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About Government Documents

Description Locating Documents
Location Reference Assistance
Hours Borrowing Policy


Serving the 1st Congressional District, Northern Michigan University's Olson Library has been a federal depository library since 1963.  Currently, the library receives about 8.5% of the federal documents distributed by the Government Publishing Office (GPO). There are two other federal depository libraries in the Upper Peninsula portion of the 1st district, Michigan Technological University in Houghton and Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie. The Olson Library also receives documents from the State of Michigan via their depository program.

Documents arriving to the Olson Library cover a variety of subjects and are meant to compliment not only the curriculum and research at Northern Michigan University, but the needs of the general public in the 1st Congressional District as well. Most documents (Federal and State) are now available in an electronic format, accessible through a link in the library catalog. The collection, both electronic and hardcopy, is available to the general public and NMU faculty, staff, and students (for more details, consult the Government Documents' Access Policy). We are also one of several affiliates in the UP of the Center for Shared Solutions & Technology Partnerships (formerly the State Business Data Center/Business & Industry Data Center program). This program is designed to expand access of census statisitcal materials to all citizens.

Government documents (both federal and State of Michigan) arrive to the library regularly. A selection of notable documents are gathered and displayed behind the Reference Desk (these documents can be checked out) and a rotating display of new arrivals is electronically posted near the beginning of every month (these images can be found on the initial government documents webpage here).

Bruce Sarjeant (227-1580) is the Government Documents Librarian.  If you have any questions about the collection or would like to schedule an instruction session, please contact him. His office is LRC 234 (the one with the map of Michigan on the door).


The government documents collection is located on the 2nd floor of the Learning Resources Center (LRC). The following maps will show you the location of the government documents collection in the LRC and the location of the LRC on the NMU campus.


Map- Government documents collection in Olson Library (LRC)

Hours [back to top]

The government documents department is open the same hours as Olson Library. 

Locating Government Documents [back to top]

Both federal and State of Michigan documents can be identified via the library's online catalog. The documents are integrated into the catalog and cannot be searched as a separate collection even though they are housed that way.

Federal documents that NMU does not collect may be located by searching the Catalog of US Government Publications (available free of charge and covering from 1976 to date) or the GPO database (1976 to present; limited to faculty, staff, and students of NMU). These documents might be able through Interlibrary Loan (NMU faculty, staff, and students only), and/or might also be available freely online. The latter is becoming the most common--you can link directly to them from the library catalog.

Federal documents are arranged on the shelves using the Superintendent of Documents Classification System (SuDoc). This system organizes materials by agency, rather than subject as with the Library of Congress system.  SuDoc numbers are strikingly different than LC numbers in their appearance. In contrast, State of Michigan documents are arranged using the Library of Congress system (LC).

Reference Assistance [back to top]

If you have questions about locating a government document on the shelf, please ask at the Reference Desk for assistance. If you have more in depth questions about government documents or maps, please contact Bruce Sarjeant (227-1580), government documents librarian.

Borrowing Policy [back to top]

Faculty, staff, and students of Northern Michigan University can check out government documents for five weeks (1 semester for faculty or graduate assistants).  Most documents will circulate. Census materials, the federal budget, microfiche, and maps & atlases from the map collection do not circulate and must be used in the library.

If you are not associated with the university, you will need to look at the materials in the library (or make photocopies), purchase a community borrower card at the Circulation Desk (227-2250), or request the materials through Interlibrary Loan via your local library.

Questions? Contact Bruce Sarjeant, Reference, Documents & Maps Librarian (227-1580).

Library Hours
Mon: 7:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Tue: 7:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Wed: 7:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Thu: 7:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Fri: 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sat: 12:00 noon - 8:00 p.m.
For exceptions and full year hours