Salisbury University Libraries


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POSC 110 - Govdocs Page:

POSC 110 GovDocs Page

The U.S. Government provides a vast amount of information on just about any subject a person can imagine.  From significant laws and regulations that affect us all to statistics on just about any subject to scientific publications of all kinds. There are also many consumer information titles such as tourist pamphlets, overseas travel advisories, health information, etc.  

These days the GPO is putting almost all information on internet accessible government websites, but many sources are still published in print. 

Searching for older information (usually pre-mid 1990’s) often requires a search through print sources, some of which we have here at SU and some of which may need to be ordered from (or searched at) the Regional Federal Depository Library at College Park. But unless you are doing some in-depth historical research, you probably won’t need to access these resources from the library across the bay.

Whatever your topic, our Salisbury University Government Information Page (Govdocs Page)  is a good place to start your search.  You can find the link for it on the left side of our library home page.  It is listed on the side bar as `Government Information’.

I have also listed below a few other websites that may be useful for finding information on whatever topic you may choose.

U.S. Government’s Primary Information Resource Portal:   A commonly used starting point for just about any kind of government information on the web.

Government Printing Office (GPO) Information Resource Portal:

GPO Access   This is a pretty comprehensive website that covers government information from the GPO and has links to core documents from all three branches of government. Like THOMAS, this database  can also be a bit complicated to use at times, but the site does have a relatively user-friendly home page and also a useful A-Z Resource List  However, once you get further into the portal it can get a bit more convoluted. 

Legislative Information Resources:

THOMAS (from the Library of Congress)  The THOMAS database is a comprehensive legislative database that allows you to search just about any piece of recent legislation. However, it can, at times, be a bit of a maze to navigate.  Thank God for C-Span!  This site directs you to a plethora of government information. It is especially good with legislative information. A visit to the home page and a click on 'Resources' button will lead you to the Legislative Resources page which can offer much.  C-Span even provides an easy way to see how your Congress person voted on issues and an easy way to write them an email. 

C-Span is not a government website, but it is definitely a portal worth a look.  And take a look at C-Span TV.  It gives a balanced perspective on issues by letting the 'experts' on different sides provide their point of view.  On some programs C-Span gives the public a chance to have their say on air. This is sometimes entertaining, sometimes mind boggling, but C-Span offers insight into issues and public sentiment that you are unlikely to see elsewhere.  There is much to praise about C-Span!

By the way, I have a question:  How is C-Span funded?  :)

Congressional Record  (online thru GPO Access)  Print/microfiche:  Documents Stacks or Microfiche | X 1.1: 
A sometimes verbatim (sometimes fictitious!) record of the debate that goes on in Congress.

Members may enter testimony into the CG that never occurred in the actual debate. Since 1995 it is better than before because of some rule changes and C-Span video coverage of the debates.

United States Code (online thru GPO Access) Print Location:  Documents Reference | Y 1.2/5:

The U.S. Code is the compendium of laws of the United States categorized by subject.  The laws are broad directives from Congress from which the regulations are derived.  The regulations put the laws into action.

Regulations – Information Resources:

Office of the Federal Register  (OFR)

Federal Register – (online thru GPO Access)  Print Location:  Documents Reference | AE 2.106:

Federal Register - List of sections affected  (online thru GPO Access)  
Location: Print: -  Documents Stacks AE 2.106/2-2:
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (online thru GPO Access)  Print:  Documents Reference | AE 2.106/3:

The Code of Federal Regulations, commonly called the CFR, is the published list of U.S. Regulations
put in subject order (codified).  These regulations affect all aspects of our everyday lives.  Food safety, licensing of pilots, pollution regulation, etc.

Agencies- Information Resources:

U.S. Government Manual  ( Online thru GPO Access)  Print: Copy at the Research Help Desk     JK421 .A3

Among other things, this manual gives a nice overview of the agencies of the U.S. Government. This can be supplemented with a visit to the individual agency’s website.  We also have a paper copy of the U.S. Government Manual at the Research Help Desk and older print editions of the manual in our government documents collection.  Location:  [ Documents Stacks | AE 2.108/2:]  

GPO Access   Go to the A-Z Resource List and click on Federal Agency Internet Sites

OR access the SU Government Information page and then click on Agencies – for more links to agencies click on the Federal Agencies Directory/LSU at the top of the agencies page.

Judicial Information:

Federal Judiciary -  U.S. Courts portal. Includes Supreme Court, Courts of Appeals, District Courts, Bankruptcy Courts. Judicial information can also be accessed thru the SU Government Information page or GPO Access.  The latter two sites will give additional links not accessible from the Federal Judiciary Page.

A General Overview of the U.S. Government Processes – Information Resources:

Ben's Guide to U.S. Government  Originally conceived as a website for kids, there is a lot of good information here presented in a manner that the average citizen can actually understand.  Some detail is left out, but if everyone knew what this site had to offer, they would be much better informed citizens.

Tapping the Government Grapevine:  The User-Friendly Guide to U.S. Government Information Sources 3rd. Ed.   Location:  Reference  ZA 5055.U6 R63 1998  (This is a print publication on hold at the Research Help Desk.)

If you want a easily readable book that does a very good job of covering many of the intricacies of government and which also covers the major publications that the government puts out, THIS IS THE BOOK to read!!!.

One drawback to this book is that it was published in 1998, so some of the web addresses will not work. Also some of the government agencies have been reorganized or renamed, but the major processes of government are still the same and I have found no more clear explanation of governmental processes than here.  The Author has some fascinating anecdotes that actually make this reading fun!  ...or as fun as reading about the government can be!  :)

NOTE: This is a reference book, so it must stay in the library, but you may read it in the library.  I am going to put it on hold at the Research Help Desk for this semester.  You could also order a used copy through Amazon or similar sites.



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