Government Publications

Table of Contents 
The language preference is English. French and other languages are collected when necessary to support course or graduate research programs of the University.
The Library collects official government publications to support the teaching and research programs of the University.
The Library maintains a strong collection of Canadian, British, American and International documents. The publications of other countries are purchased selectively.

Mainly current publications are being collected, however reprints of historical titles or collections are acquired if considered necessary to support course or graduate research programs of the University.

The collection is largely comprised of the following categories of material:
  • Parliamentary and Congressional materials (debates, committee proceedings and reports)
  • Statutory materials (bills, acts, regulations, cumulative revisions of acts and regulations)
  • Statistical publications (monographs and serials)
  • Royal Commissions and Task Force reports
  • Departmental Reports
  • Basic reference works

A small collection of non-official government-related publications forms part of the collection.

Formats of Material Collected

     Government publications are collected in all formats:
  • Paper
  • Microform (e.g. fiche & film; microcard is no longer actively collected)
  • Electronic (CD-ROM, Internet)

Location of Material

The main collection of government publications is housed in the Mills Library. Highly scientific publications are housed at the Thode Library. A small collection of business publications is maintained at the Innis Library. As a general rule, titles are not duplicated between libraries. Exceptions are made for key reference titles, some statistical publications and popular serials. When demand warrants, additional copies of popular titles will be ordered for class purposes. In some cases, the additional copies will be weeded after use declines.


Jurisdictions and Collection Levels

Canada - Federal (A)

     McMaster University Library has been designated as a depository library for federal government publications. As a result, the Library receives and is legally responsible to maintain and service a large number of documents produced by the Government of Canada, its departments and agencies.

     Other materials, not available on deposit but deemed to be useful to support the University's teaching and research needs, are actively acquired by the Library. These publications are acquired by direct purchase, subscription, standing orders and mailing lists.

     The collection is supplemented by Microlog, a microfiche collection purchased by subscription. Microlog is a clearinghouse for Canadian research and report literature in all fields. This collection covers English and French publications from federal, provincial, and municipal government agencies and departments. It includes research, scientific, technical and annual reports, policy papers and statistical materials.


Provinces - Ontario (A)

     McMaster University Library has been designated as a depository library for Ontario government publications. As a result, the Library receives and is legally responsible to maintain and service a large number of publications produced by the Ontario government. The depository arrangement covers a large spectrum of the government's publications (including bills, acts, revised statutes and regulations, votes and proceedings, statistical publications, and selected departmental, agency, board and commission reports.)

     Other materials, not available on deposit but deemed to be useful to support the University's teaching and research needs, are actively acquired by the Library. These publications are acquired by direct purchase, subscription, standing orders and mailing lists - either from Publications Ontario or from the issuing department or agency. This category of material largely includes departmental, agency, board and commission reports. Decisions are made based largely on subject matter, expected usage and price.

     The collection is supplemented by Microlog.


Provinces - Other than Ontario (C)

     The Library acquires publications selectively from provinces other than Ontario. When possible, we acquire the following:
  • Annual statute volumes
  • Revised statute sets
  • Budget speeches
  • Estimates (Finance Department)
  • Public Accounts
  • Royal Commission Reports (selective - based on subject matter)
  • Departmental, agency, board or commission monographs (selective - based on subject)
  • Annual statistical publications (if not available via Microlog or as part of a Statistics Canada publication)
  • Historical cumulations or overviews
  • Publication catalogues / checklists

     Unlike Ontario, we do not attempt to acquire bills, regulations, votes and proceedings, journals, debates, revised regulation sets, annual reports or departmental reports, chief electoral officer reports.

     The collection is supplemented by Microlog.


Municipal - Local Area (Hamilton, Burlington) (C)

     The Library acquires municipal documents from the local area on a selective basis. The local area includes Hamilton, (amalgamation of Hamilton, Flamborough, Ancaster, Stoney Creek and Dundas took place January 1, 2001), Burlington, and surrounding communities. Materials are selected on the basis of subject matter and expected usage by McMaster students, faculty and staff. Subjects of most interest include: bike lanes, environment, Hamilton harbour, health, industry, parks and recreation, planning and development, social services and waste management.

     In addition, the Library acquires:

  • almost all documents issued by the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton.
  • Hamilton City Council - Agendas & Minutes
  • Hamilton City Council Committees - Agendas and Minutes

     Some municipal documents are acquired from the City of Toronto. Selection is based on subject matter and expected usage. Social Planning and Research Council of Metropolitan Toronto publications are acquired selectively.

