Government Documents

Government Documents

Internet Resources

In addition to the paper and microfiche copies of government documents that are housed at Lydon Library on the 4th floor, there are a number of government resources available on the internet.

FAQs About UMass Lowell Government Documents

What are government documents?

A government publication is any informational material published by the U.S. federal government. The U.S. government, the most prolific publisher in the world, produces information on almost every subject, including business and the economy, the environment, social sciences, education, health, and labor. Government publications can provide information on a wide range of geographic areas and time periods. Common types of information are statistical and reference works, manuals, bibliographies, handbooks, indexes, reports, studies, and maps. Publications are produced in several formats, including book, pamphlet, periodical, microform, audiovisual formats, computer software, CD-ROM, and Internet sites.

What government documents does the Library have?

The UMass Lowell Libraries have been a selective federal depository library since 1954 and currently receives 25% of items available from the federal government. The collection includes approximately 50,500 paper items, 50,000 microfiche, and 300 CD-ROMs, and concentrates on items produced by the Departments of Commerce, Environmental Protection Agency, Education, Health and Human Services, Labor, the Offices of the President and Vice-President, and selected items from Congress.

Who can use the government documents at UMass Lowell?

All faculty, students and staff of the University, members of the 5th Massachusetts Congressional District, and members of the general public are provided library reference and referral services related to government documents. Assistance in using the collection is provided by the Reference Department.


How do I locate government documents?
  1. Use the GPO Catalog to identify relevant documents.
  2. Search by author, government agency and keywords.
  3. Mark and print out the items you want
  4. Documents in paper or microfiche are filled by the SuDocs No. on the 4th floor at Lydon Library.
  • Use Government Information Locator Service (GILS) to help identify and get descriptions of information resources throughout the Federal government, as well as assistance in obtaining that information.
  • Use Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe and Congressional Universe to access Federal and State Legal documents. statutes, regulations, and court decisions with commentary and cross-references pending and past Federal legislation.
For economic reports and statistics use:

For patent information use:

Use the Digital National Security Archives for full-text declassified national security documents.

Use MAGNET to access many Massachusetts state and local documents.

For international agencies use Also check out the Subject guide.

Where are the government documents located?

The government documents collection of paper is located on the 4th Floor of Lydon Library (North). The microfiche collection is on the 1st floor of O'Leary (South). Two computers located in the 1st floor reference area at O'Leary are available for information in CD-ROM format. A wide range of government information is also available through the Internet using the sources listed above.

Government publications are shelved according to the Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) classification system, which groups publications by issuing agency instead of by subject. If you can't find the publication you want, please keep in mind that the Library receives only 25% of what the federal government produces.

May I check out government documents?

Most government publications can be checked out, however, reference sources, CD-ROMs, and periodicals may be used only in the library.

What if the government document I need isn't available at UMass Lowell?

The Reference staff can help you determine where a publication is located. The Boston Public Library receives 100% of items published by the federal government. If no local library owns the publication, you may request it through InterLibrary loan if you are a UMass Lowell community member.

What if I have questions?

If you need help, please ask at the Reference Desk or call (978) 934-4554.


UMass Lowell Government Document Policies


The UMass Lowell Libraries participates in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) and offers the UMass Lowell community and general public unrestricted access to government information housed in the library and that which is available on the Internet.

Bibliographic access to most U.S. government publications is through the online GPO Monthly Catalog, the Library's Public Access Catalog, and other commercial indexes. Government periodicals are interfiled with non-government periodicals and selected government serials and monographs are given a Library of Congress Classification.


The UMass Lowell Libraries do not charge fees for the use of Internet-based government materials.


In accordance with the UML printing policy, printing of government materials from the Internet will be allowed for the on the same basis as any other Internet printing. Internet-based FDLP materials may be downloaded to a personal storage device.

UML Libraries does not use filtering software on the computers provided for public access.

Staff Support

The Head of Technical Services is the designated documents coordinator and is responsible for coordination with GPO and other library staff who work with documents. The Head Catalog Librarian is responsible for part-time student assistants and the technical aspects of acquiring, receiving, and cataloging documents. The Reference-Bibliographers are responsible for informing patrons, selection and evaluation of depository items, and instruction and assistance to users of government documents. The Access Services Librarian is responsible for maintaining the government documents stacks.


Collection Development Policy


Selection of publications available through the depository system is made by reference bibliographers and the Collection Development/Documents Librarian Criteria for selection of depository items include:

  1. Material on a topic which is of on-going concern in the curriculum or to local patrons.
  2. Material from an agency which is relevant to the curriculum or the locality.
  3. Material which is indexed in a source which is frequently used by library patrons.
Material which is indexed in a source which is frequently used by library patrons.

Evaluation of Item Number Selections

A periodic evaluation of selections by item number is made by the reference bibliographers to determine if titles being received are relevant. The library cannot afford to handle and shelve materials which are not used.

The online circulation system will permit us to evaluate the use of documents by SuDocs stems. This information will also be used to refine our item selections.

Retention of Titles

Periodic review of cataloged and partially cataloged items is made after the five-year retention period when lists of titles we wish to withdraw are prepared for the Regional Depository. Criteria used in retention decisions include: recorded use of the material; perceived permanent importance of the material to the library's primary clientele; whether the document is part of a major set or series; and/or whether the document is indexed in one of the primary government document bibliographic tools. Routinely withdrawn are: superseded editions or outdated material covered by other sources; technical material beyond the interests of our clientele; and material which has not circulated and which is available in other depositories in the region.


Materials are collected in microfiche format when available and paper when not. The library also collects census and other relevant government statistical materials in CD-ROM format. Access to government materials on the Internet is a growing part of our provision of government information.

The library collects very few maps with the exception of the topographic quadrangle maps for Massachusetts. We have not had a demand for maps and are confident that surrounding depositories and Internet availability can supply any needed map.

Collection Parameters

The general library collection reflects the university curriculum. Subject fields which are most heavily represented are literature, history, health and administration, business economics, and education. government publications are collected mainly in the areas of education, health sciences, environmental science, political science, geology, economics, and social welfare.

For all materials, collection priorities are determined on a subject by subject basis and are under continual review by the Collection Development Librarian and the reference bibliographers in consultation with faculty liaisons. Primary emphasis is placed on acquiring current materials to support undergraduate and master's programs. Duplicate copies are purchased only in subjects where there is heavy demand.

Collection Level by Agency

  • Congress -- C
  • Agriculture -- D
  • Commerce -- C
  • Defense -- D
  • Education -- C
  • Energy -- C
  • Geological Survey -- C
  • Health & Human Services -- C
  • Housing & Urban Development -- D
  • Interior -- D
  • Justice -- C
  • Labor -- C
  • Public Health Service -- C
  • National Institute of Health -- C
  • State Department -- D
  • Treasury -- D
  • Transportation -- D
  • Civil Rights Commission -- D
  • Library of Congress -- C
  • NASA -- D
  • National Archives -- D
  • Presidential -- C
  • National Science Foundation -- C
  • Securities and Exchange -- C
  • Small Business -- C
  • Smithsonian Institute -- D
  • Central Intelligence Agency -- D
  • The Levels are those used nationally to define library collecting levels and generally represent undergraduate and master's program teaching collections.

    Non-Depository Document Materials

    Non-depository titles are acquired on an ad-hoc basis when the subject of these documents warrants, from the publishing agency or from GPO using our deposit account, as well as from document on-demand services. Most requests for non-depository titles are met through interlibrary loan. The library subscribes to all ERIC reports. These documents from 1993 to the present are available electronically via the library's web page. Individual orders for documents can also be made online through EDRS.