Available Indexes

U.S. Federal Documents Program Update


Federal Documents within the HathiTrust Digital Library, as of July 1, 2017

  • 422,616 bibliographic records
  • 1,044,551 separate digital objects
  • 397,067 monographs
  • 25,206 serial titles

Searchable U.S. Federal Documents collection

HathiTrust and Michigan staff have developed a new access point for federal documents within HathiTrust, the U.S. Federal Documents collection. This new collection enables users to search and browse a set limited to only federal documents in HathiTrust.

Items included in the collection were identified as federal documents via metadata, using the same parameters as in our earlier Federal Documents Collection Profile. Going forward, the collection will be actively curated and maintained by HathiTrust staff. As new digital federal documents come into HathiTrust, they will be added to the collection if they meet our criteria.

Full text search, advanced full text search and faceted browsing provide granular discovery within the collection. In addition, as with all HathiTrust collections, we offer persistent links to the collection and to each item within, and access to items that do not have rights restrictions. Another updated feature for this collection is the “Download Metadata” button located on the left sidebar. A set of collection metadata may be downloaded in TSV or JSON format. JSON downloads can be imported for analysis into the HathiTrust Research Center. We encourage you to give the new collection a try, and welcome your feedback via the “Feedback” link at the top of every page.

Federal documents collection-building priorities

An initial round of HathiTrust federal documents collection priorities, have been set in consultation with the Federal Documents Advisory Committee. To the extent possible, we will aim for completeness in these priority categories as we tackle new collaborative projects. The priorities were chosen after considering a number of criteria including: recommendations of previous HathiTrust working groups, widely known and consulted series distributed by the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO), priority titles selected for the collection profile project, titles commonly held by HathiTrust member libraries in print, synergies with the broader HathiTrust collection, synergies with other large collaborative endeavors related to federal documents, potential for HathiTrust Research Center use, and finally (and importantly), compelling and broader general interest for both member libraries and end users.

A first collection reflecting these priorities is now available, Statistical Abstract of the United States. As we build new, complete subsets of federal documents with HathiTrust, we intend to add searchable collections for those as well. We expect that what we learn will be applicable to other topical collection areas and opportunities for collaborative digital collection-building within HathiTrust.


In May, Program Officer Heather Christenson presented a webinar for the GPO’s FDLP Academy webinar series. The webinar provided an overview of the HathiTrust federal documents collection and described how to use HathiTrust features to access the documents within HathiTrust. A recording of the presentation is available on the GPO web site.

Later in the month she presented a different kind of interpretation of HathiTrust and its collections, including federal documents, at the Libraries & Archives in the Anthropocene colloquium, making the case for the value of the large scale digital library in this time of change in a presentation entitled The Large-scale Digital Library & Response to the Anthropocene. More information may be found on the conference web site.

Updates on the HathiTrust Federal Documents Program were provided for several GODORT sessions at the recent ALA Annual Conference -- an update on the U.S. Federal Documents Registry was distributed to the Cataloging Committee, and an “At A Glance” handout was distributed to attendees of the Government information preservation session.


  • Analyst Valerie Glenn completed an assessment of the HathiTrust rights determination process as it relates to federal documents, making recommendations regarding ways to improve processes and potentially open up more federal documents. The report is being reviewed and discussed internally.
  • Program staff and the CDL Zephir metadata management team have made progress in design of a “fed docs suggester.” As bibliographic metadata comes into HathiTrust from a member library, this tool will review the metadata for correct identification of federal documents and provide information back to the contributor.

US Federal Documents Registry

Staff have made improvements to the data in the US Federal Documents Registry, including:

  • Refreshing of Registry data - an update from the University of Michigan added new records and provided new enumeration and chronology for recently produced publications;
  • Incorporation of Library of Congress name authorities into the Registry - this is expected to improve the accuracy of our efforts to identify gaps based on agency, as well as duplicate detection;
  • Normalization of enumeration and chronology - staff developed and incorporated rules for default normalization for all records with enumeration and chronology; additional rules were developed for specific series, including the Monthly Labor Review, Minerals Yearbook, and United States Reports.


Over the summer, HathiTrust will initiate a collaborative project to fill in gaps in the HathiTrust federal documents collection via existing digitization projects already underway at member libraries. Participants invited in the initial phase of the project will be HathiTrust member libraries with active digitization workflows who have already digitized federal documents or who are interested in doing so. The project will focus on the full set of agencies, departments, and other federal documents designated as priorities in the HathiTrust Federal Documents Collection Framework. HathiTrust staff will provide libraries with information on federal documents held in their libraries that we wish to add to HathiTrust, and it is expected that libraries will carry out digitization. Specific details of the project will be worked out via a consultative process with participating libraries. For more information please contact Heather Christenson, christeh@hathitrust.org.