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Finding United States Government Documents

Government documents in the EPSc Library are arranged according to their Superintendent of Documents Classification Number.

What is a Superintendent of Documents Classification Number?

A Superintendent of Documents number is a unique number used to identify each and every publication issued by the federal government. This number is not used to identify or separate government documents according to subject area, but it does indicate the issuing government agency as well as other pertinent information about the document.

Here is the title of a sample government document:

Mining and Mineral Operations in the South-Central States

And here is its Superintendent of Documents Classification Number:

I 28.16 /2: M 66 /7

This number gives us the following information about the document:
Itells us what government agency issued the document. In this case it is the Department ofthe Interior.
28tells us what specific office or bureau within this agency issued the document. In thiscase it stands for the Bureau of Mines.
.16tells us what type of document this is. In this case the document is a handbook.
/2gives us further information about the type of document. Here the /2 means that the document is part of the series entitled "Mining and Mineral Operations."
Msimply indicates that the first word of the document's title begins with M.
66tells us that this is the 66th document of its type whose title's first word begins with M.
/7tells us that this document is the 7th volume of a series, in this case "Mining and Mineral Operations."

How do I use this number to find a document on the shelf?

Government documents are shelved in order, first by the letter code of the issuing agency:

D 103.42 /5: CERC 94-3
is shelved before
I 28.16 /2: M 66 /7

Documents issued by the same agency are shelved in order of the numerical code indicating the specific office or bureau of issue, in numerical order:

I 19.3: 1538-R
is shelved before
I 28.16 /2: M 66 /7

Documents issued by the same office or bureau are shelved according to the code for the type of document, in numerical order:

I 28.16 /2: M 66 /7
is shelved before
I 28.23: 9466

Documents of the same general type are then shelved by the special document-type code following the slash (if this code is present), in numerical order:

I 28.16 /2: M 66 /7
is shelved before
I 28.16 /3: H #1

Documents of exactly the same type will all have the same series of codes preceding the colon. They will then be shelved by the first letter of the first word of the title:

I 28.16 /2: M 66 /7
is shelved before
I 28.16 /2: Q 3

If the first letter of the first word of the title is the same, then the documents are shelved by the number indicating the order of publication, in numerical order:

I 28.16 /2: M 9
is shelved before
I 28.16 /2: M 66 /

Finally, the given volumes of a title (if there are in fact multiple volumes) are shelved by volume number.

I 28.16 /2: M 66 /3
is shelved before
I 28.16 /2: M 66 /7

Go to Government Publications