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Government Information: Home

From Federal, State, and Local sources


Welcome to the Government Publications Department at San Francisco State University!

The J. Paul Leonard Library is one of 1300 Federal depository libraries that provide access to government information. It has been a selective federal depository library since 1955, and serves the 12th Congressional district. We select approximately 52% of available U.S. documents from the Government Printing Office (GPO). We also collect State of California documents and international documents from the United Nations.

Let us know if you need help, as our collection is not completely catalogued. Our contact numbers are: (415) 338-7325 and (415) 405-2517, or email Nina Hagiwara at

New Books

From the Government Book Talk blog:


Search for Federal Government Information

Books@the SFSU Library

Most of the books here have been reviewed in the Government Book Talk blog.

How to search for Government Information online

The main search engines for U.S. Government information are:

FDSys (Federal Digital System from the U.S. Government Printing Office)

FDSys provides access to official U.S. government publications from all three branches of government. It's more complicated to search than the Catalog of Government Publications, so the following tutorials may be helpful:

Basic Searching in FDSys

FDSys Educational Webinar Recordings. Most of these presentations are 1-1.5 hours long.
    -Introduction to GPO's Federal Digital System
    -Tracking Federal Regulation in FDSys
    -Navigating Government Information Using GPO's Federal Digital System
    -Advanced Navigation in GPO's Federal Digital System
    -Tracking Legislating in GPO's FDSys

Catalog of Government Publications (CGP, U.S. Government Printing Office)

"The CGP is the finding tool for federal publications that includes descriptive records for historical and current publications and provides direct links to those that are available online. Users can search by authoring agency, title, subject, and general key word, or click on 'Advanced Search' for more options." The Catalog of Government Publications has been superseded by FDSys, but it's still useful for searching for older publications. The U.S. Government's Official Web Portal

This website includes a detailed list of Federal, State, Local, and Tribal agencies, listed under the "Find Government Agencies" tab.



Google has quietly discontinued its U.S. Government (aka Google Uncle Sam) web search. There is no link on the Advanced Search page, and government information librarians noticed that it disappeared in mid-June 2011.

You can still use Google to find government information, by adding "site:gov" to your search. Or you could go to the Advanced Search and enter .gov in the "Search within a site or domain" box. Unfortunately, this will not replicate the old Google Uncle Sam search,which included state, county and military websites.

To search for California state documents, add "" to the end of the search.

For San Francisco City & County documents, add "" to the end of the search.

Quick guide to finding government documents at the SFSU Library

Government information comes from federal, state, and local sources and offers a broad array of information formats.

Think about the following questions:
   1. Do you need U.S., state, local, or international government information?
   2. Do you need a specific type of information (statistics, hearings, environmental impact statements, patents, laws, treaties, scientific information, etc.)?
   3. Are you searching for information or data from a particular time period?

How to limit your search to Government Publications at SFSU:

From the Library home page, click on Library Catalog, under the "Quick Links" on the left sidebar.

Then click on the Advanced Search tab, next to the search box.

Find the Location box and click on Government Collection. That will limit your search to items from the Government Publications collection.

U.S. documents have SuDoc numbers in the Call # column.

All items must be requested online.

Turnaround time is estimated to be ~20 minutes. Pick up books on the shelf past the Book Checkout desk on the first floor.

U.S. documents at the SFSU Library

The SFSU Government Publications colletion includes:

  • Congressional hearings from 1951-present
  • Large collections, such as the
    • Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS, 1861-present)
    • The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (OWR)
    • Congressional Record (1873-present)
    • United States Congressional Serial Set
  • Selected older documents: the collection includes documents from the early 1800s, some of them are in the InvestiGATOR catalog.

We are currently in the process of cataloging older print publications.  Some of them may be found via the Government Printing Office's Catalog of Government Publications

Call or email us for help in finding older documents.