Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

U.S. Federal Government Publications: Getting Started

How to locate U.S. Federal Government Publications

Accessing Government Information

Key Access Points for Government Information (mostly current)

  • USA.gov : Handy portal to consumer and popular information.
    Includes A-Z Index of U.S. Government Agencies.
  • Thomas: Specifically for legislative information (including links to congressional committee websites).
  • Science.gov: Searches for scientific information across many government agencies.
  • Statistical data: FedStats is a gateway to statistical portals at the websites of many federal agencies.  Data.gov is a repository of digital datasets produced by federal government agencies.

Census Data Online

When trying to obtain US census data, consider the following points:

  • Level of aggregation: Do you need information on individuals, or aggregated data?
  • Geographic specificity: If aggregated, data for a single place, or comparison between different geographies?
  • Geographic extent: If comparison, what units within what area? (e.g., all counties within a state, all census tracts within a county)
  • Date(s) of interest: What time period are you studying?
  • Date span: A single point in time, or track changes over time (time series)?
  • Output needs: Do you need to see data on screen, download or print a pretty table, or download data to analyze further?
  • Periodicity of surveys: Understand that surveys may be decennial, annual, or represent an average over 3 or 5 years (e.g., American Community Survey).
  • Changes in questions: Understand that different questions are asked as parts of different surveys, and questions asked change over time.
       The book Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000provides a nice overview of the questions asked during the first 22 censuses.
    PDF version 

Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP)

"Government Documents" is a term often used to refer to any sort of material produced by a goverment (legal, legislative, statistical data, books and reports, research studies, consumer guides, archival material) in any format (electronic, print, microform).

FDLP logoMost of the material in the Federal Documents Collection was received through the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). The collection includes over 1 million publications in paper, microfiche and electronic formats.

Vital Statistics Data

If you are experiencing problems with our guides, please contact Janet S. Ward, jward@limestone.edu, Associate Professor and Web Services Librarian.