Government (U.S.)

This guide has links to Federal governmental resources.

Federal Depository Library

Depository Library LogoColorado State University Libraries  is a selective Federal depository library. The library at CSU became a depository for materials from the Government Printing Office in 1903.  The federal documents collection now totals approximately one million print pieces, and over 70,000 maps and thousands of electronic publications, which can be searched for in the library catalog. CSU Libraries selects 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 the entire public.

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

Government Information

Here are some suggested online locations to begin your search for government information:

Govinfo ( Discover U.S. Government Information. ( 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.

CRS Reports. Just made available to the public for the first time September 19, 2018, these excellent resources provide a thorough overview of subjects. Requestors are members of Congress.

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 major online gateway 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

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.

Government Resources via CSU Databases (CSU Affiliates Only)

Remote access to these databases is via CSU eID.

Catalog of U. S. Government Publications. 1976- .

"The CGP is the finding tool for federal publications that includes descriptive information for historical and current publications as well as direct links to the full document, when available. Users can search by authoring agency, title, subject, and general keywords, or click on "Advanced Search" for more options."

Congressional Publications. 1789- .

This is a database of hearings, committee prints, reports, documents and other Congressional resources. Provides full text of hearings and citations and selected full text for other publication types. Primary source content on subjects ranging from war and military incursions to nuclear energy, space exploration, terrorism, and human rights.

Legislative Insight.

Highly selective, so not every topic included. Comprised of PDFs of full-text publications generated in the course of congressional lawmaking. Each history includes the full text of the public law itself, all versions of related bills, law-specific Congressional Record excerpts, committee hearings, reports, and prints. Also included are presidential signing statements, CRS reports, and miscellaneous congressional publications that provide background material to aid in the understanding of issues related to the making of the law.

Statistical Abstract of the United States. 2013-2019 year by year (CSU library database). Freely available online Statistical Abstracts 1878-2012 (print available in Morgan Library Government Reference C 3.134 Doc Ref)

A comprehensive collection of statistics on the social, political, and economic conditions of the United States.

Serial Set

American State Papers. 1789-1838.

Contains the legislative and executive documents of the first 14 U.S. Congresses. The collection includes documents that cover the critical historical gap from 1789 to the printing of the first volume of the U.S. Serial Set in 1817.

United States Congressional Serial Set. 1817-1994.

All the reports, documents, and journals of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives from 1817-1994. Covers subjects ranging from slavery in Antebellum America and the expansion of the American West and the impeachment of presidents to the founding of the United Nations, public and private legislation, and more.

See full list of government databases listed in Databases A-Z (includes many on the free Web and listed elsewhere on this 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 such as the Food, Energy, Water, Datasets, and Informaciόn en español (including information in boxes about Federal agencies) were created by Professor Naomi Lederer, and are maintained by Jocelyn Boice, the current federal depository coordinator for the library.

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