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Government Documents Fundamentals

A guide to basic information about finding, evaluating, and using government documents for assignments, research, and your own information.

COVID-19 Updates

Please note: while we try to keep our guides as up-to-date as possible, the most current information on WSU Pullman Library operations and Services can be found at the links below:

Lorena's COVID-19 Notes


If you need assistance, please use the "Schedule Appointment" link under my photo on the left side of this guide. You can also email me directly at - Lorena



  • Free and expanded electronic access for temporary online teaching and learning. During thw current period causing library closures, many publishers and library vendors are allowing special access to research databases and materials. Note that some of these will be invisible because they will be added to something we already have, like SAGE Research Methods or JStor.
  • Relevant highlights (although be sure to check the list for yourself!!): Publication Manual of the APA (6th and the new 7th editions); Paratext U.S. Documents MasterFile.

U.S. Government Coronavirus Resource Guide - from the Library of Congress. Includes relevant legislation, congressional action, presidential action, agency action, state government action, CRS reports, international reports,and more.

What are government documents?

What are government documents?

Material produced or published by government entities, whether local, state, national, or international, is considered 'government information' or 'government documents.'

Depository Libraries

The federal government established a system of depository libraries in 1813.  The WSU Libraries, #0643, became a depository in 1907 along with many other land grant institution libraries.  The FDLP symbol  undefined  is posted at the entryway to the Holland and Terrell Libraries and the Owen Science & Engineering Library as well as on the Libraries' home page.

The State of Washington also has a depository program, started in 1963.  The WSU Libraries is a full state depository and receives all of the documents distributed by the state government.

Learning Objectives

After viewing these pages and completing the exercises you should:

  • understand basic government organization and the types of publications that are produced;
  • know several databases for finding government documents and how to search them; and
  • know more about evaluating and citing government documents

Other LibGuides

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us