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British government publications are primary sources of
much information in all subjects. Government Departments
and Laboratories also produce research reports.
Unfortunately, tracing government publications can prove to be difficult. This is mainly due to the way in which Government publications are classified by the Stationery Office, the official government publisher.
This guide deals primarily with items published by the Stationery Office. Stationery Office and Non-Stationery Office publications can be traced from UKOP (the Catalogue of United Kingdom Official Publications) available at http://www.ukop.co.uk/.
Basically government publications fall into two categories:- Parliamentary Papers and Non-Parliamentary Papers. Parliamentary Papers are those papers presented to Parliament, together with reports of Parliamentary debates. They are cited by their session date, type and number: e.g. 1970/71 House of Commons Paper (H.C.P.) 32 or Command Paper (Cmnd.) 3769. Most libraries including this one, keep a complete set of Parliamentary Papers, which are eventually bound in sessions, according to the arrangement followed in the House of Commons Library.
The Library has an incomplete collection of Parliamentary Papers from 1772 to 1943 and a complete collection from 1944/45 onwards. In addition there is a complete microfiche collection of Parliamentary Papers covering the years 1801 to 1944/45. The indexes to Parliamentary Papers on the Government Publications Catalogues shelves on Level 4 should be consulted to find out if an early Parliamentary Paper is held. For details of more recent Parliamentary Papers consult UKOP or the Parliament web pages http://www.parliament.uk/.
Non-Parliamentary Papers are those not presented to Parliament and these are treated as ordinary books. The Library holds many Non-Parliamentary Papers published by the Stationery Office from 1970 onwards and a selection of items published by Government Departments and International Organisations. They are included in Library Search. A more detailed explanation of these publications is given later in the guide.
Another difficulty arises from the frequent re-organisation and re-naming of government departments. The lists produced by the Stationery Office can be used to check details.
Government Publications staff in rooms 425 and 401 on Level 4, and Information Desk staff on Level 4, are happy to help with any queries concerning Government Publications.