Frequently Asked Questions
Government documents are the official publications (in whatever format -- print, microfiche, or electronic) of a government body (local, state, national, or international). In the Cornette Library, "government documents" refers to a separate collection consisting of the publications of the United States and Texas governments.
Among the many subject areas which can be found in our collection are:
- political and legislative debate
- laws and regulations
- population and vital statistics
- historical records of government
- studies of foreign countries
- agricultural extension service brochures and reports
- business and economic statistics
- educational policy studies
- health information
- science policy and analysis
- State Department travel warnings
Some subjects and publications, however, are not usually found in government documents. Government information published by private companies as well as cooperative publications (those jointly published by the government and a private organization) are not included. Therefore, we do not receive the Census microfilm which includes detailed biographical and genealogical information. (However, this information is available in databases such as Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest that are available at some public libraries with genealogy services, such as the Amarillo Public Library Downtown Branch.) We also do not receive the publications of political parties or campaigns. While election information can be found, it tends to be the results of elections, not campaign information from politicians who are not yet government officials.
The Cornette Library is in the center of the West Texas A&M University campus (Building 17). You may park on campus with a free Visitor Parking Permit, available from the JBK Information Desk (Building 2) or University Police Department (Building 8). 30-minute parking spaces do not require a parking permit. More parking information.
The Documents Unit is on the second floor of the Cornette Library in the southeast corner. Turn left at the top of the east stairs.
- Documents Desk
- Where to go for help finding government documents or any kind of government information.
- A small collection of heavily used documents. Ask for help at the Documents Desk.
- Specialized indexes and abstracts to government documents. Ask for help at the Documents Desk.
- Access to the government CD-ROMs and the Internet. Computers are freely available to the public, but require special login and password. Ask for help at the Documents Desk.
- A card catalog of our United States documents holdings prior to 1995. Organized by SuDoc number (no subject, title, etc. cards). Ask for help at the Documents Desk.
- Documents listed as "Government Documents Dept. - US Documents Microfiche Cabinet" in the online catalog or stamped MICROFICHE in the Shelflist. Organized by SuDoc number. Ask for help at the Documents Desk.
- Maps and posters are shelved in the map cases. The 7.5 minute USGS topographical maps of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado are shelved alphabetically by state and then by map name. The rest of the collection is organized by SuDoc number. Ask for help at the Documents Desk.
- Online Catalog
- All of our government documents published after 1994 may be located using the online catalog. One of our walk-up kiosks is located on the second floor near the photocopier. (No login password needed.) Ask for help at the Documents Desk.
- Texas Documents
- Most of our Texas documents are shelved in aisles east of the map cases. Ask for help at the Documents Desk.
- United States Documents
- The vast majority of our collection consists of United States documents in print, microfiche, and electronic formats.
Yes. Most documents may be checked out at the Research & Access Desk on the first floor of the library. Items which cannot be checked out include:
- reference material
- some periodicals
- some maps
- some census material
- documents in fragile condition.
If you have any questions, ask at the Documents Desk or at the Research & Access Desk.
Yes. Access is available at four computers in the Government Documents Unit. While not reserved exclusively for Government Documents Unit patrons, priority will be given to patrons requesting government information. As all computers require a user ID and password, members of the public are cheerfully logged in by library staff.
All four computers may be used to search the library's online catalog, view government Web sites, and search the Internet. The online catalog is also available at a walk-up catalog-only kiosk located on the second floor near the photocopier (no login needed).
Most government DVDs and CD-ROMs may be checked out at the Research & Access Desk. To use them at any of the library's public computers, patrons must check out a DVD/CD-ROM player from the Research & Access Desk (library use only).
Yes. The Documents Unit collects maps, primarily of the five-state region (Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado), and has:
- USGS topographical maps (print and CD-ROM)
- Surface Management maps
- county highway maps for Texas
- soil survey maps
The 7.5 minute USGS topographic maps of the five-state region are shelved on the west side of the map cases, alphabetically by state and then by map name. Primary copies of the Texas Panhandle region do not circulate, please ask for a secondary circulating copy. The rest of the collection is organized by SuDoc number. See explanations for 7.5 minute quadrangles or topographic maps. Ask for help at the Documents Desk.
The soil survey maps of the five-state region are shelved in the US Docs shelves. Look up the call number in the online catalog. Primary copies of the Texas Panhandle region do not circulate, please ask for a secondary circulating copy. Soil surveys are also available online at the NRCS Web Soil Survey. Older (pre-1950) soil surveys are also available in print in the library or online at The Portal to Texas History.
To find other maps from the BLM (Bureau of Land Management), Census, or CIA, use the library's online catalog and set limits to the format of "map." Since the library catalog does not include all maps published before 1995, use the GPO Monthly Catalog via FirstSearch to search for SuDoc numbers of maps older than 1995.
Yes. The Government Documents Librarian is available to give speeches and presentations to classes or to professional, civic, or other groups. Possible subjects include:
- the depository library program
- finding government information
- Internet-accessible government information
- the use of specific electronic or print products
- and other specialized topics
To schedule a presentation, contact the Government Documents Librarian, Carolyn Ottoson, through e-mail at email@example.com or by calling (806)651-2204.