     A small number of documents are acquired from other municipalities on issues of relevance to the Hamilton area (e.g., harbour cleanup in Halifax, steel industry in Pittsburg).


Political Party Materials (D)

     The Library attempts to acquire all Canadian federal and Ontario provincial party platforms and other significant documents. Most materials are collected at election time.


Nominal Census (A)

     The Library acquires sets of nominal census returns on microfilm as they are released (every five years).


Case Law (B)

     The Library maintains collections of case law: some titles come free of charge as depository publications (e.g., Supreme Court Reports); others are purchased (e.g. Ontario Reports).


Commercial Publications (E)

     The Library maintains a small collection of commercial publications within the government publications area. The collections include:
  • basic reference tools used to access government publications (indexes, etc.)
  • loose-leaf current information services
  • dictionaries, handbooks, guides to government services and politics
  • case law reporters and indexing services


United Kingdom (A)

     British documents are collected primarily to support courses in British history from the medieval to the modern period, with emphasis on the Victorian and modern periods. Documents also support research at the undergraduate and graduate levels. They are also collected to support research in courses of European history and politics, and in areas that can be compared with their Canadian and American counterparts (economics, sociology, social work and other subject areas).


Chronological Limitations

     Mainly current publications are being collected, however backfiles or reprints of historical titles or collections are acquired, particularly if they are relevant to Victorian or twentieth century British history or politics. Reprinted manuscripts or expensive sets are purchased for earlier periods in consultation with the History Department.




Parliamentary (A)

     All British parliamentary material is collected (Debates, Sessional Papers, Command Papers) for all periods with some exceptions for the House of Lords. Parliamentary papers currently being received as part of the Readex Parliamentary Papers Collection (1980-   ) are not being duplicated in paper with the exception of major white papers and other important documents.


Statutory (B)

     British Statutes (public acts) are collected for all time periods. While consolidations ofstatutes were purchased in the past, a current consolidation is not held. Consolidated indexes are purchased to provide historical evolution of legislation. Bills are not collected except for those which are included in the Readex Parliamentary Papers Collection (1980-  ). Statutory Orders and Instruments (Regulations) are not collected.


Statistical (C)

     General statistics covering a number of subject areas are collected for all time periods. All publications of the population censuses for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are collected. Other sources covering statistics relating to population, health, labour, social affairs, economics, environment and agriculture are collected selectively.


Medieval and Early Modern British History (B)

     The library holds a core collection of State Papers and calendars of State Papers, House of Lords and Commons Journals, various series such as the Rolls Series and the manuscripts republished by the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. This is supplemented and added to whenever required for courses or research into the history of this period.


Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century British History (B)

     Cabinet papers, parliamentary, statutory and other materials are actively collected, particularly if they relate to the social or political history of the Victorian period.


Twentieth Century British History and Politics (B)

     Subject areas collected include the First and Second World Wars, British foreign relations, foreign and domestic policy, international relations and economic and social history.


British Society and Economy (C)

     Material is selected to support courses in sociology, social work, women's studies, geography and economics. Subject areas collected include health and vital statistics, population, gender issues, environment, social welfare, labour, education, national accounts and economic conditions.

Note:      Publications of the governments of Scotland and Northern Ireland are purchased only if they are considered very important to the collection, apply to a broader event, or are related to one of the subject areas described above.


United States of America (Federal) (A)

     Congressional and statutory publications are purchased both for their research and their reference value. Other publications are purchased in three main areas: statistical (Census Bureau and Dept. of Commerce), international (US Army handbooks and Dept. of State) and departmental (eg. Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare and Dept. of Justice). Course related materials are also acquired, especially those that can be used for international comparisons.


Subjects and Collection Levels

Presidential Documents (A)

Foreign Affairs (B)

Forestry (B)

Geology (B)

Health and Welfare (B)

Law and Legislation (B)

Statistics and Census (B)

Transportation (B)

Anthropology (C)

Congressional (C)

Crime (C)

Defense and Disarmament (C)

Economics and Business (C)

Environment (C)

Finance (C)

History (C)

Labour (C)

Trade (C)

Agriculture (D)

Education (D)


Energy (D)

     Subscriptions, standing orders and mailing lists are maintained where possible. All basic reference works and indexes relative to the collection are purchased. Historical materials are acquired in microform. Monographs, serials, annuals and periodicals are acquired through GPO (Government Printing Office), the issuing agency or commercial distributors.


United States of America (State) (E)

     State documents are not generally collected. Basic coverage of state information is through federal publications that give detailed information at the state level.


