Since 1907, the University Library has been a United States Federal Depository Library and is the largest and most comprehensive in east-central Illinois. The Government Documents Library receives 90-95 percent of the U.S. government publications available through the Depository Library Program and selects further research materials for purchase. The United States Government is one of the most prolific and eclectic publishers in the world. The wealth of information produced by federal agencies comprises a valuable and incomparable collection of materials on the government's activities as well as on general and scientific topics. These resources are widely distributed and available to all citizens through a unique system of Depository Libraries. The Federal Depository Library Program gives the public free access to government information. Each year libraries select items from a list of more than 6,000 categories of publications and electronic products.
The University of Illinois Library began acquiring federal material before it was a depository library and, consequently, has 9251 volumes of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set (nearly a complete run), substantial holdings of nineteenth century congressional hearings, and older titles of government agencies. Other strengths of the collection include:
The location and classification of the collection varies, however, the following provides a simple explanation of the previous collection and classification habits. Prior to 1978, federal documents were classified in Dewey and distributed throughout the University's collection. Documents monographs and serials post-1978 were classified in Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc) classification system and housed in either the reference collection (room 200 D) or the book stack collection (5th floor west).