Government Documents

Chester Fritz Library resources for government research


University of North Dakota shares federal government document collection responsibilities with North Dakota State University.  What does this mean for the user? Some government documents are available at UND and some at NDSU.

If you need a document from NDSU, you can request it through Inter-Library Loan for free and the document should arrive within a couple of days (be sure to indicate on the form that you need a government document from NDSU).  

Below you'll find two files.  The first is a list of the agencies and departments that UND is responsible for providing access to, and the second is a list with the agencies and departments NDSU is responsible for providing access to.



What are SuDoc numbers?

The SuDoc classification system is designed to group together publications by the government author. Each government department is assigned its own alphabetical identifier, based on the name of the organization, e.g., C is used for Commerce, and NAS is used for NASA. To distinguish the subordinate bureaus and the offices, numbers are added to the alphabetic identifiers with “1” designating the secretary's or administrative's office. Beginning with “2,” the numbers are applied in numerical order to each subordinate office. A period follows the combination of letters and numbers representing the bureau or office.

For example:

  • C1 — Commerce Department (including Secretary's Office)
  • C3 — Census Bureau
  • C13 — National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
  • C55 — National Weather Service

Adding a number after the period the SuDoc classification system allows for the identification of the various series of publications issued by a particular bureau or office. For example:

  • C1.1 — Annual reports published by the Commerce Department
  • C1.1:995 — The annual report for 1995

How to Find a Document Using the SuDoc Number

The SuDoc number is written on the upper left hand corner of the document. The number may also be found on the inside front cover, especially on hard cover books. Locating a document is a matter of following the SuDoc number through the stacks to the correct spot:

  1. Use the signs on the end of the shelves to find the agency code in alphabetical order.
  2. Within that agency’s section of shelf, find the bureau in numerical order.
  3. Individual documents proceed in alphabetical and numeric order.

For example, given the SuDoc number NAS 1.2:R 11:

  1. NAS is a section in the N’s after NA and before the NF’s.
  2. Within NAS, 1.2 comes after 1.1 and before 1.3.
  3. R 11 will be the eleventh document in the R’s.

Note that numbers always come before letters. For example: NAS 1.2:613 would be shelved before NAS 1.2:R 11, because numbers get shelved first.


For assistance with obtaining a government document, or with government research in general, please contact the government documents librarian. You can also contact one of the service desks on the first and second floors of the library for assistance.


Government documents moved online more or less in the 21st century, but the United States government has been printing documents since the 18th century.  A significant number of government documents are only available in print. 

When looking for a document with a date between 1976 and the present, you can use the Books+ search on the library homepage to find items held by UND or the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) to search all government publications. If you find an item of interest through CGP, you can view the item record and then clik on "Locate in a Library" to see whether the item is held by UND or NDSU.

Note that at UND relatively few materials printed prior to 1976 have been cataloged (though the documents are available).  If you are looking for a government document prior to that date, use the handouts "Major Retrospective Indexes to Government Publications" or "How to Trace a Bill Through Congress" listed below or speak to a librarian and we will help you.  The database HeinOnline also includes digitized versions of some older federal publications, including the Congressional Record; see the instructions on how to search it below.

It is possible that a document which you are looking for is stored at NDSU (check the box at left for an idea of what will be there). If you need a document from NDSU, you can request it through Inter-Library Loan for free and the document should arrive within a couple of days (be sure to indicate on the form that you need a government document from NDSU). 

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