About U.S. Government Information


"This 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 

Columbia University has been a depository for federal documents since 1882. There is no separate U.S. Government Documents collection in the Columbia University Libraries. CLIO has records for most U.S. government depository titles, indicating the location in one of the campus libraries, according to subject. Some materials (primarily pre-1976 Congressional documents) still can only be identified and located through the card catalogs in the Butler Library Reference Department.

Most print documents published since 1976 are now located in the Offsite storage facility. The CLIO records will indicate this location and provide a means for recalling the items from off-site on request.

Isn't most government information online?

Federal depository publications are increasingly being issued in electronic formats on the internet. CLIO has records for many of these documents, with links to the online publication. Many other online Federal publications can be located by conducting a search on USA.GOV.

Where can I find information published by the state of New York?

New York State documents have been scanned and are available on the web, from the New York State Library Catalog, Excelsior. For documents printed before 1996, use CLIO and the card catalog. Lehman Library also functions as a microfiche depository for New York State documents, 1983-1994. Please contact the Government Information Librarian if you wish to access the microfiche content.

What if I'm not affiliated with Columbia University?

Columbia University Libraries welcomes the use of its collections of U.S. Federal government and New York State documents by members of the general public. We do ask that you first register with the University through the Library Information Office. Non-Columbia affiliates can also use CLIO to find records for online documents and access them from home or another location. Members of the general public who obtain access specifically to use depository documents may use only depository materials and do not have access to additional collections or services.

For details of the conditions attached to these privileges, please visit the Library Information Office website on using the libraries.