Government Documents Section
What is a government document?

A government document is a publication issued by or for a government agency. It looks just like a book or journal except that the author or publisher is a government agency--for example, the U.S. Department of Labor.

Government documents come in all formats: print, online, CD, and microfiche or microfilm.

How do I cite a government document in APA or MLA style?

Citation generator for APA and MLA format. DocsCite is a step-by-step guide to putting government publication citations into proper style format.

Brief Guide to Citing Government Documents
Format and examples for citing Federal Register, hearings, Statutes at Large, U.S. Reports, online sources, and more.

Style Manual: Government Printing Office
Official guide to the form and style of Federal Government printing (2008, 30th ed.)
Where are the government documents located in the Library?

While viewing the catalog record, check the LOCATION to find where a document is shelved.

Most government documents are located in the Government Documents Section, 3rd Floor North.

Within the Government Documents Section, there are 4 separate collections:

  • U.S.
  • California
  • International
  • City/County/Regional

These 4 areas are clearly marked on the 3rd Floor.

A few government documents are located in the Reference Section, 1st Floor South. Examples of government documents that are shelved in the Reference Section are U.S. Reports (Supreme Court opinions) and Statistical Abstract of the United States.


What subjects are in the Government Documents Collection?

Government documents have been published on just about every subject. Pollak Library collects documents in all subject areas that support the CSUF academic curriculum. Business statistics, census data, endangered species reports, cancer research, child abuse, crime, gangs, human cloning, immigration, teen pregnancy, and youth violence are subjects that are especially well covered in the Government Documents Collection. Congressional hearings, public laws, Surgeon General reports, and Supreme Court opinions are included in the collection.

How do I find government documents on my topic?

To find government documents in Pollak Library:

Search the Library Catalog by keyword, title, subject, or author and then, while viewing the results list, change the default from All Collections to Government Documents Collections Only.

Note: Many recent documents that are found in the Library Catalog include links to full text online. If there is a link Access on Internet, click on this link to retrieve the document online.

To find Census 2000 publications:
See the CSUF Library research guide Census 2000.

To find government periodical articles and reports:
If you know the title of the government periodical, go to Government Periodicals and select the specific journal.

You can also use several electronic databases to locate documents. For example, Academic Search Premier provides full-text access to several U.S. government periodicals including Alcohol Research & Health, FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, and FDA Consumer. Congressional Universe includes legislative histories, current bill tracking, Congressional Record, and Federal Register.

To find the many government publications that are freely available to the general public on the Internet: GPO ACCESS( Multi-Database Search) provides full-text access to many government documents. Also, try a search engine that retrieves government documents. Two excellent search engines are Google Uncle Sam at and at

Ask a librarian to recommend the best databases for finding documents on your specific topic.

Can government documents be checked out?

Many government documents can be checked out. But, as a general rule, any document that is mostly statistics or that is issued as a periodical (monthly or annually) is not allowed to be checked out.

To find out if a document can be checked out, check the STATUS on the Library Catalog record.
    If the STATUS is CHECK SHELVES, the document can be checked out.
    If the STATUS is LIB USE ONLY, it cannot be checked out.
Or look at the inside back cover: If there is a red stamp NOT FOR CIRCULATION near the barcode, the document cannot be checked out.

Many recent documents are freely available online and are readily accessible from your home computer. If a catalog record shows a link Access on Internet, click on the link to view the document.

Documents are checked out on the First Floor at the Self-Checkout machine or at the Circulation Desk.

How are government documents arranged on the shelf?

U.S. and California documents are shelved by government department. The first letter of the call number is the first letter of the department that issued the document. A call number starting with 'A' indicates that the document was issued by the Department of Agriculture.

International documents are shelved by subject. They are cataloged by LC call numbers, the same call number system used in the Main Collection.

What are some important government documents?
Where do government documents come from?


U.S. Documents
Pollak Library is one of 1250 libraries in the United States designated as a Federal Depository Library. The Federal Depository Library Program was established by Congress in 1813 to guarantee the public free access to government information. The documents are received free of charge, but Pollak Library must provide access, storage, equipment, and reference service. Pollak Library receives about 50% of the documents issued by the federal government. Selection of documents is based on the needs of the academic curriculum and the needs of the local community. Documents are distributed to depository libraries in all formats: print, microfiche, CD-ROM, and online. Pollak Library staff provide access to depository collections and assist the public in navigating the Federal information infrastructure.

California Documents
Pollak Library is also a participant in the California Depository Library Program, a similar program at the state level.

City/County/Regional and International Documents
City/County/Regional Documents and International documents are requested from government agencies.

How do I get more help?

For assistance in finding documents, go to Ask A Librarian.

If you would like an appointment for a research consultation, go to Ask A Librarian and click on Make An Appointment.

Catherine Kaye
The contact information should load momentarily.

If it fails to load you can load this information by using the link below.

launch contact info

Pollak Library California State University Fullerton
800 N State College Blvd | Fullerton, CA 92834-4150
PH: 657.278.2633 | FX: 657.278.2439