Government Information Sources
[Go to a non-frames version of this guide]
Scientific and technical information is of vital importance to the national government. Consequently, much Federal publishing and information-gathering deals with scientific and technical topics and issues. St. Mary's Blume Library collects this published material in a selective manner, focusing on subject areas and levels of treatment which are supportive of university curricula. The increasing amount of information freely available over the internet, however, means that the St. Mary's community, as well as the public at large, has access to a much greater amount of information in these areas than was possible when they were limited to what was physically housed at the Blume Library.
This guide is divided into broad subject areas, with sections on general sources (including the history of science) preceding sections of Astronomy, Life Sciences, Health Sciences, Earth Sciences, Engineering. The screen for each section of the frames version of the guide has three parts: the main text area, a table of contents to the other sections of the guide in the upper left, and a brief set of links to the home pages of the major agencies covering the particular subject, in the lower left.
Some subjects are further divided into sub-sections. Within each subject or sub-area, there are two major sub-sections: Resources in the Library (which includes printed, microfiche and CD-ROM formats) and Resources on the Web. (When online versions of the Library resources are available, these are noted, and are included in the List of Sources on the Web.) In the case of sections or sub-sections with a great deal of material available, there may be further divisions, such as "Laws, Reference Books and Reports," for in-Library materials; or "Agencies and Other Selected Sites" for Web resources.
|Note that in recent years the Library's receipt of printed documents has fallen dramatically. For that reason, there are few publications listed in the Resources in the Library sections of this guide with recent publication dates. However, keep in mind that the Library's catalog is still an access point for government information, since full cataloging records (with subject headings and othe informational notes) are available there for thousands of government publications and websites.|
It is obviously impossible to cover all the publications available even in a limited collection such as ours, not to mention the vast resources available over the internet, in a guide like this. The following criteria have therefore been used to select documents and web sites for inclusion or exclusion:
Library Resources included
Web Resources included
|Major reference sources||Major agencies main pages in each field; some subsidiary pages|
|Reports of important commissions, task forces, etc.||Comprehensive, "one-stop" Web sites|
|Laws—compilations, major legislation||Important databases, especially if non-technical material is included|
Library Resources excluded
Web Resources excluded
|Monographs of limited scope or focus||Sites with limited focus|
|Extremely technical materials||Sites offering primarily extremely technical material|
Readers of this guide will notice immediately that no single agency is responsible for all scientific publishing; each subject, in fact, is represented by publications and web sites from several different sources. Because of the dispersion of scientific and technical information throughout the Federal government, users of printed documents are urged to use the Library's catalog (or indexes described in Government Information Basic Guide). Browsing in the documents stacks can turn up pertinent items through serendipity. But for a comprehensive search on any topic, use of the catalog and/or indexes is essential.
Locating information on the internet presents its own special problems, and while this guide is presented as an aid in this process, do not hestitate to contact the Reference Desk for more personalized help if you have difficulty finding what you need.