Notable Government Documents

About the Notable Government Documents To recognize excellence in government publications, identify documents of distinction, and commend
individual works of superlative nature.

The "Notable Documents List" was originally begun by the Notable Documents Panel of the American Library Association's Government Documents Round Table, with hopes that the list would promote awareness and acquisition of government publications by libraries and use by library patrons. The list also was intended to recognize the individuals and agencies involved in producing these excellent sources of information and inspiration.

The Notable Documents Panel was initiated in 1982, by a proposal from the Education Task Force to the GODORT Steering Committee. The annotated citations lead to hundreds of outstanding publications from all levels of government and in an ever expanding range of formats. Reprints are available free as a public service from LexisNexis, 7500 Old Georgetown Rd, Bethesda, MD 20814.

The "Notable Documents List" first appeared in RQ in the 1984 and 1985 spring issues. From 1986 on it has been published in the May 15 issue of Library Journal. Yearly citations cover documents from the previous two years, so "1983 Notable Documents List" published in 1984 would include items published in 1982/1983 and so on. Beginning in the early nineties, the annual feature took on distinctive titles, with the subtitle "Notable Documents" and, 1992 on, "Notable Government Documents."

A complete bibliography of the lists can be found

Administered by:

Government Documents Round Table (GODORT) logo

Award and Frequency

The final list is published in Library Journal in the May 15 issue.

This award is given out on an annual basis.


Kinds of Documents to be Considered (Characteristics of the list)
(Note: Although the term "document" is used throughout the policies and procedures in this section, it
does not refer solely to printed materials. See point d below.)

  • Documents prepared by or for official international agencies, individual national government, and subsidiary state, provincial or local government and released for public use are eligible for consideration.
  • Documents must have been made available through a depository library program, distributed by the issuing agency, or sold by official publications outlets. They need not be in-print currently, so long as they are available in depository collections or through interlibrary loan to the public.
  • The list may be presented in one alphabetical title sequence or in title sequence within each of the following three groups, and the total number of titles will be divided evenly between the categories: U.S. Federal Documents - 20; International - 20; State/Provincial/ Local - 20. Distribution of titles will be flexible. If, for example, in a given year, only 19 U.S. documents were selected, one more document could be added among the other categories. As current publisher, Library Journal may request fewer items.
  • Documents may be in any language or format, such as, but not limited to, print, CD-ROM, video, or electronic resources.
  • While technical report literature as such is not to be excluded from consideration, it is expected that much highly technical information prepared for scholars and experts would be inappropriate for this type of list.
  • Documents published during the present or preceding year will be eligible for nomination.

Application Instructions

  • Documents may be nominated by librarians and publishing agencies.
  • Nominations may be sent to the chair or directly to any of the three selectors.
  • Copies of international or U.S. Federal documents that are readily accessible should not be forwarded with the nomination. Copies of State, Provincial or Local materials that are not as accessible as the above should be forwarded whenever possible, to facilitate the Panel's work.
  • Nominations should be accompanied by a brief justifying statement (75 word maximum). Whenever possible, nominators should include the following information:
    • Issuing agencies,
    • Complete titles,
    • Individual authors,
    • Dates of publication,
    • Series or report numbers,
    • Classification numbers,
    • Depository/Non-depository status.
  • The Selectors will check the accuracy of bibliographic information for all entries.


Contact Information

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Selection Criteria

Nominations will be judged on a point basis according to the following nine (9) criteria.

  1. Extent of lasting value.
  2. Extent of reference and bibliographic value.
  3. Extent to which the document contributes to the expansion of knowledge, gives evidence of innovation in presentation, or demonstrates a creative approach in its treatment.
  4. Extent to which the document contributes to an understanding of government processes, functions or purview; provides significant government information; or reflects the mission of the publishing agency.
  5. Extent to which the document contributes to enhancing the quality of life or provides information that helps the reader make informed decisions on important issues.
  6. Extent to which a document appeals to a broad audience.
  7. Extent to which the document is written in a lucid style comprehensible to nonspecialists.
  8. Extent to which the title reflects actual contents and achieves its intended purpose by following through on its thesis and doing what it says it will do.
  9. Consideration is given to the physical appearance including such features as typography, design, design and paper, quality of illustrations, maps, table charts, graphs...etc., printing, binding, use of color, ease of use of volume; extent to which document is generally pleasant to browse through. Additionally with electronic documents, consideration is given to the ability to browse a document, overall usability, search interface and capabilities, frequency of updating, etc.