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Government Information Portal

Research tips and links to various government information sources.

Welcome

Due to COVID-19, all on-site CSUSM Library services including Government Documents access are closed until further notice. A great deal of the resources we have are in electronic format and findable through the library catalog (https://biblio.csusm.edu). For research assistance, please use the chat option available on the library home page or email jdownie@csusm.edu. We will respond in a timely fashion.

               
 

CSUSM became a selective Federal Documents Depository in California's 50th Congressional District as well as a selective California Documents Depository in 1994.

This site is organized into Federal, California, regional/city and international resources. Some topics of special interest to CSUSM and the local community, such as grants and citation tools are listed separately. Our collections can be searched using the CSUSM Library Catalog.

Depository materials and related services are available to all users during normal library hours per Title 44 United States Code, "This library is a congressionally designated depository for U.S. Government documents. Public access to the government documents collection is guaranteed by public law."  You may request an appointment using the contact links on the right of this page. You may also reach general library research assistance via chat or email through the "Ask Us" options found on the library home page.

ASK THE GPO www.gpo.gov/askgpo

TUTORIALS ON GOVINFO www.govinfo.gov/help/tutorials-handouts.

CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/ECFR?page=browse

TAX FORMS

CSUSM no longer receives print tax forms for Federal or State returns. All forms and instruction booklets can be found online. Depository staff are restricted from offering tax or legal assistance by law.

Federal Forms: https://www.irs.gov/forms-instructions

California State Forms: https://www.ftb.ca.gov/forms/search/index.aspx

Social Media for Federal and California Governments

YouTube Video About the Federal Depository Program

Verify US Government social media sites (Social Media Registry)

News.CA.gov (State of California podcasts collecction)

Mobile Apps Gallery A-Z (Federal government selection of apps for health, safety, business, kids, travel, emergency and much more!)

What is a government document?

A government document can be anything produced by an agency acting as an agent of a city, regional, state or national entity. These can come in a variety of formats:

  • Text-based items intended for public distribution (speeches, treaties, laws...)
  • Text not meant for public distribution (diplomatic correspondence, meeting transcripts...)
  • Media such as training films, social media
  • Maps, photographs
  • Sound recordings
  • Realia such as stickers, models, and equipment.

Most US government agencies will use the .gov domain in their URL. Adding to the mix (and sometimes confusion) are quasi-government agencies  such as the US Postal Service, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Federal Reserve which do not use the gov domain name but are tightly tied to the Federal government by function or funding. The US military has its own URL domain (.mil) and a number of subdomains within that (e.g., dod.mil).

As important as government information can be to a historian, not everything has been digitized and in some cases may never be due to national security issues, presidential privilege or legislation. A lot of information has been declassified over the years through normal records management or Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests but not be hosted by the originating agency, making discovery a challenge.

More information on government agencies and resources is in the Government Documents Research Guide. I am here to help you so please contact me for assistance.

Collections

There are some tricks you can use to narrow your search results to specifically government-hosted primary collections.

Catalog of US Government Publications (AKA the Monthly Catalog) will list all publications and provide links where possible. If the item hasn't been digitized, you can request it using your institution's Interlibrary Loan service. USA.gov is for current Federal services and resources.

Search a specific agency:

  • Find the agency's home page and search from there such as census.gov, congress.gov
  • Google uses a domain limiter site:gov or site:mil to limit to government agencies. Some quasi-government Federal agencies use either the .org or .edu domain name.

HathiTrust, Google Books, and the Internet Archive contain large amounts of digitized government documents.

Search a specific state, city or other subdivision, generally they will have the .gov domain in their URL.

Search the Library of Congress at https://www.loc.gov/

CSUSM users have access to the US Congressional Serial Set and the American State Papers found in the Databases by name collection.

Not all government information is available on the internet making research a challenge. Some web pages will be altered or even removed (such as during a change in administration) adding complexity to finding sources. Ask for assistance if you are not finding what you need or have too much to wade through in your results.