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U.S. Federal Depository Library Program

What is the Federal Depository Library Program?

Established by Congress in the mid 1800s and managed by the Government Publishing Office since 1895, the Federal Depository Library Program has collected, organized, and preserved information produced by all parts of the Federal government, distributed this information to designated libraries across the country, and assisted people in locating and using it.

The mission of Federal depository libraries is to provide local, free access to information from the Federal government in an impartial environment. Federal depository libraries select materials from lists of subjects provided by the Government Publishing Office. The depository library must then provide the public with free and uninhibited access to these selected materials.

Federal depository collections are available for use by everyone. Documents in print and electronic formats are available on a wide range of topics relevant to the general public and to professionals, researchers, and students in a variety of fields. Selections for inclusion into the collections of individual depository libraries are made according to the needs of each library’s users.

The U.S. Department of the Interior Library collects transcripts of House and Senate hearings, committee prints, and other Congressional materials. The library also collects titles produced by executive agencies on science and technology, nature and wildlife, geology, energy, the environment, Native Americans, and much more.

Catalog of U.S. Government Publications

The Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) is the finding tool for electronic and print publications from the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the U.S. government. These publications make up the National Bibliography of U.S. Government Publications. The CGP contains descriptive records for historical and current publications and provides direct links to those that are available online.


More than 500,000 records generated since July 1976 are contained in the CGP and it is updated daily. The catalog will grow to include records for publications dating back to the late 1800s, making the CGP the central point for locating new and historical Government publications.

The CGP was originally the online counterpart of the Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications, which had been printed since the passage of the Printing Act of 1895. The print version of the Monthly Catalog was discontinued with the December 2004 edition.

For publications issued prior to 1976, the printed Monthly Catalog should be consulted. Print editions of the Monthly Catalog and many of the publications indexed in it may be available at the larger depository libraries. 


**Direct links to online versions of publications from the cataloging record

**"Locate a Library" feature within each record to find a nearby Federal depository where a particular publication or expert assistance can be found

**Robust search engine

**Basic, Advanced, and Expert search options

**Searches can be narrowed to specific collections or formats, such as maps, Congressional, or Internet publications

**Search results or selected records can be e-mailed

Federal Depository Library Program Items Selected by the Interior Library

View a table of the item numbers selected by the Interior Library.

The table shows classification numbers, item titles, producing agency, item frequency, and item format.

Currently, the U.S. Department of the Interior Library selects over 600 separate item types (or item numbers) from the Federal Depository Library Program for inclusion in the Library's collections.

Locating Other Federal Depository Libraries

Everyone is welcome to visit Federal depository libraries and use their collections. Federal depository libraries are located in nearly every U.S. Congressional district. Altogether, there are almost 1,350 sites across the United States and its territories.

Locate Federal Depository Libraries by State or Area Code - Searchable by state or telephone area code. Provides the name of the library, depository library number, address, phone number, fax number, and link to the depository’s web site.


The Basic Collection

The Government Publishing Office has designated some Federal publications as belonging to the Federal Depository Library Program's Basic Collection. Publications included in the Basic Collection are vital sources of information that support the public's right to know about the workings and essential activities of their Federal Government. All titles in the Basic Collection are available online, and many are available in print in the Interior Library.

Bicentennial Edition: Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970 - Part 1 and Part 2


Special Indexes of Federal Information on the Internet

U.S. Government Indexes
FDSys: Federal Digital System (GPO) (Library of Congress)

Some Federal Depository libraries have gone the extra mile to make Federal information accessible on the Internet. Here’s a sample of their projects:

  • Avalon Project (Yale Law School) - Historic legal documents and treaties from around the world with special emphasis on the American Colonies.

  • Congressional Research Service Reports (University of North Texas Libraries) - The Congressional Research Service is the public policy research arm of Congress. Reports were downloaded from a variety of web sites that host CRS reports, either currently or in the past. Many CRS reports are updated on a regular basis, and this site includes all versions of the reports that could be located.

  • Documents Data Miner 2 - Use this search engine to find out which depository libraries have selected publications of interest to you. It combines files from the latest version of the List of Classes of United States Government Publications available for Selection by Depository Libraries, the Item Lister’s Current Item Number Selection Profiles for Depository Libraries, and the Federal Depositories Library Directory. Available information on inactive and discontinued items has been added to the database.

  • Documents Center (University of Michigan) - One of the oldest depository web sites focuses on reference services and instruction. This site includes sections on international, Federal, state, and local documents, political science, and statistics.

  • Statistics and Social Science Data Organized by the University of Virginia Libraries. The titles available only to the University of Virginia community are noted as such.