Local, state and federal government documents are the basis of much of everyday life.  Whether you are looking for tax forms, patent applications, court rules for filing a lawsuit, or appellate briefs, government documents will be involved. The Federal and California state governments, to ensure the availability of free access to government documents, started depository library programs and free distribution of government documents to libraries designated as depository libraries in 1813 and 1945, respectively. The LA Law Library is a selective depository of both state and Federal documents.

Depository status has allowed the LA Law Library to obtain and develop an extensive print and/or micro collection of federal and California state primary materials including, but not limited to: the U. S. Code (1925 to the present), the U. S. Statutes at Large (1789 to the present), the U. S. Serial Set (1964 to the present), selective Congressional Hearings (1906 to the present), and the Code of Federal Regulations (1938 to the present). At the state level, California Statutes, Assembly and Senate Weekly and Final Histories or Final Calendar of Legislative Business (selectively 1881 to the present) and California Daily Assembly and Senate Journals (selectively 1854 to the present).

Depository materials are retained in accordance with the requirements of Federal and California state governing depository programs. While all selected depository and non-depository Federal and California government documents are added to the collection, Federal depository government documents not added to the collection are listed elsewhere on the library’s website and available to the public during the library’s normal hours of operation. For more information about the depository programs, please see:

1 - Select Websites for Locating US Federal Government Documents

Congress.gov is the official website for finding U. S. Federal legislative information. It replaced the previous legislative website Thomas website in 2016. The information available on bill status,* Congressional profiles and the legislative process comes from the Library of Congress Congressional Research Service, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, the Secretary of the Senate, the Government Publications Office and the Congressional Budget Office. The range of the website can be ascertained from some of its contents:

*Bill records are available on Congress.gov from 1973 (93rd Congress) to the present. The full texts of bills are available from 1989 (101st Congress), and the full text of laws from 1995 (104th Congress). Amendment records are available from 1981 (97th Congress), and full text of amendments is available from 1995 (104th Congress) to the present. The legislation collection is updated the morning after a session adjourns.

Fdsys (Federal Digital System)
Search or browse this database of official publications of the 3 branches of the U.S. Government, arranged in over 50 collections. Publications come from the GPO (Government Publications Office), the Library of Congress and the National Archives. All documents are available as authentic, digitally signed pdf documents. Some of the documents included are:

The website (in Beta mode) is designed to replace Fdsys, providing some of the same information for browsing or searching utilizing an easier search format, retaining document authentication, and access to the GPO catalog, print and ebooks. Some of its initial contents are similar:

LALL: LA Law Library
Search the library’s catalog for complete descriptions of our holdings of state and federal government publications.

Library of Congress
View the vast digital collections of the nation’s library, including the country’s earliest laws in “A Century of lawmaking for a new nation,” such as, the Annals of Congress, the Congressional Globe, the Federalist Papers and broadsides. The library is also home to the U. S. Copyright Office, the Congressional Research Service and the Law Library of Congress. The law library website includes a Guide to Law Online (the full text of National and International laws, regulations and cases) plus explanatory guides (Understanding the U. S. Legal System, for example), links to Congress.gov for the Congressional Record and a Congressional Record App,.

A feature of the U. S. Government Publications catalog which allows you to search reports and articles from a majority of federal government agencies. While it searches only government agencies’ websites, the results may include non-government publications.

An official and secure website of the federal government (formerly known as Firstgov.gov), provides access to federal and state government agencies’ information and general government services (passports, grants, etc.) A search on this website yields only results from a government agency. Search requests can be made by email, smartphone app, or live chat.

This official directory of the U. S. Judiciary serves as a gateway to finding court locations, federal court records, the Federal Rules (Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Bankruptcy), Appellate and District Court information, PACER, court forms, and educational resources for all.

U. S. House of Representatives & U. S. Senate
The websites of the House of Representatives & U. S. Senate provide access to current legislative activity, Representative and Senator biographical information, historical bill information on Congress.gov and the Library of Congress, Congressional Committee membership, and educational or entertaining resources such as, “Kids in the house.”  

