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Federal Documents in Paper Format

How to Find SuDoc Numbers
Locations of Documents

Older Documents
Weather Documents
Free or For-Sale Documents

Most new documents are on the Internet.  All .gov and .mil websites are accessible from any Public Access Catalog computer in any city library branch.  There is no time limit for use.  You do not need a library card or reservation to use the Public Access Catalog computers.

Introduction to the Document Collection

Spokane Public Library has been part of the Federal Depository Library Program since 1910.    Documents may have been sent in the format of books, magazines, microfiche, pamphlets, maps, forms, and CD-ROMs.  90% of the most recent federal documents are now on the Internet.  If we still receive a paper copy, new documents are often cataloged into the Library Catalog with location notes and with links to their Internet sites.


How to Find a Document Title and SuDoc Number

Spokane Public Library Catalog.   If you know an exact title of a document, try it in Title Search; or try a keyword search, such as:  Washington census 1970.   Many paper documents are listed in the Catalog now, but most of the documents in storage or on microfiche or on CD are not listed in the SPL Catalog.

The documents in storage are shelved in order by SuDoc number.  Since the older documents often are not cataloged, you may first need to search for a SuDoc number:

Catalog of U.S. Government Publications is one finding tool for federal document titles and for their SuDoc numbers.    It includes historical and current publications and provides links to those that are available online.  If you have questions, ask at our Information Desk.


Locations of Documents in the Downtown Library

If we still receive a paper copy of a document, it may be shelved on the Second Floor Documents Shelves.  Documents are arranged on the shelf in alphabetical order by agency.  Instead of aDewey Decimal Call Number, they are assigned a Superintendent ofDocuments number called a SuDoc Number.  This number  usually startswith the first letter(s) of the agency that published the document;such as: "A" for Department of Agriculture, "EP" for EnvironmentalProtection Agency, "SSA" for Social Security Administration, etc.

There is also a Documents Display Shelf in the Second Floor Documents area.   Pamphlets and maps may be filed in the Vertical Files:  Reference VF, Travel VF, Government Document VF, the Topo map files, and on the Foreign Language Shelf.  

The Microfiche and CD-ROM Documents cabinets are also on the second floor.   Government CD-ROMs are available for check-out.  The CD-ROMs are kept in the drawers on the north side of the microfiche cabinets. 

Government periodicals are often kept with the other magazines on the third floor.  Selected historical documents are kept in the Northwest History Room and in the Genealogy Department.  The oldest  documents go back over 100 years and are often kept in storage. These titles may be requested at the Information Desk on the secondfloor.

If a document is not owned by Spokane Public Library, it may be requested from other libraries through the Interlibrary Loan Service .  Requests often take 2-8 weeks.  Fill out the I.L.L. form at your local library where you have a library card.  At SPL, this service is available only to patrons who have a current valid city resident library card.


Older Documents

Are you trying to find the title or SuDoc number of an older document?

Try these multi-volume indexes that are kept on the Federal Documents Index shelves:  

Cumulated Title Index 1789-1976  or  Cumulated Subject Index 1900-1971 (this index refers you to a page in the Monthly Catalogs.)  If the Subject Index gives you a complete title, look this title up in the Cumulated Title Index 1789-1976.  

The Monthly Catalogs of United States Government Documents (1895-1995) is an annual listing of documents and is kept on the Federal Documents Index shelf.

CIS Serial Set Indexes. (1789-1992)    Reference  328.73 Congress
The Serial Set consists of The American State Papers and other Congressional documents and reports, selected executive branch publications, and reports of certain non-governmental organizations.   Ask for assistance at the Reference and Information Desk on the second floor.

Most of these older documents do not circulate; they are available for In-Library-Use only.  Some of them are too fragile to photocopy. Please ask for permission to photocopy; a special book-photocopy machine is available.

If you want to try to find an older document full-text on the Internet, try the sites on our page for Historical Documents .

The Downtown Spokane Public Library maintains paper copies of current public laws and older public laws.   Ask for these titles:

U.S. Code      Reference OVERSIZE 348.7323 UNITED  (on second floor)

United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (on second floor)
Reference 345 Un3mcc (1941-present).   There may also be paperback copies on the circulating shelves for check-out:    345 Un3mcc  1961-

The Statutes at Large of the United States    (kept in Storage) 
Reference 345 Un3Ls      1873 - 

If you want to find laws and regulations full-text on the Internet, try our page for Federal Law and Regulations


Weather Documents

Historical Climatological Data for Spokane (1881-) and other states is available in paper copy on the Federal Documents Shelf and in the Northwest History Room in the Downtown Library:

Spokane:  1940- the present     Binders are on Reference  
C 55.287/50  (older data is in the NW Room)
Washington:  1931- the present    Binders are on Reference
C 55.214/44
Climatological Data for the UNITED STATES by state and city and by month and year.  1940-1948.   Comparative databack to 1890.  Hard Bound set.   7 volumes of this title are on the Reference Documents Shelf;   36 volumes are in storage.     C 30.18:

Washington Monthly Climatological Data  11/1983 to 5/1995  
C 55.214/44:  microfiche
Washington Hourly Precipitation Data 1/1984 to 2/1991   
C 55.216/40:    microfiche
Washington Monthly Local Climatological Data  10/1984 to2/1994  
C 55.286/6-49: microfiche
Washington Monthly Local Climatological Data  12/1983 to9/1984  
C 55.287/50:     microfiche

In the Northwest History Room of the Downtown Public Library:

"Spokane Weather Station.  Records, 1889 - 1909."  United States Weather Bureau.    
NW R  OVERSIZE  551.5  UN34   Volumes 1 - 8

"Climatic summary of the United States : climatic data here in from the establishment of stations to 1930, inclusive" / [ed. by R.J. Martin and E. Corbin, Division of Climate and Crop Weather, J.B. Kincer, Chief]. Washington, D.C. : U.S. Govt. Print. Off., [1932-1937]

"Record temperature extremes for Spokane : February 1881-December 1960."  United States. Weather Bureau. Spokane Station
NW R  OVERSIZE  551.5  UN34R

"Washington climate for these counties: Adams, Lincoln, Spokane, Whitman."   1965  [by Earl L. Phillips]     Pullman, Agricultural Extension Service,Washington State University. 

The National Weather Service Office in Spokane, Washington provides forecasts and climate data for Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.  
The Western Regional Climate Center provides Climate Historical Summaries for Western U.S. Cities.   It also links to Precipitation Maps and Precipitation Frequency Maps for the Western U.S.   You can also link to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), other Regional Climate Centers (RCC's), and State Climate Offices.
 The National Climatic Data Center Online Document Library
A password is no longer required. 


Free Documents or For-Sale Document

You may find information and order free or low-cost documents at the Federal Citizen Information Center in Pueblo, CO.
GPO Bookstore  You can search for titles of documents on the official online bookstore for the Government Printing Office.    You may purchase documents online, via fax, mail, or telephone (1-866-512-1800)  
Some documents may be found on or purchased directly from the publishing agency.  Search that agency's web site  for free copies or for information about buying copies. 

Claitor's is a private company that offers a large inventory of U.S. Government books and publications (including some titles that may be out-of-print at the GPO). You can browse the GPO Sales Product Catalog on their site or contact Claitor's by e-mail, by telephone (1-800-274-1403), or by fax (1-225-344-0480).
AbeBooks is an online marketplace for professional booksellers of rare books, historical documents, textbooks, and new books.


City of Spokane


Spokane Public Library • 906 W. Main Spokane, WA 99201 • 509.444.5300


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