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|United Nations Collection Guide|
Top 5 Things to Know About Researching & the UN
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United Nations Collections
Because no single source of United Nations documents and publications is comprehensive, our collection is really a set of several overlapping collections. Some are only available in the University Libraries, some have limited access due to licensing restrictions and some are freely available online. In-depth research usually requires using some or all of these collections.
Indexes and Databases
Official Records, always identified as such on the title page, constitute the primary documents submitted to or issued by major UN organs at a given session or during a particular year. They consist of
"A document is a text submitted to a principal organ or a subsidiary organ of the United Nations for consideration by it, usually in connection with item(s) on its agenda."
Source: ST/AI/189/Add.3/Rev.2, para. 2 / Document Symbols.
Formerly known as "mimeographed documents", the masthead documents are by far the largest category of publication. They include materials designed to serve as a basis for discussion at UN meetings: reports, memoranda, studies, working papers, agendas, draft and final resolutions, decisions, and meeting records.
Many masthead documents are reprinted in a variety of other sources such as the Official Records, Yearbook of the United Nations, and the Annual Review of United Nations Affairs. Masthead documents are available from the Depository Collection for the current session, Readex Microfiche Collection from 1984- and the Official Documents System from 1993. Masthead documents are also indexed in the Indexes to the Official Records as well as the indexes listed in the Indexes section of this guide.
"The term 'United Nations publication' refers to any written material which is issued by or for the United Nations to the general public, normally under the authorization of the Publications Board."
(Source: ST/AI/189/Add.3/Rev.2, para. 4 / Document Symbols.
A subset of publications are "sales publications" which is a highly selective category of publications of general/broad interest which the United Nations offers for sale in order to give them the widest possible distribution outside the UN system. Also included in this category are periodicals (journals and magazines).
In general publications, sales or not, are indexed in the resources listed in the Indexes section of this guide.
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