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Research Guides

U.S. Government Documents Reference: How to Find Docs

How to Find Federal Documents at Bowdoin College

Many federal documents are born digital or have been digitized. If you would like an electronic copy of the document, a Google or Google Books search is worthwhile. To reduce the number of hits, try adding to the search box:
+site:mil - for federal documents from the Department of Defense
+site:gov - for other federal documents.
HathiTrust and Internet Archive also provide full-text of many historical and current government publications.

 

All federal documents received at H-L Library since September 1999 have been cataloged. Only a few documents of "high interest or importance" from before that time have been cataloged. Because not all of our documents are cataloged, determining whether we hold a particular document can be a multi-step process. Barbara Levergood would be glad to advise you at any stage in your search on how to find the document you are looking for.

The general strategy for trying to find a document is: (a) to use CBBcat to find out whether the document is in that catalog and held at Bowdoin; (b) if not, to find the Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) call number to look for the document on the shelves here at Bowdoin or to find the document online; (c) if not, to find the document in CBBcat, MaineCat, or WorldCat and request it. The most thorough and efficient strategy is, in chronological order:

  1. Use CBBcat to find out whether the document is in that catalog and held at Bowdoin. Because of the complexity of titles of many documents, a keyword search may work better than a title search. The CBBcat search might indicate that Colby and/or Bates holds the document, but not Bowdoin. To be certain, please check the shelves here at Bowdoin before requesting the document from Colby or Bates.
  2. If the document is not in CBBcat, then you need to try to find a SuDocs number in order to check the shelves to determine whether Bowdoin holds the document. To do this, try MaineCat. The University of Maine, Orono, the Regional Federal Depository Library for Maine, has cataloged all federal documents received through the Federal Depository Library Program since 1976; these documents appear in MaineCat. If you find a SuDocs number in MaineCat, please check the shelves here at Bowdoin before requesting the document via MaineCat.
  3. In order to continue trying to find a SuDocs number, for federal documents published since ca. July 1976, next try the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP). (It is not possible to request documents via the CGP.)
  4. Next try WorldCat. However, many records in WorldCat or in libraries linked to in WorldCat do not include the SuDocs number that you are seeking.
  5. For federal documents published before ca. June 1976, try one of the Indexes and Catalogs held at H-L Library at Bowdoin. We would be glad to advise you on which one might be best for your needs.

Once you have found a SuDocs number, look for the document on the shelves in the most likely of the following collections:

  • The largest collection of federal documents at Bowdoin is held in the Govt Doc collection in the basement of H-L Library.
  • Federal documents having special value are in the Govt Index collection in the basement of H-L Library.
  • Selected congressional hearings, 1824-2002, are held in Storage. Contact Circulation to request hearings from Storage.
  • Oversized volumes are held in the Govt Folio collection in the basement of H-L Library.
  • Documents in microfiche format are in the Govt Micro collection in the basement of H-L Library.
  • Reference materials are held in the Govt Ref collection on the first floor of H-L Library.
  • There are some bound documents periodicals in the Main Periodical collection in the basement of H-L Library.
  • Topographic maps are held in Hatch Science Library. Other sheet maps are held in the Govt Maps collection in the basement of H-L Library.

Barbara Levergood would be glad to assist you in any way in your search.

Subject Guide

Barbara Levergood
 
Contact:
Bowdoin College
H-L Library, Office 110B
3000 College Station
Brunswick, Maine 04011-8421
fax: 207-725-3083
blevergo@bowdoin.edu
207-725-3351
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