Government Information

This guide has links to Federal, State, and Local governmental resources.

Government Information

FDLP eagle image This guide will help you find information published by selected agencies of the federal and local governments in the United States of America (USA). Suggested online locations to search for government information 24/7 are:

Govinfo               Discover U.S. Government Information. Beta release.

FDsys                Official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government. Platform getting phased out; Govinfo (listed just above) replacing it. Currently by end of 2018.         Gateway to U.S. Federal Science.    Official website for U.S. federal legislative information.                    Guide to government information and services.

Selected government resources are highlighted via the Federal agencies, Federal topics, Colorado Government, and Local City County tabs found on the left-hand side of this page.

For further assistance, contact CSU's Government Information Librarian, Naomi Lederer  or (970) 491-0593.

Also available to student and faculty researchers (and the public) is Government Information Online: Ask a Librarian (these Librarians are not at CSU).

Introduction to Government Information

Government resources can be an extremely valuable part of anyone's research. National, state, and local governments produce massive numbers of publications that contain overall reliable content that is the "official" output of the agency that created it. While government resources, like all others, should never be plagiarized, they are more freely available for duplication and distribution than nongovernmental items. Nongovernmental items often have copyright restrictions.


In the United States of America, the national level of government is called the Federal government. The primary resource for Federal publications (aka documents) is the US Government Publishing Office. The wide range of materials can be a gold mine for facts, statistics, results of in depth research studies, and more. For the most part these items are freely available to the general public--and researchers. A growing number of Federal documents are available online. Most new publications are available in electronic format only.

The Federal government is broken up into three sections, called branches: Executive (President), Legislative (Congress: Senate and House of Representatives), and Judicial (Supreme Court). Correspondingly, there are print and online resources that are created by these branches. Materials are located within the agency that produced it, not by topic. Thus a researcher interested in a particular topic may find information on it from multiple agencies or departments.

The two major online gateways to Federal information can be found via:


Do searches on these sites to identify specific resources of interest. The search results will often send you to an agency Web site that contains the actual information. There is no one site with Federal government information--it is widely spread out among numerous sites. (Note: should the government shut down for any reason, many of these sites are not available.)

State: Colorado

Each state has its own governing body. The Governor serves as the head of the Executive Branch. Each state has its own legislative body and judiciary.

Colorado Official State Portal

This site (possibly commercial) has links to US State and Local governments:
State documents, unlike Federal, are not necessarily in the public domain. To see a graphic depiction of probable copyright for each state in the US, see this handy chart created by Harvard Library. Colorado is presumptively copyrightable, in other words, Colorado documents are generally not in the public domain and thus not readily available for duplication and distribution.


Local government is elected (or appointed) locally and is responsible for subsets of each state. Publications from this level of governments are fewer, but nevertheless important and relevant to people living within (or near) their boundaries.

County: Larimer

City: Fort Collins

Colorado State University Libraries and Government Information

Colorado State University Libraries (CSUL) is a selective Federal depository library. In other words, CSUL selects only those titles believed to be helpful to local researchers (defined as CSU affiliates and citizens who live in Colorado Congressional District 2). Nevertheless, government publications are available to all researchers be they local or not. Those coming from afar will want verify CSUL ownership of specific items before making a trip to campus by looking in the library catalog. Many electronic Federal documents may be accessed remotely via the catalog.

In addition to Federal resources, CSUL has a selection of State of Colorado publications on site. Use of the Colorado Official State Portal is recommended for recent Colorado information.

Find Government Documents in Print or Electronic at CSU Libraries

Government documents available through the CSU Libraries are fully cataloged. They are shelved under Superintendent of Documents Classification, a separate call number system that's based on federal agency. For example, documents published by the Department of the Interior will be shelved under call numbers beginning with "I". The University of Denver has a detailed breakdown of the classification system that allows you to Browse the Government Documents Stacks. Looking through these will help researchers understand how government information is arranged.

After doing a search in PRIMO, limit by Location (left hand side; you will probably need to scroll down to see it):

Location in PRIMO

Docs Ref has items in Documents Reference on the first floor of Morgan Library; Documents are on the South side of the Lower Level (basement) in compact shelves; Elec Media Docs are on the 2nd Floor on the North end of the Journal Room area, and Internet Docs are available online.

US and Colorado History

Researchers doing historical research may find these research guides helpful. They include resources from governmental and nongovernmental sources. Some of the governmental resources are via CSU Library databases that can only be accessed remotely by CSU affiliates. Non-affiliates must visit Morgan Library (see directions) in person to access these materials via a community or guest account.

United States of America (History)

Colorado History

See additional subsets of US (and other places around the world) history on the History research guide.

Authorship Note

Most of the content in the Federal Resources by Agencies, Federal Resources by Topic, and much of the Colorado Publications was chosen and annotated by Mike Culbertson, Mary Seaman, and Doug Ernest. This page and other pages within this guide (including information in boxes about Federal agencies) are by Naomi Lederer, the current Government Information Librarian.

Author Information

Content: Naomi Lederer