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by George Caldwell, October 1990

The Library of Congress has limited holdings of U.S. military regulations. Our collections are far from complete. Our largest holdings are of Army Regulations. We have in the Serial and Government Publications Division all the Army Regulations which the Government Printing Office has sent out to depository libraries since 1993, which is the earliest year the Library keeps it's full depository collection.

Despite all this, our depository collection of Army Regulations is still very incomplete and spotty. The Library of Congress also has some older Army Regulations bound and shelved in the general collection, dating back to at least 1910. For Army Regulations we lack, we may turn to the Pentagon Library, which is supposed to have a complete collection, both current and retrospective. The Pentagon Library has been good about photocopyiong short regulations for us or lending us longer ones. We refer many library users to the General Accounting Office Law Library, which has a comprehensive collection of both current and superseded military regulations and is open to the public. Furthermore, the Defense Department has designated the National Technical Information Service in the Commerce Department as the official distribution point for the sale of current Army Regulations. Other possible sources for older Army Regulations are the National Archives and the University of Maryland, which as a regional depository for the state of Maryland has received a full set of depository publications from the Government Printing Office since 1865.

Air Force and Navy Regulations are more of a problem. They are more difficult to obtain, which explains why the Government Printing Office has not had many of them to distribute to depository libraries. The Library of Congress does not have many. Some years ago, the Library discarded its collection of old Air Force Regulations. The Air Force Headquarters Master Reference Library has a collection of current Air Force Regulations, but Pentagon access is required, and no photocopying is possible. Occasionally we have been able to get copies of current Air Force Regulations from the publications distribution service at Bolling Air Force Base. The National Technical Information Service is now the official source for purchasing current Air Force Regulations. The Air University Library at Maxwell Air Force Base is another possibility, and there is a Regulations Office at Maxwell which can provide helpful information. Current Navy regulations (called Instructions) can be acquired, with some difficulty, from the Naval Publications and Forms Center in Philadelphia or from the GAO Law library.

Military regulations can also be found in the Code of Federal Regulations and its companion publication, the Federal Register. The Library has numerous complete sets of these. However, the Code and the Register are not complete sources for military regulations, and a specific regulation can be difficult to track down in those publications.

Military regulations pose two important problems for the Library of Congress and other libraries. First, military publications are by far the most difficult type of government publications for libraries to acquire. Second, a substantial amount of staff time is required to maintain a collection of military regulations, because of the numerous revisions, changes, and loose-leaf filing necessary to keep such a collection current.

Revised by CB, 3-04.

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  July 19, 2010
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