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Federal Documents
Broward County > Library > Reference Section > Federal Documents

Federal Depository Library Program 

"The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) was established by Congress to ensure that the American public has access to its Government's information. Since 1813, depository libraries have safeguarded the public's right to know by collecting, organizing, maintaining, preserving, and assisting users with information from the Federal Government."

- From "About the FDLP" – fdlp.gov

Federal Documents

The Broward County Library has been part of the Federal Depository Library Program since 1967, when the federal documents collection was housed at the Fort Lauderdale Branch Library. In 1984, the federal documents collection was transferred to Broward County Main Library.

The staff members of the Reference Section of the Main Library are ready to help with your government information needs. Please call 954-357-7439 if you have any questions.

Searching for Federal Government Information

Most items issued by the federal government can be found in Broward County Library's online Library Catalog. (
www.broward.org/library) either as a reference to an item in the print collection or as a direct link to an online copy of the document.

To those unfamiliar with federal government information and organization, finding specific items can be challenging. When searching for information directly from the internet, many of the most commonly requested items can be found at the Government Printing Office’s premier repository for Federal information, the Federal Digital System, or FDsys (www.gpo.gov/fdsys/) or the U.S. Government's official portal (http://www.usa.gov/).

The Basic Collection

The Basic Collection is a selection of government publications which the Government Printing Office requires all Depository libraries make available to the public. Many items of the basic collection are available in print or microform at the Main Library, and most are available on the internet through links in the library catalog or the GPO’s web link to the Basic Collection.

How is Federal Government Information Organized?

The federal government is divided into three main branches; the Executive, which includes the President and all Cabinet offices and agencies; the Legislative, which includes Congress and its supporting agencies; and the Judicial, which includes the Supreme Court, Circuit Courts, District Courts, Bankruptcy courts, and any additional support agencies.

We have put together a list of major links to various government agencies which we hope you will find useful.

Click
here for links to the federal websites, arranged by agencies.

Click
here for a links to federal websites, arranged by subjects.

For an in-depth look at the organization and responsibilities of individual agencies, see the United States Government Manual organizational chart for the entire US government (with the exception of the various sub-agencies under the Cabinet Departments).

Federal government information is often arranged by the agency that issued the document. When searching the library catalog, you may see a call number for an item which seems unfamiliar. This is because the print collection is organized by the Superintendent of Documents Classification system (SuDoc), which arranges the items by the issuing agency. For example, the letter "C" indicates an item issued by the Commerce Department or one of its sub-agencies such as the Patent Office or the Bureau of the Census

Print Sources

The Reference Section, located on the fifth floor of the Broward County Main Library, has a collection of print and microform materials from many federal agencies relating to a wide variety of subjects. In addition to current documents, the collection features special historical sets such as War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, and the Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (also known as the Warren Commission Report). Listings for most federal documents are now included in 
Broward County Library's online Library Catalog.

Materials received through the depository program remain the property of the federal government. As such, they are maintained as reference materials. Some items or portions of items may be faxed in accordance with standard Broward County Library policies.

Microform collections 

Another source for federal documents is American Statistics Index Microfiche Library, from Congressional Information Service (which, despite its name, is not a government agency but a private publishing company). Full-text documents are available in microfiche format. This collection also includes books that index and abstract the statistical publications of federal government agencies.

The Section also has special collections of historical sets such as the Papers of the Continental Congress, Confidential U.S. Diplomatic Post Records, Vietnam War Reports and Classified Histories, and National Security Files

Maps

The Reference Section has a collection of topographic maps from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and nautical charts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Various areas of Florida and the waters surrounding Florida are included in these map collections.

Topographic maps (or contour maps) have many uses related to earth sciences, geographic planning, and mining, but they also have recreational uses (hiking, orienteering, etc.). They are graphic representations of the surface features of the land, both natural and man-made. They show the elevation of land and include hills, valleys, forest cover, and buildings as well as streams and other bodies of water. Additional information on topographic maps may be found at the USGS website at http://topomaps.usgs.gov/.