Other Countries (E)

     McMaster University Library does not collect extensively in this area. Official Yearbooks and statistical compendiums are purchased where possible. Basic coverage is through the publications of international bodies and, to a lesser extent, through the international publications of the US government.


International Organizations (A)

     McMaster University Library relies on the publications of the United Nations and its affiliated agencies for general and statistical information on other countries and for international comparisons. The collection includes official records, international treaties, statistical yearbooks and a wide range of other publications.


United Nations (A)

Subjects and Collection Levels

Official Records (A)


Selected Subject Categories (A)

     Publications in the following categories are automatically received through a standing order. Categories may be added or changed from year to year.


Category I:General Information and Reference
Category IIB:Economic Development
Category IIC:World Economy
Category IIG:Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
Category IIK:Economic Commission for Africa
Category IIL:Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
Category IIIA:United Nations University
Category IIIB:United Nations Development Programme
Category IIICUnited Nations International Research and Training Institute for the advancement of Women
Category IIIDUnited Nations Environment Programme
Category IIIEUnited Nations Industry and Development Organization
Category IIIHUnited Nations Population Fund
Category IIIKUnited Nations Institute for Training and Research
Category IIIMUnited Nations Disaster Relief Agency
Category IIINUnited Nations Inter-regional Crime and Justice Research Institute
Category IIIPInternational Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
Cateogry IVSocial Questions
Category VIISecurity Council and Peace-Keeping Operations
Category IXDisarmament and Atomic Energy
Category XIIIDemography
Category XIVHuman Rights
Category XVIIInternational Statistics
Category XXUNICEF Publications


Law (B)

East Asia (B)

All other Subject areas (C)

     Partial standing orders are maintained with the following affiliated agencies. Monographs are ordered selectively.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (C)

     Supplements and augments the main UN collection in the area of food andagriculture.

Subjects and Collection Levels

Statistics (B)

Food Supply (B)

Sustainable Development (B)

Environment (B)

Agricultural Production and Trade (C)

Nutrition (C)

Land and Soil Reserves (C)

Forest Resources (C)

Fisheries (C)

Irrigation (C)

Fertilizers (D)

International Labour Office (ILO) (B)

     Supplements and augments the main UN collection in the area of labour.



Subjects and Collection Levels

Statistics (A)

Social Security (A)

Social, Economic and Employment Policy (A)

Labour and Special Groups (Women, Children, Disabled) (B)

Labour Legislation and Standards (B)

Workers' Rights (B)

Working Conditions (B)

Labour Relations (B)

Occupational Health and Safety (C)

Management (D)

Worker Education and Training (E)

International Monetary Fund (IMF) (C)

     Supplements and augments the main UN collection in the area of world financial and economic development issues and developing countries.



Subjects and Collection Levels

Statistics (B)

Economic Development (B)

Developing Countries (B)

World Finance (C)

World Economics (C)

Banking (C)

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (C)

     Supplements and augments the main UN collection in the area of education, science and culture.



Subjects and Collection Levels

Statistics (B)

Education Policy (B)

Education in Developing Countries (C)

Communication (C)

Culture (D)

World Bank (C)

     Supplements and augments the main UN collection in all areas of development.



Subjects and Collection Levels

Statistics (B)

Economic Development (B)

Sustainable Development (B)

Social Welfare and Social Policy (B)

Agriculture (C)

Environment (C)

Social Issues (C)

Health (C)

Education (C)

Transportation (C)

Finance (C)

World Health Organization (WHO) (D)

     Supplements and augments the main UN collection in the area of health, particularly as it relates to the social, economic, and non-technical aspects of health and disease.



Subjects and Collection Levels

National Health Policy (D)

Health Conditions and Health Care in Countries (D)

Health of Special Groups: Women, Children, Etc. (D)

Environment and Health (D)

Ethics (D)

Social-economic Aspects of Health and Disease (D)

Statistics (E)

Who Documents (E)

Public Health (Disease, Immunization)(E)

Health Education (E)

Nutrition (E)

Mental Health (E)

World Trade Organization (WTO) (B)

     Supplements and augments the main UN collection in the area of trade policy information for countries of the world and research resources relating to international trade agreements and issues.



Subjects and Collections Levels

Trade Policy (A)

WTO Official Documents (A)

Other International Organizations

     Selected publications from other international bodies are also purchased; eg. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), European Union (EU), North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), etc.

Note:      The international collection is also supplemented by a Readex collection entitled United Nations Documents and Publications, a microfiche subscription service from NewsBank which is accompanied by an electronic index. The Readex collection includes the Official Records of all the UN main and subsidiary bodies as well as many other published and unpublished documents of the UN and UN affiliated bodies.