Week 6: Government Documents, Directories and Bibliographic Sources


Government Documents, Directories and Bibliographic Sources

Government documents are publications issued by or on behalf of federal, state and local governments. Palo Alto College Library has a government documents collection. You can access them from the library homepage under web subject index. Go to government documents. These documents can be useful for a variety of reasons. You might use some of them in classes you take, and you might need some of the information in them in your own personal life. In the Palo Alto LRC the government documents are located in the stacks according to the Library of Congress subject they fall under, and they are marked with a government document logo. We also have them on microfiche and on the online catalog.


Directories are most often used to identify and contact people or organizations. But, directories are used for more than just “looking people up”. They can be used in different ways. In marketing and public relations, directories can serve as special purpose mailing lists for samples, direct advertising or publicity releases. In sociology or demography, they can be analyzed to assess social trends or population dynamics. Across the social sciences, they can be used to select random samples of the population for opinion surveys of products or political issues.

Entry headings in directories are usually the names of individuals or organizations. For individuals, data elements may include name and position, business organizations and address, telephone, fax and email. Sometimes they have home addresses and phone numbers and religious, political and recreational affiliations. For organizations, the data included is the full name of the organization, as well as an acronym, address, telephone, fax and email of head and regional offices.

The one directory everyone knows is the telephone directory. All the rules for using reference works apply here. You must be aware of the number and types of lists of entries, the headings used and the order of arrangement. For example, in the White Pages, government departments may be in separate lists of entries at the front. Access to the Yellow Pages is alphabetical by products and services, and under each heading, alphabetical by company name.

Bibliographic Sources

The term “bibliography” has two different meanings: the list of references you place at the end of a paper, and a published list of bibliographic descriptions that can help you find the existence of information sources.

You might need to use a bibliography if you have used the card catalog and found very little information about a topic. A bibliography will show how much has been published on the topic. It may be that very little is available, or that a lot has been published, but little is held by the library you are using.

The headings and data elements in bibliography entries are very similar to those found in library catalogs, minus the call number. Additional data elements may include the price and either an abstract or an annotation.


Bibliographies by Grade Level

Annotated Bibliographies Please read thoroughly.



Answer the following questions in the Discussions area of Canvas:

1. What is a government document? Does Palo Alto College Library have any government documents? How can a government document be useful to you?

2. How are directories most often used?

3. What are some other ways directories may be used?

4. How are directories usually arranged? What are 5 kinds of information you may get from a directory?

5. What is the one directory everyone knows? (This answer is nearly outdated.)

6. What are the two meanings of the term bibliograpy?

7. If you are looking for information, why might you need a bibliography?

8. What will a bibliography do for you?

9. What kinds of information will you find in bibliography entries?

10. Have you ever used a bibliography while doing a research paper? Give me some details of that.

11. Click on the above link to Bibliographies by grade. Click on a grade level. Find a bibliography that you like in the list, and list 10 of the items on the bibliography with the information given in the bibliography. Example: click on grade 4, then It's Cool. It's School. Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard. Houghton 1985 (32 p.) also paper The kids in Room 207 wonder what happened to their nice teacher.

12. What is an annotated bibliography? Explain an annotation.


Don't forget to take the quiz. (Go to Canvas in ACES.)

Colby Glass, MLIS, Professor Emeritus