Nautical charts are essential tools for marine navigation. They are graphic representations of maritime areas and the adjacent coastal regions. They include natural features of the seabed as well as man-made structures such as harbors and bridges. They show the depths of water and information on tides and currents as well as details of the coastline. In addition to the collection of nautical charts in the BLG Section, additional information can be found on the NOAA website at
http://nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/.

Databases and web portals

The United States government has collected documents and information of many types and on many subjects and placed them into specialized portals for easier access. Some of the more popular sites include:

Federal forms from USA.gov, which provides access to a wide variety of forms from federal government agencies.

FedStats provides access to many of the most popular statistics compiled by federal government agencies.

The Federal Digital System or FDsys provides access to many of the most important publications produced by the federal government, including the Congressional Record and the Federal Register.

The Government Printing Office Catalog of U.S. Government Publications provides the bibliographic records of federal documents from 1976 to the present. Many of the more recent documents include PURLS (Permanent Uniform Resource Locators) which link the user directly to the full text of the documents.

 These databases are also accessible by following these steps:

  • Visit the Broward County Library website
  • Click on "Catalogs & Databases" tab below the top banner
  • Click on "Databases and Ebooks"
  • Click on "Government and Political Science"
  • Chose a website

Links to Federal Documents websites

Most current federal government documents are now available online through the websites of the government agencies that produce them. The following websites may be useful in locating federal documents.

Executive Branch Websites

Executive Agencies, Cabinet Departments, and
Presidential Councils and Commissions

www.whitehouse.gov/government 

Executive Office of the President of the United States
http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/president-obama

Independent Federal Agencies and Commissions
www.whitehouse.gov/government/independent-agencies.html  

White House
http://www.whitehouse.gov/

Cabinet Departments

Department of Agriculture
http://www.usda.gov/

Department of Commerce
http://www.commerce.gov/

Department of Defense
http://www.defenselink.mil/

Department of Education
www.ed.gov/index.jhtml

Department of Energy
http://www.energy.gov/

Department of Health and Human Services
http://www.dhhs.gov/

Department of Homeland Security
www.dhs.gov/dhspublic

Department of Housing and Urban Development
http://www.hud.gov/

Department of the Interior
http://www.doi.gov/

Department of Justice
http://www.usdoj.gov/

Department of Labor
http://www.dol.gov/

Department of State
http://www.state.gov/

Department of Transportation
http://www.dot.gov/

Department of the Treasury
http://www.ustreas.gov/

Department of Veterans Affairs
http://www.va.gov/

Cabinet-Level Agencies and Offices

Environmental Protection Agency
http://www.epa.gov/

Office of Management and Budget
www.whitehouse.gov/omb

Office of National Drug Control Policy
http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/

United States Trade Representative
http://www.ustr.gov/

Legislative Branch

Congressional Record
www.senate.gov/pagelayout/legislative/d_three_sections_with_teasers/congrecord.htm

Legislative History and Information
http://thomas.loc.gov/

Library of Congress
http://www.loc.gov/

Library of Congress - Copyright Office
http://www.copyright.gov/

Overview of the Legislative Process
www.house.gov/house/Tying_it_all.shtml

U.S. House of Representatives
http://www.house.gov/

U.S. House of Representatives - Committees
www.house.gov/house/CommitteeWWW.shtml

U.S. House of Representatives - Party Organizations
www.house.gov/house/Party_organizations.shtml  

U.S. Senate
http://www.senate.gov/

U.S. Senate - Committees
www.senate.gov/pagelayout/committees/d_three_sections_with_teasers/committees_home.htm  

U.S. Senators - Contact Information
www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

U.S. Senate page on Treaties
www.senate.gov/pagelayout/legislative/d_three_sections_with_teasers/treaties.htm

Virtual Reference Desk for Senate and Congressional Topics  
www.senate.gov/pagelayout/reference/b_three_sections_with_teasers/virtual.htm  

Judicial Branch

Bankruptcy Basics
www.uscourts.gov/bankruptcycourts/bankruptcybasics.html   
 
Federal Court System
http://www.uscourts.gov/

Federal District Courts and Circuit Courts of Appeal
www.uscourts.gov/courtlinks

Supreme Court Historical Society
http://www.supremecourthistory.org/

Supreme Court of the United States
http://www.supremecourtus.gov/