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Albert S. Cook Library

Government Information

Cook Library is a designated Federal Depository Library. This guide will help you access the vast array of Federal government resources available in our library and online.

Federal Documents

Cook Library rejoined the Federal Depository Library Program in 2011. Our catalog now has over 94 thousand publications on our history, government, environment, science, economy and culture. Federal publications are a vast resource for researchers and students.

Internet links to documents are harvested by the Government Printing Office (GPO) (http://www.gpo.gov), the agency charged with federal government publishing. Many can also be found through  the Catalog of Government Publications (http://catalog.gpo.gov/F).

Although most special collections are not available in Cook One Search, which draws together publications from many different databases. it is possible to find online federal documents through special search terms.

To Begin: Boolean Search Operators

Many database allow for multiple concepts in a single search, using logical terms like AND, OR, or NOT (also known as “Boolean searches”):

  • IPO AND Phone – this tells the computer: give me results that have both terms in each record.
  • Extraneous OR Irrelevant – this says: give me results that have either term. Best used for similar terms.
  • Curriculum NOT syllabus – this says: give me results that have ‘curriculum’ but not ‘syllabus’.

Boolean searches also use parentheses to group these concepts, just like in math:

(mouse OR rat OR squirrel) AND desert – mice, bats and rats are grouped together, then joined with a more general term.

Finding Documents with Boolean Searches

To access Cook OneSearch, find the library’s homepage at http://libraries.towson.edu

GPO document links include the term ‘purl’ which is short for ‘permanent url’. Since most URLs with PURL are federal government documents, these records will also be labeled ‘electronic resource’.

Therefore, ‘purl’ and ‘electronic resource’ are terms you can use in the Cook OneSearch database. Used in combination with other keywords, these will retrieve documents on your topic.

Sample Search for Documents in Cook One Search

A sample expression would  work as follows: (purl AND “electronic resource”) AND Chesapeake

There is a default “Expander” that searches full text . This can get results you may not desire. Click the X next to it to change results.

To access the full text of the report, start by clicking on “Check Online Availability.”

A pop-up window will have options such as “Read full text at…” or “ Check Online Availability…” Full text options appear first, if available. Click on the link listed under “Read full text at” in the pop-up window. T he link will open a window to the document or web site.


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Contact the Research Help Desk at 410-704-2462 for further assistance.