United States and Illinois Government Documents Collection - Collections

The collection is maintained by the Government Documents Library.

The University of Illinois Library has been a United Nations depository library since 1946, a United States Government depository library since 1907, and an Illinois Government depository library since the early 1950s, when the state depository program was formalized. It is also a Canada Government depository library. The collection supports the research and teaching needs, and the service mission of the University in a wide variety of disciplines. It is the government depository libraries of record for the State of Illinois’ land grant institution. It also functions as the oldest and largest academic depository library for residents in the surrounding congressional and legislative districts, and in the state. Specialized reference and instructional services, bibliographic control of the collections and web site development (see http://www.library.uiuc.edu/doc/), and the acquisition of government publications and related resources, largely by means of depository arrangements and also through paid subscriptions, form the basis of support. The publications of government agencies and intergovernmental organizations cover a broad range of subjects with particular emphasis on current affairs and public policy, government operations, legislation, regulation, the environment, science, technology, economics and trade, and socioeconomic subjects, as well as statistical data. The library also collects government-produced materials on general and popular topics, including consumer information. The holdings include over 200,000 monographs, 25,000 pamphlets, 1,500,000 microfiche, 4,000 CD-ROMs, and 15,000 serial titles. In addition, access is provided to over 200,000 electronic depository titles via the online catalog and the library web site. The Government Documents Library’s reference collection and select major series, the microfiche, and CD-ROMs are housed in the department’s public services area, Room 200 South, Main Library; most of the circulating print collection is housed in the Bookstacks – Government Documents, Main Library.

Version Date: April, 2005


I. Collection Description


To support the general research and teaching needs of the University in a wide variety of disciplines through specialized reference services and through the acquisition of federal and Illinois state publications largely by means of depository arrangements. The publications of state and federal agencies cover a broad range of subjects with a particular emphasis on current affairs, government operations, legislation, regulation, science, technology, and socioeconomic subjects. Although most publications fall into these subject areas, there are also government-produced materials on general and popular topics and in the humanities. Government documents from states other than Illinois and foreign government documents, and publications of intergovernmental organizations, and local government publications, are not the responsibility of the Documents Library.

History of Collection:

The University of Illinois Library has been a federal depository since 1907 and a depository for Illinois state publications ever since the state depository program was formalized. Documents were acquired at UIUC before the Library gained depository status and, because of these early acquisitions efforts, we have a nearly complete run of the U. S. Congressional Serial Set, substantial holdings of nineteenth century Congressional hearings, as well as older titles from other government agencies. We continue to supplement depository arrangements with other methods of acquisitions, in order to build as complete a research collection as possible of federal and Illinois state documents. Until January of 1980, when the Documents Library was established, federal and state documents were classified in the Dewey decimal classification and dispersed throughout the Library system. Before the creation of the Documents Library, documents acquisitions and processing activities were carried on by the Documents Division. This Division was part of the Acquisitions Department until 1964 when it became part of the Serials Department. In 1980, the federal and Illinois state acquisitions and processing functions of the Documents Division were transferred to the Documents Library; its international and other state documents processing and acquisitions functions were transferred to the Acquisitions Department. Documents Library has been part of Central Reference Services since 1981.

After the establishment of the Documents Library, the policy of cataloging federal and state documents was continued. Almost all federal depository monographs and new serial titles received since December 1979 and many received after November 1978 have been classified using the Superintendent of Documents classification and have been located in the Documents Library or the Documents bookstacks collection. Illinois state documents continue to receive Dewey classification and to be dispersed throughout the library system.

Estimate of Holdings:

42,500 volumes; 237,000 microfiche.

State, Regional and National Importance:

The University of Illinois Library is one of the older, more complete federal depositories and one of the few in which documents have always received full cataloging. Outside of the regional depository located at the Illinois State Library, UIUC has probably the most complete collection of federal documents in the state. Since our documents are cataloged and records for them appear in LCS (and, post-1975, in OCLO), we are well equipped to share our resources with libraries both within and outside of Illinois.

