The Houston Lyceum Library was designated a depository library for the First Congressional District of Texas by Congressman Charles Stewart in March of 1884. What was begun with the Lyceum has been carried forward with the Houston Public Library. As the oldest and largest depository in the Houston area, the library maintains a reference collection of over 900,000 documents from nearly every government agency. Citizens of Houston have benefited greatly over the 130 year period by having free access to information generated by the federal government.
The collection currently is comprised of over 900,000 documents from virtually every agency of the federal government. Documents come in many formats including books, pamphlets, periodicals, CDs, and maps. A number of government documents are online and accessible directly from the catalog via PURL.
The Government Documents collection is a closed-stack, non-circulating collection. Search the catalog to locate items. Many items are available electronically. Check with staff to find materials older than 1976. Materials must be retrieved by staff members for use in the library.
An extensive amount of government information is also available via the internet and serve as useful information tools:
- Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government -- -- Learn about the Federal Government for Kids (K thru 12), parents and teachers.
- Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) - the finding tool for electronic and print publications from the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the U.S. government. These publications make up the National Bibliography of U.S. Government Publications. The CGP contains descriptive records for historical and current publications and provides direct links to those that are available online.
- Congress.gov (formerly THOMAS) - official website for U.S. federal legislative information. The site provides access to accurate, timely, and complete legislative information for Members of Congress, legislative agencies, and the public. It is presented by the Library of Congress (LOC) using data from the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, the Government Printing Office, Congressional Budget Office, and the LOC's Congressional Research Service.
- Fedstats -- been available to the public since 1997 and provides access to the full range of official statistical information produced by the Federal Government without having to know in advance which Federal agency produces which particular statistic. With convenient searching and linking capabilities to more than 100 agencies that provide data and trend information on such topics as economic and population trends, crime, education, health care, aviation safety, energy use, farm production and more, FedStats is your one location for access to the full breadth of Federal statistical information.
- FedWorld -- National Technical Information Service access point for locating and ordering federal government information.
- GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) - provides free online access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government. About 50 different collections of Federal Government information are available to browse, search, and download. FDsys offers authentic, digitally signed PDF documents.
- USA.gov - official web portal that makes it easy for the public to get U.S. government information and services on the web.
- The White House - Official site of the White House, includes virtual library of documents, speeches, press releases, and latest news and statistics.