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Government Documents

Using government documents--a guide

What is a Depository Library?

When searching for government documents, it is important to understand the role of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).

There are specific libraries across the United States who are members of the program and regularly recieve shipments of federal documents and are required to allow the public access to these documents. If a document that you are looking for is not on the internet, you may need to contact one of these libraries.

How to find the closest FDLP library? Click here.

This is the catalog of all US government publications. If a document was officially published by the Government Printing Office, check this catalog to find it.

The Census

The Census of the United States contains useful information about the population going back nearly to the origin of the nation. What most people tend to think of as 'the' Census is taken every ten years and contains a wealth of information about everything from the number of people covered under health insurance to housing prices in a particular area.

The Census Bureau has the 2000 and 2010 Censuses online, but further back it is necessary to use print resources or a specialized resource (See the Historical Information tab for details).

If you are looking for simple, recent statistics on an area, American Factfinder is most likely the best choice. It is a simplified version of the main census tables.

Loyola Marymount also has access to a database called SimplyMap, which allows users to access Census data and map it to a particular area or even census tract. You will have to create a free username in order to use SimplyMap, and there is a QuickGuide that may be useful to new users.

Census 2000 logo

Reproduced from the Census Bureau. April 13, 2009.

LMU Resources

Congressional Quarterly (known as CQ) publishes a number of valuable secondary sources on the activities of the U.S. government. See below for a selection, as well as a few databases through other companies.

Resources Beyond LMU