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Basic Resources for Finding U.S. Government Documents

This guide lists resources for locating U.S. government documents.

What are Government Documents?

A U.S. government document is simply any publication produced by a U.S. governmental agency. Our collection of over two million documents includes legislative hearings, statistical reports, maps, census records, federal regulations, court decisions, agency publications, posters, pamphlets and more.

The general public are encouraged to use government documents in the library or request them by interlibrary loan through their home library. Special requests regarding access to the materials must be made with a government information librarian.

SuDoc Classification System

Government documents are arranged by special call numbers established by the Superintendent of Documents, known as the SuDoc classification system. In the SuDoc system, government publications are grouped together by issuing agency rather than by subject, so all publications from a particular government agency or department are shelved together. The first part of a SuDoc number represents the government agency that created the document.


Food For Us All. 1969. Location: UMCP McKeldin Library U.S. Government Information SuDocs A 1.10:969.

You can find the current lettering for the SuDoc classification system at the GPO's website.


Government documents at the University of Maryland are available in various formats, including text, microform, CD-ROMs and DVDs. Microfiche and microfilm must be viewed on microform readers in the library, but CD-ROMs, DVDs and other videos may be borrowed for up to three days from the 1st floor Information & Research Services Desk.

Government information on microform can be found either in the Government Information area of the 4th floor of McKeldin Library or on the first floor, at the rear of the library (see "Microforms" on the 1st floor map below). See a floor plan of McKeldin Library here.


To Find Congressional Hearings

You can locate Congressional Hearings in a few steps:

1. Once you've located a hearing of interest in the Catalog, note the hearing's SuDoc number (call number)--it will begin with Y4--and the Congress in which it took place. The date of the hearing will indicate the Congress. You can use the charts posted in the Y4 area on the 4th floor to convert dates to Congresses.


1887-1889  50th Congress

1987-1889  100th Congress

2. Locate the appropriate Congress (e.g., 100th Congress) in the Y4 area of the SuDoc stacks.

3. Within the appropriate Congress, search for the hearing by call number.

U.S. Serial Set

The U.S. Serial Set is a compiled collection of all U.S. Government publications beginning with the 15th Congress, 1st session, in 1817. Documents before 1817 can be found in the American State Papers. See this libguide on Federal Legislation for details about locating the Serial Set and American State Papers at McKeldin Library and online.