Finding Tangible Government Documents in the Pritzker Legal Research Center

U.S. Documents

The Pritzker Legal Research Center has been a selective depository for U.S. government documents since 1978. These materials are received from the Government Printing Office (GPO) which is one of the world's largest publishers. The GPO is an excellent source for reference information on all activities of U.S. agencies and authoritative statistical information on a broad array of topics, particularly in the area of criminal justice. The material received on depository is available in a variety of formats: paper, microfiche, CD-ROM, and Internet locations. The vast majority of these U.S. documents have been cataloged by the library and are listed in NuCAT online catalog system. While Northwestern University's Law Library has been a federal depository only since 1978, the library acquired many documents before this time by other means. The Pritzker Legal Research Center has centrally located many of its U.S. documents in the U.S. documents area on the 2 nd floor of the library and the materials are arranged in the location D, USG by Superintendent of Documents classification numbers.

The Superintendent of Documents system groups together documents by department, agencies, or bureaus with subordinate agencies grouped under the parent organization. A letter symbol is assigned for each agency or executive office, the judiciary, and congressional committees. The symbols are derived from a distinctive word of the agency name or congressional committee. For example the J stands for Justice Department, L for Labor Department, and S for State Department. The Superintendent of Document letter is followed by a number signifying the subordinate division within the main governmental agency, which is responsible for publishing the particular document.

The four parts of a Superintendent of Document number are separated by various punctuation marks that divide the classification number into parts. To find a document the following approach is used: first, check the letter or letters at the beginning of the classification number. Second check the whole number up to the period. Third, check the whole number up to the next punctuation mark. Lastly the number or letter/number combination following the colon is used. Below is an example of the correct shelving order of Superintendent of Documents numbers:

J1.1:996

J16.2:C86

J16.2:J98

J29.9:996

J29.9/2:996

How Can an Individual Document be Located in the Northwestern University Law Library or the Main University Library?

The majority of U.S. government documents are added to the Pritzker Legal Research collection and are listed in Northwestern University's online catalog, NUCat. The online system can be searched by, author, title, subject, Superintendent of Documents number (under the call number option), and by various keywords. NUCat not only lists U.S. documents held by the Pritzker Legal Research Center but also the University Library Government Documents Department and the other branch libraries of NU. Remember that the location D, USG is the location symbol for documents of the U.S. government held by the law library and these as well as the Documents Reference area (D,REF location) and Documents staff are located on the 2 nd floor of the Library. The telephone number for Documents assistance is (312)503-7344.

What if the Law Library does not Own the Document I need?

Interlibrary loan service is available for Northwestern University law students and faculty (including a service that will pick up documents from the main university library). Other users of the Pritzker Legal Research Center can consult with the Documents staff for assistance in locating U.S. documents held by other depository libraries in the area.

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