Lamont Library

Government Information/Microforms Collections


Harvard College Library has been a U.S. depository since 1860. It also serves as a depository for Canada, the United Nations, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and Organization of American States (OAS). Other depository arrangements have been made with the Harvard University Library’s other faculty libraries, e.g. the Harvard Law School has an arrangement with the European Union.

Harvard College Library's Government Information unit in Lamont Library is the central reference and referral point for government information from the United States government, 160 foreign governments, and many international organizations. As a depository, the library serves all interested members of the public in their needs for governmental information. The collection is especially strong in demography and population, history, international relations, international trade, and the social sciences. Reference assistance is available in person at Research Services in Lamont Library (see Hours), or by contacting Government Information Services staff, via e-mail or at 617-495-2106.  Government research guides are also available.

For Harvard University ID-holders, government documents held at the Harvard Depository can be requested via HOLLIS. Lamont Library or Widener Library can be selected as the pick-up location. Items held can be checked out for one-day, in-library access, and can be requested for use for additional days.

For non-Harvard-affiliated members of the public, requests for government documents held at the Harvard Depository can be made at Research Services in Lamont Library (see Hours), or by contacting Lamont Access Services Services staff via e-mail. Requested items will be held at the Lamont Library Circulation Desk where they can be checked out using a Government Documents Access Card. To obtain a Government Document Access Card, please visit the Privileges Office in Widener Library. Items held can be checked out for one-day, in-library access, and can be requested for use for additional days.


Government Information/Microforms in Lamont Library is the principal repository of Harvard College Library for microfilm, microfiche, and micro-opaque cards.

The diverse collection, stored on microfilm, microfiche, and micro-opaque cards, includes: archival collections and entire libraries, personal papers, special collections of serials and monographs, Public Record Office documents, U.S. National Archives materials, Harvard theses, and long runs of journals.

Bibliographic access to the collection is through the HOLLIS catalog. Some of the contents of the large microform sets are not all fully cataloged in HOLLIS. Many have accompanying guides and indexes that are housed in the stacks under the same call number as the microform (e.g., Film A 142; Index Film A 142).

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United States Government Publications

The Harvard College Library is a selective depository for U.S. government publications. As a partner in the Federal Depository Library Program of the U.S. Government Printing Office, the library provides free public access to its collections. Members of the public are required to show a picture ID at the Library Privileges Office in order to obtain a Government Documents Access Card for use only for access to the government documents collection located in Lamont Library. All library users are subject to the terms of the HCL Patron Agreement.

The U.S. government documents housed here consist of a comprehensive collection of congressional publications beginning with the Continental Congress, a wide range of government statistical data in all formats (including decennial census from 1790 to date), presidential documents, documents relating to U.S. foreign affairs, Supreme Court decisions, and other relevant material spanning the entire history of the nation.

Reference staff is on duty to provide assistance to users in finding and using government publications in all formats, including online resources that require a password.

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United Nations and Other Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) Documents

United Nations

Harvard has been a depository for U.N. documents and publications since 1947. Documents include meeting records, working papers, and other official documents. Publications include books and journals on the many areas of interest that the United Nations oversees.

Although many U.N. publications are cataloged and listed in the online catalog, much of the primary source material needed for research requires the use of bibliographies, indexes, and other reference tools, both paper and electronic, which are held in this collection. The documents themselves are available in various formats. Please consult a documents librarian for assistance.

Other Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs)

Government Documents collects the publications catalogs of many intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), although IGO documents are dispersed throughout the University's library system. The international organization documents and publications held in Government Documents/Microforms include those of the League of Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS). Government Documents also has substantial microfiche and online collections for various IGOs, including the League of Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Bank, and others.


The statistical publications of international organizations are available in various formats, increasingly in electronic databases. Some of these can be found via E-Research @ Harvard Libraries. Please consult a Government Documents reference librarian for assistance.

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Foreign Documents

The Government Information/Microforms unit acquires, in all formats, the publications of national governments: legislative proceedings; parliamentary papers of selected countries; budgets, policy statements, and commission reports; demographic and economic census information; national accounts; the annual reports of selected ministries; development plans; and statistical abstracts and reports. There is a strong collection of government documents from Great Britain here, including the Public General Acts.

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