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Government Documents

Librarian-curated guide for finding and using Government Documents

Special Collection: Government Docs

Photograph of the Government Documents collection in the Hekman Library.

The Hekman Library has been a depository for United States federal documents since 1967 and for Michigan state documents since 2003. These materials are currently stored in the moveable stacks on the 2nd floor of the library and include reports, data, minutes, and other papers. 

Tips for Searching/Browsing

If you're using the library catalog, you can limit your search to government documents. In the regular search box, use the Limits options to change the location from "In Hekman Library" to "Government Documents." You can also use the Advanced Search option and select Government Documents as an item type.

Typical subject headings that will be found in government documents catalog records are:

The government documents collection is shelved according to the Superintendent of Documents classification schedule.  At first glance the call numbers are pretty intuitive, because most call numbers begin with a letter (or letters) that represent the department or agency issuing the document. Here is a complete list:

Letter Subject
A Agriculture
C Commerce
E Energy
ED Education
L Labor
LC Library of Congress
NAS NASA
S State
T Treasury

A few that are less intuitive are

AE Laws and Regulations
X and Y Congress

The rest of the call number is a series of numbers and punctuation that represent further subdivisions of the agency, the type of publication, the year of publication, etc.  Please ask for assistance at the Research Assistance Desk if you are trying to find a document on the shelf and cannot locate it.

The Michigan documents are shelved according to the Library of Congress classification system, as are the books in the library's main collection.

Access Policies and Formats

  • All depository items shall be made accessible to the general public, especially those residing in the third congressional district of Michigan, as well as to the students and staff of the Calvin community. Since the government documents collection is considered a reference collection, documents do not circulate except with special permission from a reference librarian
  • The Hekman Library provides access to the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Electronic Collection to all users of the library, which includes residents in the Third Congressional District as well as members of the Calvin academic community - use of the FDLP Electronic Collection is free and unrestricted (see the the library’s “Computer Access Policy”)
  • The Hekman Library currently has several public workstations which guests may use freely, with only a small charge for printing. See the library's Guest Policies for how guests may use public workstation computers and obtain a guest printer card
  • The Hekman Library, as a selective depository library in the Federal Depository Library Program, selects documents in various electronic formats (CD-ROM, diskettes, DVD, and Internet). The library makes every effort to provide documents in electronic formats according to the Recommended Specifications for Public Access Work Stations in Federal Depository Libraries
  • All the librarians at the Hekman Library are willing to help users access electronic government information. If the level of expertise required is above that of the reference staff members, a guest/patron may be referred to a specialist at another documents library, such as Grand Valley State University. A guide created by the documents librarian there offers a lot of helpful information.

Not Finding What You're Looking For?

Even if Hekman Library doesn't own a particular book or article that you need, you can borrow or get a copy from another library through our MeL and ILL sharing services. Just use the links below to search outside of Hekman's holdings and make requests - if you have any questions or problems, the librarians are always available to help!