Information and Policies

Government Documents are publications produced by federal government agencies, published and distributed by the Government Printing Office through the Federal Depository Library Program. As a designated selective depository library, Paul Meek Library has participated in this program since 1957, acquiring, free of charge, selected federal government publications in an array of subject areas, in variety of formats. To address University curricular interests, the collection focuses on the fields of agriculture, business, criminal justice, defense, education, health, and science. In addition to these core subjects, we also receive essential congressional, legislative, regulatory, and statistical materials.


Government Documents supports the Library and University's mission as a diverse community of learning. We provide quality government information services with free and equal access to the federal resources for students, faculty and staff of the University, as well as for constituents of the Eighth Congressional District in Tennessee in accordance with Title 44, Chapter 19 of the United States Code. We strive to be outstanding stewards of the government documents which we obtain, manage, and promote to best meet the curricular and research needs of the University. We also encourage and support the use of government documents services and collection by the community at large.


The government publications collection consists of documents in either paper or microfiche format for most of older documents, and full-text, electronic format for the majority of documents after 2007. All new documents are cataloged in the main Library catalog, with links to the full-text when available. In addition, we retrospectively catalog selective older documents deemed as having potential value to users.


The primary finding tool for the government documents in the Library is the online catalog for the items in the library collection; and the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications for documents printed by the Government Printing Office.


The document collection is arranged by the Superintendent of Documents Classification System (SuDoc). Examples for citing government documents are found at:

Most of the documents are located in stacks or microfiche cabinets on the east side of the first floor. The microfiche readers/printers are housed in the Media Department, on the north side of the first floor. Some heavily used materials are incorporated into the Reference Collection on the first floor, or General Collection on the second floor.


Access to government publications is available during all hours of library operation. Provision of reference services by the documents staff is available Monday-Friday, 8:00 A.M.-6:00 P.M. at the Government Documents desk and by the reference desk staff at remaining hours of library operation. We encourage making an appointment for complex, in-depth assistance. Contact us by phone at (731) 881-7073 or e-mail Jim Nance at

Collection Development

Since our designation as a selective federal depository library in 1957, we have built a collection of over 300,000 items in all formats. We select approximately 35% of government publications available through the Federal Depository Library Program.


Selection Responsibility
The government documents librarian has responsibility for selection of materials. Suggestions and consultations with other librarians, staff, students and faculty are welcome and considered. Selection is made in accordance with the Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program with a goal to best meet the curricular, research, professional, and intellectual needs of the UTM community and constituents of the 8th Congressional District. Review of the selection is carried out as an ongoing process, with amendment to item selection done annually and zero-based review completed at least every 5 years.


Every effort is made to ensure currency of the collection and to meet challenges of fluidity of the information world by focusing on full-text electronic resources without neglecting older paper and microfiche documents. Paul Meek Library provides short cataloging records for all government documents after 2007. Short records are also assigned to the selection of New Electronic Titles published in the GPO on a weekly basis. Only those documents which are deemed valuable and important to the Library and its mission receive full cataloging treatment. These publications are retained in the permanent holdings.


De-selection and Weeding
Judicious de-selection and weeding is performed regularly according to the rules of the Federal Depository Library Program and the needs of the library. Documents of passing interest or unused format are retained for at least 5 years and then withdrawn from the collection. All superseded documents are discarded on a regular basis. During weeding, we work closely with the regional documents library at the University of Memphis. We also publish in Needs & Offers, TN and national listservs, and adhere to the rules stated in the Federal Depository Library Handbook.


Subject Scope
Core areas: Agriculture, Business, Criminal Justice, Defense/Military, Education, Health. Core subject areas may change over the years to reflect curricular needs.
Essential areas: Congress/Legislation/Regulations; Demographics/Statistics.



Most of the materials held in the Paul Meek Library Government Documents are available for loan with the following exceptions:

  • Government reference material stamped Non-circulating or Library Use Only
  • Non-circulating videos, CD/DVDs
  • Microfiche
  • Maps
  • Posters

Some of the CD/DVDs are included in books. The circulation period for these is the same as for the books they came with. Most materials may be renewed by phone (731-881-7092), in person at the main Circulation Desk or online for an additional borrowing period unless overdue, on hold, or recalled. Material requested either by other users or reserved for classes will not be renewed. Faculty may borrow materials related to their research or teaching mission until the end of the term. Borrowers are responsible for material checked out in their names. Unreturned items and unpaid fees will result in holds on registration and transcripts. We encourage timely returns and as a courtesy, we allow for 4 day grace period (for non-media materials) after which the full fine is assessed.


Non-university borrowers will be issued a library card for up to 5 items free to check out. These users can also access Internet and non-subscription databases available in the library.


Consult the Circulation Department to learn more about library borrowing policies, or if you have questions or require assistance (731-881-7092).


Jim Nance, Associate Professor; Head, Government Documents & Interlibrary Loans Librarian; Room 143; (731) 881-7073;


Dana Breland, Library Assistant, Room 141; (731) 881-7073;