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Navigating Gov Docs
When seeking official documents, consider which legislative body or agency might be involved. Some official documents reflect a partisan perspective. Others are intended to be more dispassionate. Some offices provide non-partisan research, including:
If you need documents from before 1975, you'll need patience and dogged persistence. Let a librarian help you find your way through the index to government documents, The Monthly Catalog. It's not for the faint of heart.
Searching Our Catalog for Federal Documents
Our library is a federal documents depository, and the documents we receive are listed in the catalog. Though most of our documents now come in the form of URLs leading to online public documents, those that we have in paper are shelved on the lower level by the government's own shelving system (SuDoc number), which organizes documents by the agency they come from.
Searching Google for Government Documents
Most government documents today are made public through the Internet. You can limit a search to particular domains. Since many states and even some foreign governments have URLs ending in .gov, it can be a mixed bag to sort through. You can also zero in on a particular agency in a search.
student debt site:.gov
college students political participation site:congress.gov
college students site:mn.gov
Pro tip: use the "search tools" and then click on "any time" to limit a search by date.
Congress.gov (formerly THOMAS)
From the Library of Congress. Provides the text of bills introduced in Congress along with committee action from the 104th Congress (1995) to present. Users can search the site by bill number or keyword to learn about the legislative process, find a state's members of Congress, and access a comprehensive database on current and past legislation. The site also provides a full-text search of the Congressional Record, a daily record of activity in Congress, and committee information. Most official state Web sites provide similar bill-tracking information for state legislatures.
Congressional This link opens in a new window
Index to congressional publications from 1970 to the present, legislative histories for public laws, testimony at congressional hearings, and biographical and committee information. Also allows searching of the Congressional Record and Federal Register.
Federal Election Commission
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is an independent regulatory agency established in 1975 to administer and enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) - the statute that governs the financing of federal elections. The duties of the FEC, which is an independent regulatory agency, are to disclose campaign finance information, to enforce the provisions of the law such as the limits and prohibitions on contributions, and to oversee the public funding of Presidential elections.
Federal Register - Government Documents and online.
A daily publication listing all regulations issued by federal government regulatory bodies as well as presidential proclamations and executive orders. A counterpart for regulations issued by the state of Minnesota is the State Register (Ref KFM5436 .S7 and online).
U.S. Department of Education
Includes information about K12 and higher education. Of particular note are the Laws and Data sections of the site. This department also creates a database of educational research, ERIC.
Minnesota State Government
Information about state agencies, the state legislature, state regulations, and consumer information.
Minnesota State Documents
The website for the Legislative Reference Library in St. Paul. In addition to the catalog for its paper collection, the library has been keeping digital copies of Minnesota state documents since 2004 and scanning older documents to add to the Minnesota Edocs collection. More than 500 pre-2003 documents have been added so far, and the library has compiled a list of titles with links to electronic versions.
Minnesota State Legislature
The homepage of the Minnesota State Legislature, providing information on bills, statutes and laws, in addition to information about committee hearings and schedules.
Free Government Information Blog
Other Sites of Interest
American Presidency Project
This site provides a wealth of information on the presidents, including data from all past elections and an archive of presidential papers, orders, speeches, and statements.
C-SPAN (Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network) is a private, non-profit company, created in 1979 by the cable television industry as a public service. Every C-SPAN program recorded since 1987 can be found in their public archives; notable programming includes interviews, congressional sessions and committee hearings.
Comparative Agendas: Comparing Policies Worldwide
Collects and analyzes data to track policy outcomes in the US and other countries from World War II to the present. Includes downloadable datasets.
A commercial directory to law resources. Includes a handy law dictionary and a well-designed full text database of US Supreme Court decisions from 1893 to the present. Site requires free registration.
Legal Information Institute, Cornell University
A directory to legal information on the web, including texts of case law and statutes for state, federal and international jurisdictions. The site - organized alphabetically by topic - also provides links to court opinions and directories to law organizations and journals. From the Cornell University Law School.
From the Center for Responsive Politics, which is the nation's premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. The center is nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit.
Focused on the Supreme Court of the United States, SCOTUSblog is an excellent resource for keeping up with the happenings of the court, including schedules, transcripts and analyses of current cases.
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