Collections > Government Documents, Law, and Maps

Click on a link below to go directly to the named section in this guide.

Circulation Policies

Most monographic government documents in our collection circulate for the same time limit as other library materials, with some exceptions. Document reference, statistical, cartographic and microfiche documents do not circulate but may be used within the department. If you request outdated materials from the department, the staff may refer you to more current websites. But whenever you are using government information, please ask for assistance from one of the staff members in the Government Documents, Law, and Maps department.



Please note that the Government Documents, Law, and Maps department is not open all of the hours that Sherrod Library is open. Please check the Hours of Operation for more information about the department schedule.


Introduction to the Sherrod Depository Collection

The Sherrod Library of ETSU has been a federal (U.S) selective depository for the 1st Congressional District of Tennessee since 1942, although some of our materials pre-date this time. We are currently one of 22 depository libraries in the state of Tennessee, selecting approximately 50% of the items distributed by the Superintendant of Documents within the U.S. Government Printing Office. Our collection is one of the seven largest in Tennessee with the University of Memphis McWhirter Library serving as the regional depository. Sherrod Library has also been a depository for Tennessee state documents since 1978.

During the past 60 plus years, our collection has grown to well over 900,000 items. We select heavily in areas relating to education, health, justice, business, the environment, and veterans' affairs.

Government information comes in many sizes, shapes and formats. Almost all official publications appeared solely in print or paper until the 1970's. At that time many publications were also released in microfiche. Then in the 1980's the diversity of government information became apparent. Various audiovisual items and electronic data on floppy diskettes began to appear. The 1990's saw the rise of electronic information and government information being issued on CD-ROMs and DVDs. Now government information has begun the migration to the ultimate electronic format -- the Internet. Congress has determined they will eventually discontinue printing government information in monographic forms and that virtually all government information will be located on the Internet. However, until that time, depository libraries such as ours will continue to be the focal point in obtaining and maintaining government information in the available and appropriate formats.

Since 1996, documents received in all formats (print, serial, microfiche, maps, electronic and Internet) have been added to the online catalog for convenience. Other items are being added as appropriate and when they circulate. These items in the online catalog represent only a fraction of federal documents in our collection. Government information and documents may be located using a variety of library databases. The most comprehensive database is the GPO Index for documents, covering the years 1976 to date. To track government documents that have migrated from print to electronic formats please consult Uncle Sam at the University of Memphis website:


The Legal Collection at Sherrod Library

Sherrod Library is both a depository and repository for several special collections relating to law and political science. The Government Documents, Law, and Maps department is the site of the ETSU/Washington County Cooperative Law Collection, created by Tennessee Private Act, Chapter 127, in 1977, and housed in the Sherrod Library since 1978.

The non-circulating Cooperative Law Collection which contains approximately 16,000 volumes includes codes (federal, state, local) digests, reporters and citators, legal encyclopedias, specialized treatises and related legal reference materials. Among the treatises are various looseleaf services which report the activity of congressional legislation and federal court cases on a weekly/bi-weekly basis.

Many of the newer legal resources are located only on the Internet. The major legal online resource is Lexis-Nexis. This database provides access to all fifty (50) state codes, legal reference materials, cases and legislation. Please explore this valuable online resource. For more information on legal research, see Research tools > Research by Topic.

Our library contains the largest collection of legal materials found within a 75-mile radius of Johnson City and the only major collection situated between the University of Tennessee College of Law in Knoxville, the Washington & Lee University School of Law in Lexington (VA), and the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy (VA). While there are several private law firms within the region which contain collections of a similar size and scope, they are not open to the general public.

Because using and citing legal resources for the first time can be both time consuming and confusing, please contact to the documents/law/maps collection for help with your legal research. We will be glad to assist when appropriate. We cannot and do not provide legal advice; we are here only to assist with access to legal resource materials.


The Maps Collection at Sherrod Library

The government documents/law/maps collection also contains topographical and other types of mapes issued by various government agencies. For standard road maps, atlases, etc., use reference resources located on the main floor of the library. A page of Tennessee-related maps on the Web is available at


[ Site Search ] [ Site Index ] [ Contact Us ] [ Sherrod Library home ] [ ETSU home ]