Government goldmine: American Indian materials in government documents

Jennie M. Burroughs, Colleen Major

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose - The purpose of this article is to investigate government document collections to identify subject-related materials and offer suggestions for making those materials more evident to researchers. Design/methodology/approach - Using American Indian-related materials as a case study, the authors conducted a keyword and subject heading analysis of federal government publications from 1976 through 2006, quantifying the publication patterns of various agencies. The researchers used the data to gain a better understanding of the distribution of subject matter throughout the collection and to identify key series. Findings - The paper reveals that, in a traditional, Superintendent of Documents-classified, federal publications collection, materials with a common subject matter are produced by a wide variety of agencies. This dispersed production leads to disconnected pockets of relevant information, which creates more work for information seekers. Research limitations/implications - The case study analysis does not address materials produced prior to 1976 due to limited local cataloging. Future analyses could draw on catalogs with more extensive historical holdings. Practical implications - Libraries can consider several means of drawing users' attention to subject-related materials, including reclassifying collections, creating subject guides, and developing subject portals. Originality/value - The paper is useful for those working with separate government information collections who are looking for a methodical approach to identifying unexpected sources of relevant information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-55
Number of pages4
JournalCollection Building
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Data collection
  • Government
  • Information media
  • Native Americans


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