Public Services

Government Information Services, Access, and Collections Mission Statement

Government Information Services, Access, and Collections provides expert assistance in navigating the government information landscape, providing access to all formats of government information.  Using a wide range of tools, we provide assistance to researchers working in all disciplines, help people to locate difficult to find items, and make referrals to subject specialists when appropriate.

We support the educational mission of the university by approaching reference programs and services from an instructional perspective, and by fostering user independence and the development of information literacy skills.

We serve our diverse patron population indirectly by being their advocate on library technology and service initiatives and by selecting resources that benefit a wide range of researchers.  We further provide access to government information to the general public through our status as a United States Federal Depository Library.

We support the service mission of the university by extending the library’s reach to the local community and beyond, assisting users around the world and on our campus with our unique collections and through our commitment to free and ready access to government information.

Collection Use: General Policies

Government publication and information depository libraries agree to provide access and reference help to the general public free of charge.  All information in paper or electronic format obtained through the depository programs are open for use by both University of Illinois affiliated, as well as non-affiliated users.  For more information on the services we offer for information in electronic formats, see our Public Service Policy for Electronic Government Information.

Most of the circulating government publications in the University Library are housed in the Main Stacks.  For users of the Government Information collection who do not automatically have access to the Main Stacks (see Bookstacks Access for a list), permission to enter the Main Stacks for use of government information can be obtained at the Main Circulation Desk, or specific items can be requested at the Main Circulation Desk.

Materials checked out from the Main Stacks should be returned to them, or to the Main Library book drop. Fines and lost books from the Main Stacks should be dealt with through the billing office of the Central Access Services Department.

Government Information Services, Access, and Collections does not circulate microfiche, DVDs, CD-ROMs, or materials in the reference collection. Items checked out should be returned to the library to ensure proper discharge. Those with fines and lost books should contact Billing at (217) 333-8288.


We catalog the collection using the Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc), United Nations documentation, Canadian catalogue numbers, and Dewey classification systems.  Early U.S. Federal materials were classified in Dewey with a switch to SuDoc occuring around 1979.  SuDoc and UN documentation organize the publications by using a mix of letters and numbers.  The initial letters in SuDoc indicate the publishing agency, e.g. A=Department of Agriculture; ED=Education; Y=Congress.  The letter is followed by a number, which can indicate a department within the agency, e.g. A 13.=Forest Service, which is under the Department of Agriculture.

Similarly, UN documentation uses a letter to signify various bodies and subsidiary bodies followed by a succession of letters and numbers.  See Document Symbols: United Nations Documentation for a more complete research guide. Canadian and State of Illinois documents are cataloged using the Dewey classification system with the exception of Canadian publications and information in CDROM and DVD format, which are cataloged using the Government of Canada Catalogue Numbers.

Reference Help: On Site Reference

Reference services are provided through the Main Library Information Desk, accessible at 200 Main Library from 8:30am-10pm Mondays through Thursdays, 8:30am-6pm Fridays, 1pm-5pm Saturdays, and 1-11pm Sundays. Operating hours may vary during finals week or scheduled University vacation periods, and may be verified by checking the current Library Hours .

Online IM/Chat Reference

The Ask a Librarian service is available during the operating hours of the University Library, and is open to anyone with a question about government information whether or not they are affiliated with the University of Illinois.

E-mail Reference

You can e-mail your reference question (include name, e-mail, and question and/or description of research) through the UIUC Government Information e-mail reference form.  To assist us in answering your query, please provide as much information about the question as possible.  We will respond to you within one to two business days.