Library 101: Government Documents

Posted on: Tuesday, November 24th, 2015 by Jody Hanshew

In addition to our collections of regular circulating books and multimedia materials, Kelly Library also has a government documents collection (located on the ground floor), and is a Federal Depository Library.

The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) was established by Congress to ensure that the American public has access to its Government's information. Since 1813, depository libraries have safeguarded the public's right to know by collecting, organizing, maintaining, preserving, and assisting users with information from the Federal Government. The FDLP provides Government information at no cost to designated depository libraries throughout the country and territories. These depository libraries, in turn, provide local, no-fee access to Government information in an impartial environment with professional assistance.

As institutions committed to equity of access and dedicated to free and unrestricted public use, the nation's nearly 1,250 depository libraries serve as one of the vital links between "We the people" and our Government. Anyone can visit Federal depository libraries and use the Federal depository collections which are filled with information on careers, business opportunities, consumer information, health and nutrition, legal and regulatory information, demographics, and numerous other subjects.

Kelly Library has been a government document depository library for over 100 years. It contains over 100,000 paper and microfiche publications produced by the federal government and distributed through the Federal Depository Library Program.  These publications can be found by searching in Holston Associated Libraries' Online Catalog. The Library’s selection percentage of government documents through the FDLP is currently just under thirty percent.

Documents selected by Kelly Library include the Public papers of the President, the Congressional Record, House and Senate Journals, and the official reports of the Supreme Court. There are also statistical sources such as Statistical Abstracts of the U.S., Agricultural Statistics, and the Digest of Education Statistics. There are periodicals such as Special Warfare and Economic Indicators.  We also receive government document maps from the CIA and National Forest Service (housed on the main floor in the map collection).

The FDLP also provides access to many useful online government documents and websites. Here are a few that might be helpful in your research.

American Factfinder ( - American FactFinder provides access to data about the United States, Puerto Rico and the Island Areas. It includes a guided search to lead you step by step to the statistics you need.

Census Bureau ( – This site contains statistics on population, housing and social characteristics, the economic census, projections, maps and more. For older statistics that are not online, the library has many census volumes in print as well.

Library of Congress ( – In addition to providing information about the physical library's services and collections, the LoC site has digitized primary source materials ranging from Presidential correspondence to sound recordings and film.

Chronicling America ( - Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present.

Fedstats ( – Fedstats provides access to the full range of official statistical information produced by the Federal Government without having to know in advance which Federal agency produces which particular statistic. This includes such topics as economic and population trends, crime, education, health care, aviation safety, energy use, farm production and more.

CIA World Factbook ( - The Factbook provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for countries and territories around the world.

There are many more government resources, both in print and online, that might be useful to your research (or in your daily life). For more information, check out the Government Documents section of the Kelly Library website (

Add Pingback