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How to Find a Government Publication

This is a guide on how to identify publications of the United States government and how to locate them at the Robert L. Carothers Library & Learning Commons in Kingston.

Government Publications in the URI Library

The University Library is a U.S. Federal Depository Library and currently houses over 850,000 government publications in tangible format (print, microfiche, maps, etc.) and provides access to over 200,000 online resources.  All of the online resources are linked through the library catalog. Most of the government publications in tangible format are shelved on the first floor of the Kingston library.  A handful of selected titles are interfiled with the other Library collections.

The Government Publications collection is arranged according to SuDoc classification, a unique system which utilizes letters, numbers and punctuation marks.  For more information on this system, please see the "How to Read a SuDoc Number" tab.

Note: Government publications were not cataloged by depository libraries until 1976 when the Government Printing Office started to provide catalog records for libraries to use.  Therefore to find a government publication, it's first necessary to determine if it was published before or after 1976.


Checking out government publications

Many government publications may be borrowed. The loan period is 28 days. Materials are checked out at the Circulation Desk of the Library.

For assistance

If you need further assistance, please contact the Government Publications Office, University Library, (401) 874-2606. If the office is closed, please consult the Info & Research Help Desk, which may be reached at (401) 874-2653.

You may also contact the government publications subject specialist, Deborah Mongeau, at (401) 874-4610 or

Created by

Deborah Mongeau, rev. 1/99, 8/02, 9/02, 10/13

S. Anderson, rev. 2/07

Updated and reformatted by Angela Pugliese, 10/13

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.