Government information collection policy

The majority of the library’s government publications from government agencies and international governmental organizations are held in the Maps, Data and Government Information Centre collection.  Some government publications such as general reference tools, statute law and administrative law reports, scientific and technical reports that are not oriented to public policy, publications of cultural institutions such as art galleries, libraries and museums are located in the library’s main collection.

Government publications have traditionally been in paper and maps with some also available in various microtext formats such as microfilm and microfiche.  Since the mid-nineties, there has been a major shift in government information access and delivery to a variety of electronic media. Today government information is mainly delivered through various internet channels and formats including websites, HTML, PDF, and other software based documents, databases, Geographic Information Systems, and audio and video webcasts.  Print documents still remain an important part of government information collections although electronic access and delivery is more prevalent.

Definition of a ‘government publication’

  • Specifically, government publications are those issued or published by the executive, legislative and judicial functions of governments at all levels - international, national, federal, local governmental bodies and intergovernmental bodies.
  • The UNESCO Convention concerning the Exchange of Official Publications and Government Documents between States (1958) considered publications when… executed by the order of and at the expense of any national government authority to be official publications: Parliamentary documents, reports and journals and other legislative papers, administrative publications and reports from central, federal and regional governmental bodies; national bibliographies, state handbooks, bodies of law, decisions of the courts of Justice; and any other publications as may be agreed. (National Library Foreign Official Documents collection policy, 2002)
  • For Canadian official publications:  Canadian crown corporations and Canadian boards and commissions (including royal commissions) shall be considered to be governmental bodies... this will include briefs submitted to commissions, boards and task forces which function in a similar manner to boards and commissions. (Canada Yearbook 1970/71 ed. p. 152)

The library’s government information collection is very strong due to its size, depth of coverage and collecting activity over time as it grew in step with graduate programs at Carleton.  Doctoral level support is provided for disciplines such as Anthropology, Business, Canadian Studies, Economics, Geography and Environmental Studies, History/Public History, International Affairs, Legal Studies, Political Science, Public Policy and Administration, and Sociology (including Criminology). Extensive Masters level support is available for Architecture, Industrial Design, European and Russian Studies, Environmental Science, Film Studies, Geoscience, Journalism, Mass Communication, Social Work and Women's Studies.

General collection policy guidelines

  • Material is selected for the collection by government information specialists within budgetary limits assigned to this collection.  Particular attention is paid to academic subject profiles developed for library selectors and to new or developing areas of research interest.  Information about government information holdings is also incorporated into subject statements made for assessment purposes.
  • Emphasis is on official publications from Canada, its provinces and territories, Great Britain, the United States, the United Nations, the International Labour Organisation, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Union. Material from other countries is selectively acquired.
  • Material is collected in paper, microform and electronic formats and provides coverage for both current and retrospective time periods.  Special attention is given to the identification and selection of full text, statistical and other relevant online government information databases either by subscription or on the open Web. A full list of government information databases can be seen in the databases list on the library’s website. 
  • Language of material is generally limited to major European languages with some exceptions for statistics.
  • Major publications and ongoing serial titles issued on the Web are added to the library's catalogue to ensure access and inclusion in the collection profile.
  • Very few government publications are issued in non-visual formats. If alternative format material is required, arrangements are made according to AODA to obtain appropriate media for clients.
  • Government publications donated to the library are accepted for the collection only if they are appropriate to the research and teaching needs of the university and fit into the overall collection policy. 

August, 2015 (rev.)

Policy Attachment: