Government Publications


The Library has a very extensive and important government publications collection, which serves not only the research needs of the UBC community, but researchers from many other institutions as well. The objective of our Collection Policy is to maintain, to the extent that funds are available, as extensive a collection as possible for undergraduate, graduate and faculty research.

Overview of the strengths of the existing collection

The library has an extensive government publications collection, having been a depository library for the federal government since 1927, the provincial government since 1943, and the United Nations since 1949. This material is housed in the Walter C. Koerner Library, the I.K. Barber Centre, and the Barber Centre ASRS.

Current areas of collecting

The collection covers government publications on the following subjects: anthropology, culture, demography and census, development, economics, environment, First Nations, geography, government, history, housing, international relations, labour, political science, public policy, social policy, statistics, trade, and women’s studies.


Canada: 1927-

The Library’s object is to obtain as much material as is available from the federal departments, Parliament, and other agencies including crown corporations. These include all print parliamentary publications, departmental reports and serials, and Statistics Canada titles.

This is made possible through the Depository Services Program. The Library has been a full depository library for English language documents since 1927. The federal Depository Services Program is charged with distributing one copy of all depository titles. The standard source of bibliographic information is the Weekly Checklist of Canadian Government Publications, which lists titles distributed by the Depository Services Program, as well as non-depository titles which the Library responsible for federal publications must order. A library assistant claims missing depository titles. The Librarian responsible for Canadian materials uses the Checklist to order nondepository titles, and to order additional copies of significant reports.

The government publishes in many formats: microform, CD-ROMS, data files. Some CD-ROMs must be ordered. Others, along with data files are obtained through Statistics Canada’s Data Liberation Initiative.

The federal government and Statistics Canada have significantly reduced publication of print titles. Since early 2006, nearly all Internet Statistics Canada publications, except the complete Census, are available free to the public. In the same year, new titles added to the Canadian Government Electronic Collection from the Depository Services Program are free access, although titles added to the collection prior to this policy change appear to be restricted only to Depository Libraries.

The Library has begun the Canadian Government E-Book Collection project to create catalogue records (using MARC records created by Library and Archives Canada for the Weekly Checklist) which link to monographs print titles that the Library has received on deposit.

Some “born digital” titles are downloaded from the Internet for cataloguing.

Major Collections

The Library purchases the Canadian Research Index: Microlog microfiche collection to provide access to publications of Canadian federal, provincial, territorial, regional and local governments from the early 1970s to the present, depending heavily on this collection especially for provinces other than B.C. The Microlog collection excludes all legislative proceedings and serial publications issued more frequently than once per year. Microlog titles are listed in the library catalogue.

The Library subscribes to the CIHM microfiche collection published by the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions, and its online database Early Canadiana Online. Both sources contain pre-1900 federal government publications. ECO contains only selected titles. CIHM microfiche titles are listed in the online catalogue.

British Columbia: 1943-

Within the limitations of the B.C. government’s distribution of its publications, the Library aims for as comprehensive a collection as possible: parliamentary material, department publications, crown corporations.

Formerly the Queen’s Printer supplied 2 copies of all titles. The Legislative Library is now responsible for this work. The standard bibliographic tool is the Monthly Checklist of British Columbia government publications which is checked to verify receipt of publications. The Legislative Library sends copies of some depository material; some materials come on mailing lists. The Librarian for B.C. materials may request titles by telephone, e-mail, or letter. Titles not distributed by the Legislative Library must be ordered from Crown Publications, the official distributor of B.C government publications, or directly from individual ministries and agencies, such as B.C. Stats.

As is the case for many jurisdictions, the province has reduced its publication of print materials, many of which are “born digital” and are available on government websites. Selected titles are downloaded for cataloguing. The Legislative Library also catalogues and archives a significant portion of provincial electronic documents.

Canadian Research Index: Microlog contains provincial and municipal publications.

United Nations: 1949-

The Library has been a depository library since 1949. The deposit covers most parliamentary (“masthead”) titles and includes standard monograph and serials titles from numerous “Sales category” publications. Some agencies and some Commissions are not part of the deposit. Titles from the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Development Programme must be ordered individually, with the aim of acquiring important publications in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Many regional commissions (for Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East) are not obliged to send materials to the Library.

The Library has an arrangement to acquire Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific monographs for the cost of shipping. The Economic Commission for Western Asia provides some titles we request, others are ordered selectively. Very few titles published by the Economic Commission for Latin America are received; titles are ordered selectively.

While the UN issues various small catalogues, the Publications section of the UN website is the principal source of information, and is checked periodically for new titles, especially for the UNEP and UNDP titles mentioned above. The TSO Monthly Catalogue (The U.K Stationery Office) is also a good source for monitoring receipt of Publications.

Major electronic resource acquired:


International Agencies:

The Library is, or has been, a full depository for the following agencies:

  • Asian Development Bank 1994-
  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 1948-
    • Monitoring of the FAO collection is the responsibility of Woodward Library
  • GATT c. 1949-2001 (Renamed World Trade Organization, 1995-)
  • International Civil Aeronautics Organization (ICAO) 1950-
    • The deposit formerly included the Digest of Statistics
  • International Joint Commission (IJC) (established 1909)
  • International Maritime Organization (IMO) 1948-
  • Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) 1998-
  • South Pacific Commission
  • World Trade Organization 1995-2002 (deposit ceased)
    • Government Publications is in negotiations to revive the depository arrangement.
    • The Librarian for international publications relies on agency catalogues and the TSO monthly catalogue to monitor receipt of titles.


The UBC Library is a partial depository for publications of:

  • Council of Europe 1959-
  • European Union 197x-
    • The Library has been designated a European Information Corner, which entitles us to a small core collection of EU publications. Formats include CD-ROM and microfiche.
    • Some materials are now only available on the EU web site.
  • India (through Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute)
    • English language titles only??
  • International Organization for Migration c. 1949-
  • Japan (through the National Diet Library)
    • English language Humanities and Social Sciences titles are located in Koerner Library. Titles in Japanese are located in the Asian Library.


Global subscriptions and standing orders ensure nearly complete receipt of titles from international organizations whose publications are not distributed free. Global subscriptions are handled either by agents or by the organization’s own sales office. Publications may be invoiced annually or with each shipment.

Government Publications maintains global subscriptions for the publications of the following agencies:

  • International Labour Organization (ILO)
  • International Monetary Fund
  • OECD
    • The Library had a depository arrangement with the OECD from 1955-1975. Prior to the purchase of a subscription to SourceOECD in 2005, which includes all print materials as well, the Library had a comprehensive standing order for monographs, serial titles, documents and working papers.
    • SourceOECD is a full text collection of electronic monographs and serials.
    • Government Publications also subscribes to the International Energy Agency component.
    • The library had a depository arrangement with UNESCO from 1949-1994. Titles must now be ordered individually. There are typically very few new serial titles; a subscription request must be submitted to the HSS serials bibliographer and Collections for approval. Government Publications receives Pro Forma invoices for new titles. We are entitled to a 50% discount. UNESCO catalogues and the TSO monthly catalogue are used to monitor receipts.
  • World Bank
    • Many monographs in series are covered by Standing Order. Titles not in series must be ordered. Very few new serials titles are published; orders to go to the HSS serials bibliographer and Collections for approval.
    • Electronic resource: World Development Indicators Online
    • Close monitoring is required for these publications using agency catalogues and the TSO monthly catalogue.
  • World Health Organization
    • The Library has a global subscription to WHO publications. Monitoring this collection is the responsibility of the Woodward Library.


Canadian Provinces and Territories:

Government Publications maintains standing orders and subscriptions, and places special orders for the following types of provincial and territorial materials:

  • Annual reports (limited to areas of policy interest such as labour, social services, Auditor-General, Ombudsman, Human Rights Commission, etc.)
  • Finance department publications (budgets, estimates, public accounts)
  • Legislative material (debates, journals)
  • Statistical series (principal publications on economic and social conditions)
  • Publications Catalogues
  • Selected high-interest royal commission and policy reports

Canadian Municipalities:

Government Publications collects important municipal publications from Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver Regional District, annual reports and financial statements from B.C. municipalities and major Canadian cities. Many GVRD publications are sent automatically. Both agencies publish much of their material on their respective websites.

The Fine Arts Library is responsible for ordering municipal planning publications, and rely on the Microlog collection for access to local and regional government publications, and on government websites.

International Agencies:

Selective ordering is pursued for the following agencies:

  • Commonwealth of Independent States
  • Commonwealth Secretariat
  • Council of Europe
  • European Audiovisual Observatory
  • European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training
  • European Environment Agency
  • Inter-American Development Bank
  • International Finance Corporation
  • International Telecommunications Union
  • Nordic Council
  • UNESCO Institute for Education
  • UNESCO Instraw
  • UNICEF including UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre
  • World Tourism Organization

United States:

Federal Publications

While not a depository for U.S. government publications, the Library does maintain a significant collection of U.S. federal publications through purchased subscriptions and collections, such as:

  • American Statistics Index microfiche collection he Congressional Record (excluding committee proceedings)
  • Foreign Relations of the United States
  • Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States
  • Readex depository and non-depository collections in microform provides complete coverage from the early 1950s through 1980.
  • The NTIS (National Technical Information Service) microfiche collection of technical reports, covering from the mid-1950s through the 1990s.
  • major statistical series, important periodicals, and some ad hoc reports.

The Library Journal offers selected reviews of U.S. government publications in its mid-May issue.

Major Collections

In addition to the microform set of U.S. Government Publications, Government Publications has purchased:

  • Lexis-Nexis Statistical (index to the American Statistics Index microfiche),
  • Lexis-Nexis U.S. Serial Set Digital Collection
  • Digital National Security Archive.

Typically, there has been a large reduction in the availability of print publications, but the federal government has made thousands of its reports available free on the web. The online Catalog of U.S. Publications provides effective access to many federal publications.

U.S. States

Selective acquisitions are limited primarily to the states of the Pacific Northwest. The Web provides access to important documents.

Other Foreign Countries:

The Library acquires publications from governments outside Canada and the U.S., at one of the three following levels:

  • Level 1: Parliamentary material, some departmental reports and serials, major statistical titles:
    • Australia (primarily subscriptions and standing orders)
    • Great Britain (subscriptions, standing orders, and special orders)
    • India (English-language serials through the Shastri Indo-Canadian Exchange)
  • Level 2: Some departmental reports and serials, major statistical titles:
    • France
    • Germany
    • Japan (English-language, through National Diet Library exchange)
    • New Zealand
    • Level 3: Selected titles from some South Asian, Pacific Rim, and other European countries. The Library relies on statistical series and yearbooks from international organizations for fuller coverage of these countries.
    • Actively collecting: China (PRC and Taiwan); Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Commonwealth of Independent States
    • Existing, but not actively collecting: Czech Republic, Mexico, Poland, Russian Federation, South Africa, Sweden.

Research and publishing characteristics

Because of the complexity of ordering government publications, there is no single vendor for this material, although we used Renouf for many orders. We have a number of acquisition methods:

  • Depository arrangements (A legal mechanism which ensures that a designated library receives most, if not all, of an agency’s publications. Some agencies provide full deposit, others partial deposit.)
  • Global subscriptions
  • Specific vendors
  • Individual publishers
  • Mailing lists


The Library is a full depository library for the publications of British Columbia, Canada, and a number of international organizations including the United Nations (some sales publications are not included), and a partial depository for several others. We order titles not included in the deposit, and extra copies of important reports.

Global Subscriptions:

These ensure nearly complete receipt of titles from some international organizations whose publications are not distributed free. A global subscription usually covers both serials and monographs. Publications may be invoiced annually or with each shipment.


Renouf Books handles most of the international organization publications, and we have placed numerous serial subscriptions for the World Bank and the European Union. Shipping and handling charges apply to all vendors. For titles missing from a global subscription, the Librarian enquires with Renouf representative to “claim”.

Government Publishers:

All free or presumed free publications are ordered directly from the issuing agencies because vendors handle priced publications only. Priced monographic titles are generally ordered from a central government publications agency or from an agent such as Renouf. Examples are: The Stationery Office (TSO) for Great Britain, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), United States Government Printing Office (GPO).

Mailing Lists:

Some organizations will distribute selected publications by mailing lists. The agencies will occasionally request confirmation that the Library still wishes to receive available titles.


  • Public Works and Government Services, Canadian Government Publications
    • For titles not included in the Deposit
    • No discount
  • Statistics Canada
    • 30% discount (for extra copies?? And/or non-deposit?)
  • All other federal issuing agencies not covered by Deposit
  • Micromedia Proquest
    • Canadian Research Index: Microlog, dissertations, etc.


  • Queen’s Printers or designated vendors, eg: Crown Publications Inc. for B.C.
  • Individual provincial ministries


  • Issuing departments/agencies


    • We must pay foreign price; no discount
    • Good for subscriptions; we do not use for standing orders
  • Bernan Press
    • No discount
    • Good for standing orders; we do not use for subscriptions
  • Library of Congress
    • USGPO handles monographs
    • Cataloging Distribution Service for bibliographic products
  • All other issuing agencies


  • Asian Development Bank
    • Free depository
  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
    • Free depository (managed by Woodward Library?)
  • Renouf
    • Global subscription for SourceOECD, which includes all print titles, and subscriptions for European Environmental Agency, European Union, World Bank, World Tourism Organization.
    • We order monograph titles not included in the United Nations depository.
    • Excellent service.
    • No discount.
    • 50% discount
  • United Nations
    • Full depository, at a cost of $1750 USD annually, but it does not cover all UN offices, particularly those not in New York or Geneva.
    • Although the Library is entitled to a 25% discount on monographs when ordering directly, shipping costs are high, and we have started ordering through Renouf.
  • Other specialized UN agencies such as Unicef
  • World Health Organization
    • Free depository (managed by Woodward Library)


  • Australia
    • Australian Government Print Services (AGPS)
    • No discounts
    • Australian Statistical Bureau (ASB)
  • Britain
    • The Stationery Office (TSO)
    • Other issuing offices and agencies.
  • France
    • Aux Amateurs
  • Germany
    • Harrassowitz


Government publications in various forms are acquired.

Chronological limits


Coverage depends on when the depository programs for the various governmental agencies began.

Publication date

The majority of acquisitions will be for current publications.


English is the primary language for the collection.

Geographic origin

Major emphasis is on Canada, B.C., and international agencies and a lesser emphasis on the U.S. federal government, Western Europe, Southeast Asia, and Pacific Rim countries.

Collections in other UBC Libraries/ Areas of overlap

Law Library: Extensive collection of government publications relating to law.

Woodward Library: Extensive collection of government publications relating to the life sciences.