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Government Documents


The Garret W. McEnerney Law Library became a selective federal depository in 1963. Because U.S. documents are an important part of the Library’s collection, they are selected, housed and made available with the same care that is accorded material acquired from other sources. The majority of depository documents that we receive are integrated into our general collection, fully accessible through our LawCat online catalog. Documents that we keep only for the required 5-year period also receive brief cataloging in LawCat. Reference service for documents is provided by all members of the reference staff at our central Reference Desk located in the Library lobby. All members of the Berkeley community, including students, faculty, staff, local attorneys and judges, and members of the public may use documents at all times the Library is open.

The Law Library is one of several federal depositories in the San Francisco Bay Area. The closest depository is the Doe Library on the Berkeley campus, and documents that we do not collect are usually available there. The holdings of our regional depository, the California State Library in Sacramento, are found on the Melvyl catalog.


In addition to serving the needs of Berkeley campus
users, the Library also provides law-related government information
to the entire local community. Major influences on the local economy
include higher education, health care and technology. The ten largest
employers in Berkeley are: the University of California at Berkeley;
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (UC/US Dept. of Energy); Alta
Bates Medical Center; the City of Berkeley; the Berkeley Unified School
District; Bayer Corporation (pharmaceutical manufacturing); Kaiser Permanente
Medical Group (health support services); California Department of Health
Services (public health lab); Pacific Steel Casting Company; and Andronico’s
Market (grocer). Among cultural and recreational businesses, Berkeley
has 32 movie screens, 31 bookstores and 414 restaurants. Its 608 business
services firms include many in computer software, engineering and architecture.
More detailed information about Berkeley is available online, including
the community profile provided by the Berkeley
Chamber of Commerce
. The Law Library is located in the Ninth Congressional
District, and extensive information about the communities in that District
is found at the District’s website.


It is the policy of the Law Library to comply with the law governing depository libraries (Title 44, Chapter 19 of the United States Code) by conforming to the policies and procedures in the Federal Depository Library Handbook.


The primary function of the Law Library is to support research, teaching and study by Law School faculty and students. The library also serves the entire UC Berkeley community by supporting the many law-related courses taught in other university departments. The library is open to the general public, and focuses on serving law-related community needs.

The library currently selects 13% of the items available to depository libraries. Documents are collected in print, microfiche and electronic formats. In addition to providing access to items in the FDLP Basic Collection, the library selects items that meet the research and curriculum needs of law students and faculty. We also consider the requirements of law-related undergraduate and graduate courses and the interests of our public patrons. Our collection concentrates first on primary legal materials including court decisions, codes, regulations, regulatory agency decisions, treaties and Congressional publications. In addition, we collect agency publications dealing with environmental issues, intellectual property, judicial administration, taxation, international trade, employment discrimination, immigration and human rights. We collect publications dealing with specific acts, such as ERISA and the ADA, that are of interest to all of our users. We rely on the Doe Library on the Berkeley campus and on our Regional Depository at the California State Library to select in areas not central to our mission.

The Documents Coordinator, in consultation with the Collection Development Committee when necessary, selects new item numbers to be added during the Selection Update Cycle and item numbers to be deselected. The Documents Coordinator reviews the Government Information Quarterly and monitors GOVDOC-L to identify non-depository items to be added to the collection. We select in all formats, but prefer paper because of our responsibility to maintain an historical collection. It is our policy permanently to retain paper copies of core titles such as the United States Code, the Code of Federal Regulations and the Federal Register in order to facilitate historical research. We provide links in our online catalog to electronic resources. We also provide links from our web pages to services such as GPO Access, FDsys (the Federal Digital System) and Thomas. We supplement depository materials with commercially produced indexes, microfiche sets, and databases. Major examples include the Lexis Nexis Congressional, which includes the CIS Congressional Index, CIS microfiche (1970-date) and Oceana’s U.S. Treaties and International Agreements online.

The Library maintains a deposit account with the Government Printing Office to purchase additional copies of heavily-used titles such as the Federal Register, the Code of Federal Regulations, the United States Code and the United States Reports. This account is also used to purchase replacement copies.


U.S. Government documents are accessible to all users, including members of the public, at all hours the Library is open. See Library Hours for complete information.

The Library’s stacks are open to all users and all levels are accessible by elevator. A staff member is available to retrieve material upon request if needed. All patrons are eligible to use our reserve and reference materials by making a request at the Patron Services Desk or the Reference Desk located in the Library lobby.

Documents are bibliographically accessible through our online LawCat catalog. Documents added to the permanent collection are fully cataloged and may be searched by author, title, call number, subject, keyword, or Superintendent of Documents number. Brief records are included in LawCat for materials retained only for the required five-year period.

Reference assistance is available during the academic year from 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Friday, and 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (see Library Hours for additional information). Reference librarians help patrons identify documents and online government information using a variety of indexes and databases. If the Law Library does not have a particular document, the reference librarians use a variety of online catalogs, including Melvyl and WorldCat, to locate the item in a nearby depository.

Several public terminals are available in the Law Library for use by all patrons. General Internet access is provided, with specific links from the Library’s online research page to major government sources such as GPO Access and Thomas.


The Law Library fully catalogs the majority of the documents received on deposit. They are classified using the Library of Congress Classification System and integrated in the LawCat online catalog and on the shelf. Cataloging is done by the same professional staff that catalogs material received from other sources.

Documents not added to the permanent collection are shelved by Superintendent of Documents number in a designated area of the stacks. Generally these are ephemeral materials, or beyond the mission of the Library. Brief records for these titles are included in LawCat.


Federal documents added permanently to the collection are bound using the same criteria used for all other material. Binding is handled by the Head of Conservation and Processing, with the support of the Binding Assistant.


Because the Law Library is a research collection, cataloged titles are rarely weeded. We routinely discard material that is superseded, such as advance sheets and replaced loose-leaf pages, according to the Federal Depository Library Handbook.

Depository materials are evaluated upon receipt for inclusion in the
permanent collection. Those chosen for the permanent collection receive
full cataloging, and those chosen for the five-year collection receive brief
records and are color-coded for identification and removal after five
years. A list is generated for review by our Regional Depository Library.
The material is then offered on Needs and Offers lists, and what is not
chosen is discarded.


Missing documents are identified by patrons and Library staff using the collection or reviewing holdings in LawCat. If the item was received at the Law Library, a search request is filed at the Patron Services Desk. After the completion of the standard search process (3 searches over a two-month period), a decision is made whether to replace the item. Documents are replaced by ordering from the GPO or issuing agency, or from a commercial source if available. If an item is essential and cannot be obtained from these sources, we will acquire a duplicate in paper or fiche from a holding library.


No distinction in circulation policy is made between federal documents and other materials in the permanent collection. Primary materials (codes, regulations, decisions) and Congressional materials do not circulate. Other materials circulate to BerkeleyLaw students and faculty, and to graduate students in other campus departments. We do not circulate to members of the public.


The Law Library promotes use of depository materials by making their availability as widely known as possible. Depository stickers are displayed on doors to the building as well as on doors to the Library. Documents are cataloged in our LawCat online catalog, which is available to all users from our web site. Cataloged items also appear in the Melvyl catalog and in RLIN.

The Documents Coordinator participates in two local documents groups, the San Francisco Bay Area Documents Network and the UC/Stanford Government Information Librarians (GILS). A list of links to participating San Francisco Bay Area Documents Libraries is provided from the web site of the San Francisco Public Library. Through email and meetings, member libraries share information on policies, new selections, and new GPO services.