Second Floor—North Building
Manager: John Graham
About the Department
Established in 1997, the Public Documents and Patents Department is one of the newest departments at the Main Library. The department is a depository for publications received from the federal government and the Patent and Trademark Depository Library program. The Library has been a depository since 1884, and all depository materials are now centralized in the new department. In addition to a very large collection of materials in a variety of formats, the department also offers reference service and instruction to guide users through the sometimes complex process of locating and using government information.
The Public Documents and Patents Department’s collection consists almost entirely of public documents received on deposit from the federal government. This includes publications from the Executive Branch, the Supreme Court, the Congress, the Patent and Trademark Office, and numerous independent agencies. With a collection that dates from the late 18th Century, the department is the most complete depository library in the Tri-state area. A small and specialized collection of indexes and general reference sources is also maintained.
The department’s collection covers all subject areas. The material also comes in many physical formats, including paper copies, microforms, maps, pamphlets, CD-ROM’s, and, increasingly, online. International, state, and local documents are not located in this department; they may be found in the Library Catalog and are located in other Main Library subject departments. The collection is entirely non-circulating, although provision may be made to check out specific items on special charge loan. Many items are located in non-public stack areas, so ask at the department’s service desk for assistance in either checking out items or in retrieving materials from the stacks.
The depository collection dates from 1884. It covers all subjects and comes in many physical formats. Some of the department’s more popular subjects and documents include:
- Depository maps from federal government agencies, including the US Geological Survey, CIA, National Imagery and Mapping Agency, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The largest part of the collection is current topographic maps for the entire United States issued by USGS. Prior maps from Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky are also retained. Topographic maps show surface features of land, along with shape and elevation. Other holdings include nautical charts, national park maps, aerial obstruction charts, and geological maps. The collection was previously located in the Library’s History Department.
- Public Laws
- The department contains copies of all laws passed by Congress. First received as individual slip laws, they are eventually gathered together in Statutes at Large. Online services such as GPO Access provide access to the newest laws soon after passage. Laws are then codified and arranged by subject in the U.S. Code.
- Congressional Hearings
- The department has an outstanding collection of Congressional hearings. The department has paper copies from the late 1920’s through the mid-1980’s, with complete coverage in microfiche thereafter. Retrospective sets of unpublished House of Representatives and Senate hearings are also available. For the most current information, visit Congress’s official website, Thomas.
- Supreme Court Decisions
- The department has copies of all U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Indexes by case name are available. A website offers text of decisions and indexes for cases since 1990.
- Population and Economic Census Data
- The department has an extensive collection of census statistics. This includes data from each decennial census, since 1790. The Census Bureau also compiles data on economic activity through its economic census program. This includes series such as the Census of Retail Trade and the Census of Wholesale Trade. The surveys are currently compiled in years ending in “2” and “7”.
Note: the Library’s History and Genealogy Department has retrospective census name information for family history research; the Public Documents and Patents Department’s census material contains statistics only.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Data
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics compiles and publishes extensive data on the U.S. labor force. This data includes unemployment rates, wage and benefits information, and injury and occupational illness information.
- Federal Regulations
- The department maintains copies of all federal regulations. These regulations are first announced in the daily Federal Register. They are then codified by subject in the current edition of the Code of Federal Regulations. Detailed indexes to the CFR are available, and electronic access helps insure coverage of the latest changes. For the most current updates, visit the GPO Access website.
- Foreign Trade Data
- The department has data on imports, exports, and other international commerce. The chief resource is the National Trade Databank on CD-ROM.
- Crime Statistics
- The department has crime statistics on the state and national levels. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports and the Justice Department’s Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics are the department’s best resources. Although detailed, they offer limited information on the local level.
- Climatological Data
- The library has extensive climate data for all 50 states, dating back to the early 20th Century. These documents include detailed weather data for Cincinnati and the surrounding Tri-state area. The National Weather Service offers an informative website, but, at this time, it is not a replacement for the hard copy weather data.
- Federal, State, and Local Tax Forms
- The department maintains the Main Library’s collection of income tax forms and publications. These include IRS, Ohio, Kentucky, and City of Cincinnati forms to distribute and reproducible forms from other states, including Indiana.
The department also keeps reproducible copies of federal forms back to 1977 and back copies of selected local and state forms. Tax forms and publications are available year-round.
The Government and Business Department has additional sources of tax information. Check with their service desk for details.
Selected copies of current tax forms are available for both reproduction and free distribution during tax season in all branch libraries.