2 - Select Websites for Locating California Government Documents

California Courts
This official website of California’s Judicial Branch promotes equal access and justice to all through the information provided. A myriad of self-help topics can be explored (probate, debt collection, adoption, trial preparation, domestic violence, fee waivers, and criminal law to name a few) to gain an understanding of a topic or a guide for completing a procedure. A person can also “ask a librarian” a question, complete their court forms, search the Official California court opinions, and find Court rules, jury instructions, and instructional guides. Recently, an “Immigration Resource Directory” was added.

California Laws
The official website of the Legislature provides the full text of California Assembly and Senate bills and resolutions plus daily updates on those bills and legislative activity from 1999 to the present plus the full text of California’s codes to browse or search. From the homepage, one can do a quick bill or code search or select the California Law tab and conduct a text search of one or more California codes. Bills and analyses from before 1999 are on the previous Legislative website - http://leginfo.ca.gov/. California’s historical statutes, archived Assembly and Senate final histories, searchable weekly histories, daily histories, and journals are within the archives of the California Assembly clerk.

California State Government
Browse this colorful state website under the keyword icons for “how, who, what, were, when and why.” The answers will identify information about the governor and other state officials, state agency information and agency regulations, resources for people with disabilities, calculate child support and much, much more. The website was a 2016 “Best of the Web Finalist.”

California State Library
The outstanding library website provides access to official state information about agency programs, its own historic collections, continuing education opportunities and genealogical resources. The Bernard E. Witkin Law Library, located within the state library, is known for its holdings in the area of California and federal legislative history, California Supreme Court and Court of Appeals briefs, and Northern California historic land claims. The state library is the only regional Federal/GPO depository library in the state. It collects every government document published by the U.S. Government Publishing Office. By comparison, the LA Law Library is a selective federal depository, collecting a fraction of what is published.

U C Hastings
The University library’s website is noted for its current and historic voter guides.The U C Hastings California Ballot Propositions and Initiatives guides includes election results and ballot measures from 1911 to the present. Another Northern California program, the Institute of Governmental studies at Berkeley offers guides to California state elections, from 2000 to the most recent state-wide elections and the California Secretary of State’s website has statewide election results from 1990 to the present, voter information guides from March 1996 to the present, and the history of California Initiatives from 1912 to the present.

3 - Select Websites for Locating Local Government Documents

Los Angeles City Government
The City’s official website contains the City’s Administrative and Municipal Code, the City Charter, Executive Directives for LA Mayors from Tom Bradley to the Current Mayor, business / visitor information, City Council data and membership, and city services.

Los Angeles County Government
The main official website of the County contains the full text of the current Los Angeles County Code and Charter, proceedings of the LA County Board of Supervisors, LA County open data, and a link to the County Public Information Office where you can find anything about a County agency or service.

Other California County Codes
American Legal Publishing’s Website is a gateway for finding Municipal Codes for small and large cities in California. Search California Municipal Codes here.

4 - Select Non-Governmental Websites for Locating Government Laws & Regulations

Findlaw for the legal professional
One of the first free websites for searching California law and cases. It is now owned by Westlaw, but still provides free searching of California cases from 1932, access to other state and federal court opinions from court websites, and legal reference resources such as excerpts from AmJur2d (contracts, damages, divorce, etc.) with links to the full content on Westlaw (with a subscription).

Google Scholar
Find digitized versions of cases and academic articles. Case coverage includes Federal cases from 1923, state cases from 1950, and U. S. Supreme Court cases from 1791.

Free case law access for state and Federal courts. Dates vary for most courts, but U. S. Supreme Court cases are available from 1789. The full text of California codes is available from 2005. Court dockets are also available; however, for the full text of complaints, you will be referred to PACER. You can create an account to connect to Facebook and other social media for research or marketing.

Legal Information Institute
Cornell Law School’s research website has original content such as the WEX legal encyclopedia, the U S Constitution, the CRS annotated Constitution, the Oyez Project of U. S. Supreme Court opinions and transcripts, an ability to quickly find a title and section of the U S Code, the Code of Federal Regulations and state law resources.

Public Library of Law (PLOL)
One of the world’s largest free law libraries includes cases, laws and regulations from the creators of Fastcase. The website provides Supreme Court and appellate cases from 1997 to the present, statutes, court rules, and Constitutions from all the states and selective state regulations and administrative codes.

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The LA Law Library is a selective government depository for both the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) and State of California materials.

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