Locate California Documents in the Library

This guide explains how to find documents issued by California state agencies and the California Legislature. Some are received as part of the Library's California documents depository and are available in the Documents Collection on the third floor of the Library.

If you need further assistance please contact our reference staff.

Seal of the State of California
California Depository Overview

The HSU Library is one of 125 California state depository libraries. The Library became an official "selective" depository in 1945, but some document series extend back to the beginning of California statehood in 1850.

Approximately 1,000 California documents are published annually, of which the Library receives about 140. These are split equally between legislative and state agency documents. Documents not available locally can be requested on interlibrary loan.

Publications from the University of California, e.g., University of California Publications in Botany, are not considered California documents. They are listed in the HSU Library Catalog and are shelved in the regular book collection.

Web Availability

Most current California documents are available on the web. In addition some older California documents are being digitized and becoming available on the web. Documents originally received in paper in the HSU Library may now be on the web.

Indexes to California documents may not indicate web availability. For current web availability search Google or other search engines. In addition the Government Information and Databases research guide lists sources for finding California documents and information on the web.

The California State Government: Web Archive collects and preserves on a regular basis hundreds of California state agency web sites that are useful for historical research.

Library Availability

With a citation to a California document you need to consult one of the following sources to find local availability and the CalDoc number for the document. You may have found this citation in a California document index, subject database, or in a personal reference.

1999 to present

  • HSU Library Catalog - lists individual California documents and some series titles available in the HSU Library. Search by author, title, subject or series name.


  • California Documents Shelflist (card catalog located outside the Humboldt Room) - lists in CalDoc number order California documents added to the Library before 1999. It is not an author, title or subject catalog. Use California document indexes or the California Documents Series Index to find the CalDoc number.
    California Documents Shelflist

    Shelflist cards show availability of documents in one of two ways as shown on the following cards:

    1. For a series there may be a card with checkmarks for individual items in the series:
      shelflist card
    2. There may be an individual card for each unique document or for each item in a series. 
      shelflist card


  • California Documents Series Index (drawers in the California Documents Shelflist) - lists document series available in the HSU Library along with the CalDoc number for the series , e.g., the California Geological Survey Bulletin (C 810 B9). With this number you can look in the California Documents Shelflist for local availability of individual titles in the series. 
    series shelflist card

California State Agency Classification System

California documents are organized using the California State Agency Classification System which groups materials by issuing agency rather than by subject. A copy of this classification system is kept next to the California Documents Shelflist.

Every California document is assigned a specific CalDoc number which is needed for locating a document in the HSU Library.

Example: California Statistical Abstract (F380 S8 2001) where

California Statistical Abstract F380 agency (Dept. of Finance)
.S 8 individual document or document series title
(California Statistical Abstract)
2001 = publication year or issue number


The first two lines of a typical CalDoc number are described below.

  • Agency

    The first alpha-numeric line refers to the agency. The letter is based on a keyword in the agency's name, e.g., W730 for the State Water Resources Control Board. Following is a list of major California agencies and their beginning CalDoc number:


    California Department of Food and Agriculture


    California Air Resources Board


    California Geological Survey

    C1225 California Department of Corrections


    California Department of Education


    California Employment Development Department


    California Board of Equalization

    E5000 California Environmental Protection Agency


    California Department of Finance


    California Department of Fish and Game


    California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection


    California Franchise Tax Board


    California Governor's Office


    California Department of Health Services

    J150 California Department of Justice


    California Bureau of Criminal Statistics

    L500 California Legislature


    California Department of Parks and Recreation


    California Secretary of State


    CSU Office of the Chancellor


    California Department of Transportation


    California Department of Water Resources


  • Individual or Series Title

    The second alpha-numeric line is based on a keyword from an individual document title or document series title. Some California documents are published in a series with a unique name, e.g., the California Geological Survey Bulletin (CalDocs C 810 B9). Each item is the series is numbered by volume or year.

    This second line is a decimal notation which determines the shelving order.

Shelving Tips

1. First line is alpha number -- whole numbers.

The first line is based on an agency keyword with whole numbers.

Here is an example of the shelving sequence:

No. 49

2. Second line is alpha numeric -- decimal numbers.

The second line is cuttered for a keyword in the title, then a decimal number sequence.

Here are some examples of the shelving sequence:


Indexes to California Documents

The following indexes and catalogs can be used to find documents issued by California state agencies and the California Legislature. These resources can be searched by subject, title or author.

  • HSU Library Catalog - includes approximately 2000 California documents added to the HSU Library since 1999 and selected older ones. You can easily limit your search to "Government Documents" using the basic Limits option that searches both U.S. and California documents. You can also limit to just California documents using More Limits button.
    HSU Library Catalog California Document Limit
  • California State Publications - this is the major index to California documents and is searchable from 1945 to present using the following resources.

    From these resources you will need to get the CalDoc number and then check either the HSU Library Catalog or California Documents Shelflist for local availability.

    • California State Publications - open the tab “Basic Search,” then to limit to California State Publications you will need to type in csp and followed by a keyword or phrase.

    • California State Publications (CalDoc L575 P94) - annual print index to California documents for 1945-1981 followed by microfiche in several cumulations for 1982 to 2000. CalDoc numbers were not included until 1958. (For earlier years News Notes of California Libraries (CalDoc L575 N4) includes a quarterly checklist of California documents from 1906 to 1947)
    • California State Library Catalog - includes most California documents that have appeared in the print, microfiche and online versions of California State Publications. Results will also include books and some federal documents in the California State Library.
    • Melvyl (University of California Libraries Catalog) - search the California State Library Catalog through Melvyl. Limit to "CA State Library" and "Goverment documents" using Optional Limits as shown below:
      Melvyl Catalog