University of Hawaii at Manoa Library


Government Documents Collection, United States Government Documents Collection


Two major separate collections, each with its own classification system, are housed within the Government Documents Collection. They comprise materials from: 1) United States Government agencies and 2) United Nations and its affiliated agencies.

The Collection supports undergraduate and graduate coursework and research in all academic fields, with particular strengths in the fields of agriculture, agricultural economics, military science, natural science and marine biology, urban planning, transportation administration, astronomy, education, medicine and public health, history and political science, and statistics. United States statute and administrative laws and decisions and rules of the U.S. regulatory agencies are also strong. Documents are acquired through official deposit, purchase, or gift.

The Collection is heavily used by University of Hawai'i at Mānoa (UHM) graduate and undergraduate students, Mānoa campus faculty and researchers, East-West Center researchers and staff, the general public, Hawai'i state government agencies, local federal agency offices, off-campus libraries and researchers, business and legal firms, and students at all academic levels. The department strives to ensure free public access to these documents and their continued availability according to the guidelines set by the issuing bodies.


The United States government documents collection includes federal government information products distributed by the Government Printing Office (GPO) through its Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) and non-depository federal publications.

The University of Hawai'i became a selective depository in 1907, when the College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts was established. During World War II, the collection was organized as a separate collection, utilizing the Superintendent of Documents classification scheme. The collection became the Regional Depository Library for the State of Hawai'i in 1977. As a Regional, the library receives and retains at least one copy of all new and revised FDLP tangible publications. Regional status, at first, did not change collection activities, as the policy had been, since the early 1960's, to accept all items offered by GPO.

The flash flood of October 2004 destroyed 95% of the Government Documents Collection. Collection rebuilding has dominated collecting activities since that time. Flood replacement materials have been acquired primarily as gifts from other libraries. Additional replacements are purchased as needed.

Non-depository federal publications are added selectively to the collection. Many of these publications were formerly obtained through the Library of Congress Documents Expediting Project (DOCEX or DEP). They are currently acquired by direct contact with federal agencies, by gift, or by purchase. These documents are reviewed for inclusion if they support the current curriculum and research needs, user interest, geographic area covered (i.e., Hawai'i and the Pacific), or fill gaps in the collection at the discretion of the government documents librarians.

GPO's transition to a more electronic FDLP has resulted in the migration of many former tangible products to online access. The Government Documents Collection web page provides links to GPO Access and the FDLP Electronic Collection and as well as other federal government information.


The collection serves as the Regional Depository Library for eight selective depositories in the state and four selective depositories in the Pacific area. Duties and obligations are defined by GPO in their Federal Depository Library Handbook (FDL Handbook) (Revised 2008).

There are no formal cooperative collecting agreements within the region. Because the selective depository libraries lack the funding, space, or historical focus of this collection, it is assumed by all Hawai'i depositories that the UHM will acquire and retain permanently large retrospective collections, whether paper, microfiche, or electronic. By mutual agreement, the Federal Documents Section of the Hawai`i State Library purchased on microfiche the deposit and non-deposit entries indexed in the Congressional Information Service's American Statistical Index for the period 1977 through 1996. The subscription has been cancelled since then due to budget cuts. The William S. Richardson School of Law Library continues to purchase on microfiche the Congressional documents in CIS Index to Congressional Publications.

Documents covering Hawai'i or the Pacific are routed to the appropriate area collections for current awareness; additional copies are purchased by, and housed in, the area collections. A 1984 policy on non-duplication of government documents materials limits holdings in other collections.


As the UHM Library has increasingly emphasized access over ownership, the Government Documents Collection has obtained subscriptions to several electronic resources that provide full-text access to government publications, particularly those destroyed in the October 2004 flood.

Microfilms of government documents have been acquired for other collections and housed in the Hamilton Library microforms room. As space and preservation needs become more pronounced, microfilms to replace deteriorated volumes such as the early twentieth century census reports have been purchased. Microforms produced by Law Library Microform Consortium (LLMC) have been obtained for many legal titles, and access to some of these publications is also available through LLMC-Digital.

Reports written in fulfillment of federal contract requirements by individuals, universities, or corporations are not considered to be federal publications and are not usually added to the collection. The collection does not acquire commercial directories, political analysis studies, reporter services, current awareness services, etc., except for those finding aids that index and interpret documents material directly. These include the LexisNexis American Statistical Index and Congressional Information Index.

Trade or university press imprints "sponsored by" an agency are not added to the collection unless there is a statement that it is "published for" or "on behalf of" the agency.

Sea-grant publications are not included in the federal depository, nor are they included in the Government Documents Collection by other means.

Local United States government imprints are not collected; Special Collections adds this material when it is related to Hawai'i or the Pacific.

The FDLP provides a password for selected fee-based online government titles; however, the Library also has paid subscriptions to make these services as well as selected non-government online services more widely available to our clientele. These include Stat-USA, World News Connection, and MarciveWeb Docs.


Materials are retained in compliance with the Superseded List and updates to the list maintained by the FDLP. In addition, materials relating to Hawai'i and the Pacific are retained even when superseded and are marked "superseded." Second copies or copies in other formats are not retained unless the material relates to Hawai'i or the Pacific. Paper copies may be replaced with microforms or electronic resources as described in Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Programand (PDF).

Compiled by: Gwen Sinclair
Date: July 2008

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