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Student Worker Technical Services Training Manual: Government Documents

A reference guide for students working in the Technical Services Department

What are Government Documents?

Government Documents are items published by the U.S. Government Printing Office. They come from government agencies and departments such as the Department of Interior or Department of Agriculture.

Brown Library is designated as a Federal Depository for Government Documents. This means we select items from these agencies and departments and we receive these items free of charge. We agree to make them available to the public and take care of them.

Our depository number is 0612A

Did you know?

SuDoc numbers change each time an agency moves to a new federal department. The Office of Education is a good example. Beginning life (in 1867) in the Department of the Interior (SuDoc I). it has moved three times; first to the Federal Security Agency (FS), then to Health, Education and Welfare (HE) and finally it's own department (ED).

Item Lister

We use this tool to check the item numbers on the shipping lists. We want to make sure that we are receiving the correct items.

Searching WorkFlows for a SuDoc number

When searching Workflows for a Sudoc number, you need to remember a couple of things.

Set the Index drop down box to General.

Set the search type to Browse.

You must be mindful of spaces, and sometimes it is helpful to stop typing at the colon.

Superintendent of Documents Classification System

Understanding SuDoc Classification Numbers

The Superintendent of Documents uses an alpha/numeric classification system which assigns a SuDoc number to each publication.  This system classifies each document by an institutional author (Congress or a government department, agency or commission), not by subject. A SuDoc number is composed of two major parts divided by the colon: the stem, which identifies the government department or agency (the author) that issued the publication and after the colon a book number which is specific to that document.

The following example for SuDoc number I 29.9/5: 156 illustrates this system.




Department of the Interior





National Parks



bibliographies and lists (type of document e.g. an annual report, newsletter, etc. )

type of bibliography


the book number

SuDoc numbers beginning with the letters A - T identify the executive department or agency that  published the document. Therefore, A is for Agriculture, S is for the State Department. etc. The letters X and Y, however, identify documents pertaining to Congress, such as hearings and reports.  An example is Y 4.J 89/2 : F/31/6.

Quick Tips:

  • The dot (.) is a period, not a decimal.
  • All numbers are whole numbers, not decimals (.9 comes before .12)
  • Letters come before numbers
  • Nothing comes before something (for ex. AE 1.102 : G 28 precedes AE 1.102 : G 28/2/Trans.7)          

Ask a reference librarian:


The size of the collection combined with the shelving available on the C floor has caused some filing irregularities.  If you cannot find a document, please  ask a reference librarian for assistance.



For the curious student who wishes to learns even more about SuDoc numbers.


Learning SuDoc Call Numbers: An interactive tutorial designed by Becky Fox at Michigan State University.


GODORT: Gov Docs Online Tutorial: A Government Documents Tutorial


This page came from Raether Library, Trinity College,

Government Documents Mail Processing Guide

This guide can also be found in paper form in the gray notebook in the GovDocs processing area.

Receiving GovDocs Mail

Government documents come in in cardboard boxes, padded envelopes, plastic bag-type envelopes, and sometimes cardboard tubes.

Mail is delivered to the cabinet by the window near the large copy machine.

To identify a government document package, look on the address label for two hints. At the bottom of the label you will notice REF 1: 0612A. Remember, that number is our depository number.

Be sure to write today's date on the address label so that we can stamp that date on the items inside when we process the box.