Government Information

Government content can be relevant to almost any subject area. This guide can help organize and define your search process for Government information.

  1. Customized search engine for Government Information - filter your search by geographic area, you may be able to search multiple regions for your topic


  2. Think Tank Search (Harvard University) – think tanks can give an appreciation of government action or inaction in an area
  3. findpolicy – results from 17 leading think tanks working on foreign policy, in the US and Europe
  4. Google search engines of various countries/regions as relevant e.g. GoogleUK
  5. Google advanced search using filters – e.g. filetype:ppt, which can be used to identify government experts who have presented on a subject – for further tips see Google Guide
  6. Adding terms such as ‘portal’ or ‘gateway’ to the search, e.g. environment portal


  7. Library Discovery Layers e.g. Summon and University of Ottawa’s Search + Not a custom search engine, but a library search tool -  be careful not to make assumptions when using filters

Think about who (institution/person) is likely to have cared enough about the subject to have undertaken research or published in the area. Is there already a list of resources compiled by an authoritative body on this subject? (These listings may or may not include government information)

  1. Subject/topical backgrounders created by legislative libraries to facilitate the work of legislators
  2. Resources created for journalists
  3. Subject guides compiled by academic/special libraries

Places to check:

  1. Subject/topical backgrounders created by legislative libraries to facilitate the work of legislators: 
    • If legislative library staff have been asked to prepare material on a subject it is likely of importance to the Government – one should also consider the possibility that there could be draft legislation (bills) and committee work with reports

2.  Resources created for journalists

3.  Subject guides compiled by academic/special libraries found by:

  • using a search engine and adding to the major search term the additional terms “library guide” or “research guide”
  • using LibGuides Community – which permits a focused search of subject guides created by libraries which use the LibGuides content management system

Canada | Foreign | International | eLibraries/ilibraries/free electronic libraries




eLibraries / iLibraries / free electronic Libraries and open collections

  • IMF eLibrary or IMF Data - access to full text because we pay for a subscription
  • OECD iLibrary - access to full text because we pay for a subscription
  • Commonwealth iLibrary - free electronic Library collection - freely available 'View' of full text, pdf requires paid subscription which we do not have
  • Norden iLibrary - free electronic Library collection - freely available 'View' of full text, pdf requires paid subscription which we do not have
  • United Nations iLibrary - free electronic Library collection - freely available 'View' of full text, pdf requires paid subscription which we do not have
  • European Union collection - open collection of freely available full text publications (most already included when searching our library catalogue)
  • Labordoc - open collection of freely available full text publications

Seeing Where the Research Conversation is Headed

Collection | Research guides | Catalogue | Government Search Engine | Summon | General resources

Many current government pubs are freely available online but a significant number are available only in print or via specialized databases.


Carleton University Library has a strong collection of materials with emphasis on official publications from Canada, its provinces and territories, Great Britain, United States, United Nations, International Labour Organisation, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the European Union. Material from other countries is selectively acquired.

We are a selective deposit for the Canadian federal government, an official Documentation Centre for the European Union and also maintain a comprehensive collection of United Nations documents.

Material is collected in paper, microform and electronic formats and provides coverage for both current and retrospective time periods.  Special attention is given to the identification and selection of full text, statistical and other relevant online government information databases either by subscription or on the open Web.

Our Government publications are filed on the shelf using the CODOC classification system.  This is a geographically based system where materials published by a particular country or organization are shelved together.

In CODOC call numbers, the space is what dictates a new line in the label on the book.  Here are some examples of how a call number is transferred onto the book label.

Journal Book Book Series
DDV CA1 HW .A53 DDV CA1 HW 70.A23 DDV CA1 HW1 2001.S01

Research guides

  • You can use a research guide to help find government information about:
    • Ottawa, Canada, International, Policy Issues, Statistics, Parliamentary / Legislation
  • A full list of government information databases can be seen in the databases list on the library’s website. 
  • Check our A-Z IGO list to find international organizations of particular interest to Carleton.

Catalogue, Government Search Engine and Summon


  • You can do a ‘keyword’ search and change the ‘Entire collection’ drop down to ‘Government information’
  • You can do a keyword search using words from the name of the agency and from the title e.g. a:United Nations and t:human rights
  • Or include language that might bring your area of interest to the surface (eg. name of Chairperson, popular name of committee, laws and regulations, press releases, resolutions, Royal commissions, government investigations, statisticals, Treaties)
  • You can search for a particular government agency in Author
  • You can search for a particular Title, if known
  • You can do a subject search using GOV DOC Subject (e.g. population surveys United Nations)

Some additional tips

  • When using the catalogue and writing out a call number, be sure to include any 3-letter location code (e.g. DDV, DDR, DDM, MRR).
  • Note: Not all United Nations documents are in the Library's online catalogue. See the UN Publications guide. Official records and microform holdings do not have individual records.

Government Search Engine

  • Our Government Custom Search Engines are Google custom search engines and they have been specifically designed to search government sites only.  Be sure to select the geography that will be most relevant to your search.  Keep in mind – more than one Government Search Engine might be relevant to you.


  • This Summon Search guide describes Summon, its scope (Summon does not search all library subscriptions and holdings) and recommends when to use Summon, the library catalogue or a specific database.

Some additional tips

  • use quotes to get results for specific phrases (“human rights”, “World Bank”)
  • Boolean search terms must be capitalized “OR” “AND” “NOT”
  • use * to retrieve multiple variations (legislat* = legislative, legislature, legislate)
  • use ? to allow for variations in spelling (defen?e = defense, defence)
  • changes to refine your search automatically show up in your results as you make them

Refine your search

  • Adding filters to refine your search is necessary to improve the relevance of the material retrieved
  • You may wish to filter by language early in the search process
  • Cautions when using filtering -  For example: Full Text Online will eliminate anything which is not electronic and which might be exactly what you’re looking for;  Scholarly & Peer-review will remove access to all items which are not periodical articles and Library Catalogue will exclude items in a database that might be relevant.  Moreover, limiting to a specific Library location (in basic search) may exclude everything available electronically on your topic.
  • UBC has very good Summon search and advance search videos

General Resources 

Content last updated: February 3, 2020