- Copyright Information and Forms
- Current copies of all U.S. copyright forms are available for free distribution. Copyright fee schedules and publications are also available. The Library of Congress’s Copyright Office administers copyright registrations in the United States.
Patents and Trademarks
The Library is a designated Patent and Trademark Depository Library, one of only 80 in the country. The department has a complete collection of all patents, dating back to 1790, as well as reference tools to assist in conducting a patent or trademark search. Utility, plant, design, and re-issue patents are included in the collection, as well as a limited number of European patents and patent applications, and Japanese patent abstracts.
Conducting a patent or trademark search may be time consuming. Staff will assist customers in the use of patent materials issued by the Patent and Trademark Office to enable almost anyone to conduct his or her own patent search. These resources include indexes to the patent classification system and the CASSIS CD-ROM search computer.
Locating Public Documents
Public Documents are shelved according to the Superintendent of Documents classification scheme, not the Dewey Decimal system used for other Library materials. This filing system is alpha-numeric, where the first part of the call number is a letter used to designate the issuing government agency. Most public documents are in our catalog. Please ask Public Documents staff if you are having trouble locating a particular item. Some important tools for locating federal public documents include:
- GPO Catalog
- An online index to documents cataloged by the U.S. Government Printing Office since 1976. GPO Catalog is accessible through OCLC FisrtSearch. It may be searched by author, title, subject, and document number. A World Wide Web version is also available that corresponds to the familiar Monthly Catalog of Government Publications.
- A CD-ROM database is located in the Public Documents Department and is very similar to GPO Catalog.
- American Statistics Index (ASI)
- A detailed index to statistics published in U.S. public documents. Searchable by subject, title, issuing agency, and geographic area. ASI indexing began in 1974, and the library has purchased all non-depository documents indexed in ASI since 1984.
- Internet Resources
- Public document information has been migrating to the World Wide Web for several years, and this trend will only gather speed in the future. The department has internet terminals to access government information.
- Other Indexes
- Many other specialized indexes are available. These include indexes to Congressional documents, Executive Orders, technical reports, pre-1976 documents, and government periodicals. These are in print, CD-ROM, and internet formats.
Public Documents and Patents Department staff can help you find the information you need by telephone, or in person. Staff can provide factual information, assistance in locating detailed publications, help in using indexes and search tools, and can make referrals to other libraries or agencies.
The department offers many public tours. Public tours last about 45 minutes are scheduled throughout the year.
The department also offers DART online database searching for patents, trademarks, and public document-related requests. DART is the Library’s online database search service. DART can access database vendors such as DataTimes, Dialog, and Nexis/Lexis. Foreign patent information, state-by-state trademark registrations, and specialized indexes to government-sponsored technical reports are all among the types of searches performed by the Public Documents staff. Inquire for prices, availability, and a DART search request form.
InfoFax service is also available. Call the department, and for a fee, we can fax information to your home, business, or branch library. Inquire for fees and procedures.
Public Documents Online
Government information and publications are increasingly available in the electronic environment. Government reports, statistical data, forms, laws, and a variety of other public document information is now on the worldwide web. The web includes everything from items still available in paper copies to materials never easily accessible to the public.
Several search tools are available to help you find what you need among federal information sources. These include:
- Government Information Locator Service (GILS)
- The largest site to links on government internet sites.
- Library of Congress’s Government Information Site
- Links to government and non-government sites.
- National Technical Information Service Web Locator
- Similar to GILS, another site with links to government sites.
- GPO Access
- Full-text of many government sources, such as the U.S. Code, Federal Register, Congressional Bills, and Public Laws.
- A one-stop index and full-text source of federal government statistics on a variety of topics.
- Toxics Release Inventory
- Provides the public and government officials with easy access to important information concerning routine or accidental releases of toxic chemicals to the environment.
Contacting your Senator or Representative
Many times, your Senator or House Representative may offer additional assistance in getting service or information from the federal government. Try the Public Documents Department first, but you may also choose to contact the local offices of the following Members of Congress.
- U.S. Senate
- Mike DeWine
105 E. 4th Street, Suite 1515
Cincinnati, OH 45202
- George V. Voinovich
36 E. 7th Street - Room 2615
Cincinnati OH 45202
- U.S. House of Representatives
- 1st District
3003 Carew Tower
441 Vine Street
Cincinnati OH 45202
- 2nd District
8044 Montgomery Road, Suite 540
Cincinnati, OH 45236