Government Information: Quick Reference
Where to look
While there are always exceptions, below is a quick guide.
Legal Documents (ex. supreme or circuit court materials). The FLDP does not circulate court materials. For legal questions, use LexisUni or other legal databases.
Congressional Materials (ex. bills, hearing, committee reports). These materials are circulated in print and microform through the FDLP. Materials the last ~40 years, it is easiest to use Congress.gov and govinfo.gov to find there documents online. For older hearings and bills, use ProQuest Congressional. Reports referenced within committee hearings will be in the Serial Set, which can be access via HathiTrust, Serial Set database, and ProQuest Congressional (coverage varies by year). PSU also has a comprehensive collection of print volumes.
Agency Materials (reports, publications, fliers, promotional materials, budget reports). Materials published for public consumption (Ex maps, reports, commissioned studies) will be circulated through the FDLP. Some reports will also be online. Internal documents (ex. employee lists, internal committee reports) are not circulated through the FDLP; this content can only be accessed by request to the agency, or to NARA (where archival agency records are held). Agency reports can be found in the catalog.
Data and Statistics This varies by agency. in most cases it is best to identify the agency that may collect the relevant data and search their website. You can search data.gov to determine which agencies collect relevant data. For demographic information, Census is the best place to start. Compiled sources like Social Explorer and ProQuest Statistical Abstracts are excellent stating points.
Maps Most agency maps are accessible online through agencies or the Library of Congress maps portal. USGS has a complete collection of their maps, including historical maps, online. Some older maps from the Dept of Defense and Bureau of Land Management may only be in print.
National Archives and Historical Materials. Unfortunately many historical materials held in NARA are unique records that were not circulated. Some of this content has been scanned and distributed on microform by 3rd parties, but this was not circulated in the FDLP. A large portion of NARA materials can only be accessed at the National Archives.
Congressional Material (Bills, Legislation, Hearings)
"Is it a Gov Doc?"
Government Document: Any material produced by government entity as part of their normal operations (ex. hearings, committee reports). Many, but not all, government documents are circulated through the FDLP and are online. Includes all formats (print, digital, online, microform).
Government Records: Internal materials produced by agencies (ex. employee lists, internal reports, internal memos). These materials can be requested as public records documents, but are not circulated in the FDLP. They can be accessed through the agency or NARA. Includes all formats (print, digital, online, microform).
Government Publications: Materials produced by government entities with the intention of public circulation (ex. press materials, public reports, maps, posters, books). These materials are typically published by the Government Publishing Office and circulated through the FDLP. Includes all formats (print, digital, online, microform).
Government Information: Catch-all term for any material in any format created by a government entity (ex. agency social media, online content, printed material not published by GPO). This term includes Gov docs, Gov records, and Gov Publications.