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Government Information: Where Are the Documents?

This LibGuide provides basic information about how to find and use government documents in the Bowling Green State University Libraries, as well as government documents on the Internet or in databases.

Access to Government Documents

As a Federal Depository Library, the Bowling Green State University Libraries provide free access for the general public to the U.S. government publications collection, including through online resources. By using a community user accessible computer, the general public can view both online and locally held government information for free during all hours the Library is open.

Federal depository resources are available and usable for all library customers regardless of library affiliation, disability, age, residency, or other customer status.  Any member of the general public may use depository resources in all formats at a Federal depository library free of charge and without impediments.

For more information or assistance identifying and accessing government documents, contact the Research and Information  Desk on the first floor of Jerome Library. For contact information ,see the Ask Us! page.

Where Is the Print Collection?

Most government documents that are available in a tangible format, such as a book, pamphlet, CD, DVD, microfiche, microfilm, map, or poster, are found at the rear of the 1st floor in Jerome Library. A few are housed at the Northwest Ohio Regional Book Depository. See the Accessing Documents at the Depository box, on this page, for information about how to obtain those materials.

map of the first floor of Jerome Library

Accessing Documents From Our Off-Site Storage Facility

A small number of older, lesser-used government documents, or documents that are in poor condition, are housed at the Northwest Ohio Regional Book Depository in Perrysburg, Ohio. People with a BGSU ID, or who have a Courtesy Card, can request any of these items by clicking on the green Request Item button at the top of the BGSU Libraries catalog record for that document and then following the directions.

The Depository, which is located in the BGSU building at Levis Commons, may be contacted at:

1655 N. Wilkinson Way; Perrysburg, OH


There is a Reading Room at the Depository. However, if library users wish to see a government document in the Reading Room, they are advised to request this several business days in advance and to remember that the Depository is generally open Monday-Friday 8am-5pm.

An option for people who don't have either a BGSU ID or a Courtesy Card, but still want to use government documents, is to request the documents at the Jerome Library Circulation Desk at least several business days in advance. Another option for people who don't have either a BGSU ID or a Courtesy Card is to request the documents through their public library's interlibrary loan service. The public library would be able to borrow the documents from either the BGSU Libraries or from another Federal Depository Library.

Call Numbers for Ohio Government Documents

Ohio publications are arranged by the Ohio Documents Classification Scheme, a system that was modeled after SuDocs. All Ohio publications began with the letter O followed by letters and numbers designating the publishing department or agency.

For Example:

  • OAT     Ohio Attorney General
  • OED     Ohio Department of Education
  • ONR     Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Accessing Online Government Documents

Most current government documents are available full text online. These are freely available from any computer with an Internet connection, whether it is on- or off-campus. To retrieve the full text, click on the Connect To Full Text link in the BGSU Libraries catalog record:

Call Numbers for U.S. Government Documents

United States government publications are arranged on the shelf by an alphanumeric system called the Superintendent of Documents Classification Scheme (SuDocs). Letters stand for the publishing agency, for instance

  • A for Agriculture
  • C for Commerce
  • L for Labor
  • Pr for President
  • and so forth

The numbers on the top line of the call number file differently than the Dewey or LC collections. The number following the period is a whole number NOT A DECIMAL. For instance, C3.9: files before C3.44: and C3.44: files before C3.223:

The number for a documents called Poverty in the U.S. was assigned the SuDocs classification number C 3.186/22:999. In this classification number:

  • The C standards for the issuing agency (Commerce Department)
  • The 3 stands for the subagency (Census Bureau)
  • The 186 is the series title (Current Population Reports)
  • The /22: is the document title (Poverty in the U.S.)
  • The 999 is the year of the publication (1999)

For more details about the numbering system, click on one of the links below: