Federal Documents

​​​​​​​​​​​The Broward County Main Library is a congressionally designated depository for U.S. Government documents. Public access to the Government documents collection is guaranteed by public law. (Title 44 United States Code)

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 Information Services 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 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 Govinfo.gov “Discover U.S. Government Information” or USA.gov. Many other items can be found through the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

Government Information Users needing access to Government Information
A dedicated computer is available at the Main Library Reference Desk on the 5th floor for users of government information. Contact the Main Library Information Services Section for more information.

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.

For an in-depth look at the organization and responsibilities of individual agencies, see the United States Government Manual which includes an organization 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, 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 Information Services 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 including economics, history, politics, science, and social sciences. 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 the Broward County 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 the American Statistics Index Microfiche Library, from Congressional Information Service. 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.

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 USGS.gov (scroll down for maps). 

The library provides access to the following government-related databases:
  • Data and Statistics about the United States provides access to statistics compiled by federal government agencies. Other forms of data can be found at the U.S. Government open data source Data.gov.
  • 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. (Look for the “Access” field in the bibliographic record and click on the link.)

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.

General Government Portals

GovInfo.gov “Discover U.S. Government Information” Current editions of a wide variety of important federal government publications including the Congressional Record, United States Code, and the Code of Federal Regulations.

USA.gov This portal to the websites of all federal agencies is managed by the U.S. General Services Administration and provides one-stop access to online federal government resources. It allows the user to find government information without the need to know which agencies produce the information. Search by keyword or browse under “Featured Subjects”, “Interesting Topics”, branches of government, or state and local information.

Executive B​​ran​ches
Executive Depart​ments
Cabinet-Level Agencies and Offices
The Cabinet includes the Secretaries of the Executive Departments, as well as administrators of other agencies including:
Legislati​ve Branch
Judicial Branch