Unit Responsible for Collecting:

Documents Library.

Location of Materials:

Pre-1978 federal documents and all Illinois state documents are classified in Dewey and located in libraries throughout the system, including the Bookstacks. Almost all post-1978 documents, monographs and serials are located in the Documents Library, which contains two collections: its reference collection of 2,500 volumes and all depository microfiche (237,000 items), and its bookstacks collection of 40,000 volumes classified in the Central Superintendent of Documents classification system.

Citations of Works Describing the Collection:

Watson, Paula D. “Documents Reorganization at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,” Illinois Libraries (September, 1982): 1023-1026.

“Restructuring the Documents Function at a Major University Library: Implicationsfor Bibliographic Control and Access, Technical Services Ouarterly 2 (3/4) (Spring/Summer, 1985): 33-50.

II. General Collection Guidelines


Almost all federal and state government documents are in English.

Chronological Guidelines:

The emphasis is on current events and current research, although publications may cover all time periods.

Geographical Guidelines:

The emphasis is on the state and the nation, although the federal government, in particular, publishes much in relation to the other countries of the world.

Treatment of Subject:

Government publications range from the highly popular treatments to research materials. Our collection emphasizes research materials.

The Documents Library acquires everything of potential research value made available through the federal depository system in all fields of inquiry which are addressed by government publications. We are a 90 to 95 percent federal depository. The only major categories of documents excluded are obviously ephemeral items, second formats of items issued in dual format, staff newsletters of agencies meant for internal consumption, highly technical publications of an applied nature, and posters. We attempt to fill in gaps in depository distribution of research materials through independent acquisitions efforts. We are a full depository for Illinois state documents, but supplement depository distribution for research materials with additional acquisitions efforts. The Law Library is a full Illinois state document depository and an approximately 20-25 percent federal depository, selecting U. S. government publications according to the specialized needs of Law Library clientele. Departmental libraries duplicate U. S. and Illinois depository publications according to need in their own collections.

In addition to publications acquired free through depository arrangements, Documents funds are used to purchase materials of the following types: commercially-produced documents-related reference tools; duplicates of high-use items, whether they are reference tools or not; statistical source materials such as the American Statistics Index non-depository microfiche, and the Statistical Reference Index microfiche; and technical reports made available through the National Technical Information Service, including all reports with the prefix PB. This last policy has the effect of excluding technical reports supported by the Department of Energy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Defense Department contracts as well as some publications supported by contracts from various other agencies. Many reports from these agencies are, however, routinely received on deposit.

Types of Materials:

All formats: print, microform, maps. Posters are the only format systematically excluded. Print is generally preferred to microform, although in recent years many government documents are available only in microfiche. Investigation is currently underway at the National level regarding the feasibility of distributing various kinds of data in machine-readable form to depositories. The Documents Library would not consider the collection of this material to be beyond its scope, although none has been made available so far.

Date of Publication:

Standard statement. Most of what is acquired is current material, although microfiche replacements of older sets or retrospective materials to fill in gaps may be considered.

Place of Publication:

Almost all items collected are published in the U.S.

III. Collection Responsibility by Subject Subdivisions with Qualifications, Levels of Collecting Intensity, and Assignments

Below is a table that lists specific subject subdivisions within the collection. Each row in the table lists a specific subject subdivision, followed by three columns noting: Collection Strength, Primary Assignments and Secondary Assignments. The Existing Collecting Strength column notes how well the existing collection covers that topic on a 1 to 5 scale with 5 being very strong. The Primary Assignments column lists departmental libraries that have the greatest collection intensity of subject materials, respectively. In the case of 2 or more libraries listed, the collection intensity is comparable. The Secondary Assignments column list departmental libraries where additional materials may be found.

Government Documents Collection
Federal and state government directories 3 Documents
Federal and state produced statistics sources 4 Documents
Federal and Illinois documents of research value 4 Depository


Version Date: November 2005