Both the United States and Texas governments make their publications available to the general public through depository programs, which means that the Cornette Library receives documents free from the government in exchange for making them freely available to all the public, not just to WTAMU students, faculty, and staff. The Cornette Library became a depository for United States documents in 1928. While we are officially the depository library for the 13th Congressional District in Texas, we encourage residents throughout the Panhandle as well as nearby states to use our collection. We joined the Texas depository program on its creation in 1974 but our Texas documents collection dates back into the 1930s. Because more and more federal and state government information is now available online, we also provide access to government information via the Internet.
The Cornette Library is a partial (or "selective") depository for United States documents, currently receiving 58% of the items available from the Government Printing Office. In particular, we emphasize those subjects which are of interest to the people of the Panhandle and the five state region of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado. Some of the strengths of the collection include:
- Census and Population
- Health Care
- Law and legislation
- Native Americans
We also collect maps, primarily of the five-state region, including USGS topographical maps (paper and CD-ROM), as well as photomaps and county highway maps for Texas.
In addition to selective depositories, there are full (or "regional") depository libraries which receive everything the United States government publishes. The nearest regional depository is the Texas Tech University Library in Lubbock.
Some of the strengths of the Texas documents collection include:
- Law and legislation
While the Texas State Publications Depository Program was severely curtailed in June of 2010, the Cornette Library is one of the Texas State Depository Libraries that retained their collection and has staff who continue to assist patrons with the Texas Depository resources.
Government Documents Service Desk Hours
Most government documents are available when the library is open. The service desk hours for the Government Documents Unit vary according to the academic calendar. You may also call us at (806) 651-2205 during business hours.
|Monday - Friday||7:45am - 5:00pm|
|Saturday - Sunday||Closed|
Exceptions/Holidays/Regular Semesters and Intersessions
Check the Cornette Library online calendar for holidays, exceptions, and dates of regular semesters and intersessions.
- Thanksgiving weekend
- Christmas/New Year's Holiday
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- Further dates posted upon designation by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents
Alternate Resources - Library Closed
Online resources in the Cornette Library's online catalog are available 24/7. Our government information pages point to helpful online resources. The govinfo web site may also be useful.
If you need to speak to a person try:
- Texas State Library & Archives Commission
- Telephone: (512) 463-5455
- TSL Hours
- Texas Tech University
- Telephone: (806) 742-2268
- TTU Hours
- University of North Texas - Sycamore Library
- UNT Government Documents Reference Services
- Telephone: (940) 565-4745
- Library Hours
- Locate a Federal Depository Libraries
- Clickable map with contact information for depository libraries throughout the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- Texas State Depository Libraries
- Use for questions related to Texas (NOT federal) government publications. Although this program was severely curtailed in June 2011, the former participating libraries are still dedicated to assisting you.
Assistance finding documents and using equipment is available at the Documents Service Desk in the Cornette Library during normal business hours. After-hours assistance is available from the 2nd floor Information Desk.
Appointments for more extensive reference assistance may be made by contacting Carolyn Ottoson, the Government Documents Librarian, through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (806) 651-2204.
Who may use this service?
- Residents of the Texas Panhandle
- WTAMU students, faculty, and staff
What kinds of questions may be asked?
- those requiring brief, factual information (for example phone numbers, addresses, definitions)
- inquiries concerning the selection and use of electronic government databases and resources
- assistance finding government Web sites
- requests for information on Cornette Library's United States and Texas documents holdings and services
What kinds of questions are not appropriate for this service?
- medical, legal, tax, or business advice
- subjects which do not involve United States or Texas government sources (WTAMU affiliates see our Ask a Librarian instructions instead)
- those requiring extensive research, analysis, or interpretation (For more complex questions, stop by the Documents Desk or call us at (806) 651-2205.)
- requests for borrowing or photocopying materials from our collection (WTAMU affiliates may call (806) 651-2406 for information on ordering materials not in our collection through Interlibrary Loan.)
When can I expect a reply?
- normally within 48 hours excluding weekends and holidays
Yes. WTAMU faculty who want to place documents on Course Reserve should contact the Government Documents Librarian, Carolyn Ottoson, at email@example.com or (806) 651-2204. Documents can be placed on Reserve at the Research & Access Desk or, for short periods of time, at the Documents Desk. Please give us at least one week before class begins in order to process your requests.
Extended Interlibrary Loan is also possible for faculty at other educational institutions who need to place government documents on reserve at their library. Contact the Government Documents Librarian, Carolyn Ottoson, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (806) 651-2204 for more information.
How can off-campus students and faculty, and also community members not nearby, get assistance from the Government Documents Unit of the Cornette Library?
By telephone to (806) 651-2204: Assistance available over the telephone includes checking availability of specific titles, answering ready reference questions, and doing preliminary research to determine the amount of material available on a particular subject.
By e-mail to email@example.com: Assistance available via e-mail includes checking availability of specific titles, finding government information online, answering ready reference questions, and doing preliminary research to determine the amount of material available on a particular subject. Guides to government information available online can be found at Government Documents page.
Documents found will be held at the Documents Desk for one week. Faxes and photocopies are generally not provided. Patrons unable to visit the Cornette Library themselves to borrow or photocopy documents should consult their local library about Interlibrary Loan procedures.