with the items authorship, as in the creating Federal agency. For example, call numbers beginning with the letter A are published by the Agriculture Department, C for Commerce, D for Defense, etc. These are not always mnemonic, and there are some two and three letter designation, notably NAS for NASA.


  • Government Publications range from 1-page pamphlets to large sets of Compact Disks.
  • Materials come as books, periodicals, maps, leaflets, photographs, digital files, posters, and more.
  • Information may be available on paper, microform, disk, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, video, or online.  Most materials today are born digital.

Citing Government Publications

Citing government publications for the most part is like citing any other resource. You first need to determine if it is a monograph (a book) or a serial (ongoing publications).  Most style guides will use the same criteria as books and serials.  If they do not, then they use the same criteria for legal resources such as the Bluebook style.

There are two published manuals devoted to government publications.

1. The complete guide to citing government documents: a manual for writers & librarians. (1983).  Diane L. Garner and Diane H. Smith. Docs Reference 3rd Floor   Z7164.G7 G37 1984

2. The complete guide to citing government information resources : a manual for writers & librarians. (1993).  Diane L. Garner and Diane H. Smith.  4th floor Z7164 G7 G37 1993  

Cornell University has a wonderful blog describing how to cite government publications using MLA and APA.

Indiana University at Bloomington has a terrific overview guide describing in detail how to cite the different forms and formats of government publications.