Rensselaer Libraries

How our Government Documents and Technical Reports are Organized

Posted: Nov 23, 2009

How our Government Documents and Technical Reports are Organized

Almost all materials (i.e. books, journals, audio cassettes, videotapes, and microfilm) housed in a library are assigned call numbers.

  • Call numbers identify an item's subject and location in a library.
  • Call numbers are assigned to items based on a classification scheme. Library materials on similar topics will have similar call numbers and will be shelved together.
  • There are three major classification systems used by most libraries in the United States--Library of Congress Classification System (LC), Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC), and the Superintendent of Document System (SuDocs).
  • Rensselaer Research Libraries use all three of these systems.


Government Documents

The Superintendent of Documents Classification system (SuDocs) system is used to catalog our federal government documents . This system is used to assign call numbers to and shelve books and microfiche in the US Doc Stacks and US Doc Microfiche collections. SuDocs was created by the U.S. Superintendent of Documents to classify government documents according to the government agency which published them. A SuDocs number begins with a one, two or three-letter code indicating a U.S. government aency. For example, A for Department of Agriculture, ED for Department of Education, and T for the Treasury Department. This letter is followed by a number indicating the sub-agency which issued the publication. This is followed by a colon, then a letter/number combination identifying the individual title, volume, year or issue number.



EP 1:23/6:600/9-81-002    Example of a Government Document Call Number



Technical Reports

EPA 600/9-81-002c    Example of a Technical Report Call Number


Note: Technical Report number is part of the Government Document number. Also, the agency, in this case, the Environmental Protection Agency is coded differently.

Difference between a Technical Report and a Government Document

Technical report

  • Highly detailed
  • Specialized audience
  • RPI has a subscription to NTRL - with over 500,000 documents in full text.


Government Document


  • Not always highly detailed
  • Not always designed for a specialized audience
  • In RPI usually newer items (must keep current 5 years)
  • Usually free


Our web page Location/Call Number Guide will direct you to library materials and provide floor plans to locate collections. Also there is a floor plan on each floor directly opposite the stairwells.

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