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United Nations Collection Guide
Table of Contents:

Top 5 Things to Know About Researching & the UN
  1. The Libraries welcome your questions - you can contact us in person, on the phone, via email or through chat. See http://infopoint.lib.umn.edu/
  2. There is no single place to go to search for UN documents and publications.
    • AccessUN is the most comprehensive, but there's still plenty of UN content that isn't indexed there. See Indexes for details.

  3. The web is an increasingly good source for UN content, provided you make sure you're actually on an official UN website. Use the following to help identify official UN web sites, as well as the Collections described below:
  4. The University Libraries have more than the depository UN documents. Often, a selector for a particular subject will buy a book that's relevant for that subject, but isn't depository.
    • So: Always check MNCAT - http://mncat.lib.umn.edu
    • Limit the author to the UN or one of its subsidiary bodies and search on relevant keywords.

  5. The Libraries often have titles in more than one format - if the paper copy isn't on the shelf, there may be a microfiche or online version available. See the Collections described below.


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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.
  • The Depository Collection
    We are a full United Nations Depository library. This means that the UN will send to the library printed copies of all of its official records, publications and masthead documents that are designated as "depository". Because many UN documents and publications are not included in the deposit, we supplement the depository materials with the microfiche collection described below.

    Contents:
    • Official Records of main organs of the United Nations
    • most sales publications
    • the United Nations Treaty Series
    • all periodicals normally available by subscription
    • masthead documents (i.e., working documents) of the regional commission located in the area of the library
    • all masthead documents and publications placed in general distribution, except preliminary versions of verbatim records of plenary meetings of the Security Council.

    Depository Collection Location:
    TC Wilson Library Gov Pub (UN Docs) Rows 1-15
    Depository Collection Shelf Arrangement:
    http://govpubs.lib.umn.edu/guides/unarrangement.phtml
  • The Readex Microfiche Collection
    This collection provides ready access to microfiche copies of UN documents covering the years 1946-1980 and 1986 to date. The microfiche collection includes virtually every document from the UN main bodies (depository or not), including "Limited" and "Restricted" documents which are generally not distributed in print.

    Contents:
    • all of the above
    • plus Limited and Restricted Documents not included in the Depository program.
    • minus Sales Publications

    Microfiche Collection Location:
    TC Wilson Library Gov Pub Microfiche Cabinets 2-8
    Microfiche Collection Arrangement:
    http://govpubs.lib.umn.edu/guides/uncabinet.phtml
  • United Nations Treaty Collection
    http://www.lib.umn.edu/get/3041
    Available on the site: all multilateral treaties deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and those formerly deposited with the League of Nations - their latest status and a link to the full texts; bilateral and multilateral treaties registered with and published by the United Nations Secretariat in accordance with Article 102 up to a certain date - Detailed treaty references and full texts in all authentic languages; recently deposited multilateral treaties that have been deposited but not yet published - available for viewing and downloading in some or all of their authentic languages.
  • Official Documents System of the United Nations
    http://documents.un.org/welcome.asp?language=E
    Resource Temporarily Unavailable The ODS is a multilingual system. Therefore, it requires UNICODE-based Internet browsers, such as MS Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher, Netscape 6.21 or higher or FireFox. For these three browsers, go to the View Menu and select
    ODS covers all types of official United Nations documentation, beginning in 1993. Older UN documents are, however, added to the system on a daily basis. ODS also provides access to the resolutions of the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council from 1946 onwards. The system does not contain press releases, UN sales publications, the United Nations Treaty Series or information brochures issued by the Department of Public Information.
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Background Resources
  • Documents from the founding of the UN
  • Permanent Missions to the United Nations
    http://www.unsystem.org/en/permanent.missions.en.htm
    A mission to the UN is an office of a member or non-member observer group that facilitates communication between the member or observer and the UN and other missions. This publication is published semiannually and lists members of permanent missions to UN Headquarters, including member countries, countries with observer status, and other international governmental organizations. Also includes listing of current membership of the Security Council, Economic and Social Council, International Court of Justice, and the Trusteeship Council. The web site is a compilation of only those missions with Web pages.
    • Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability http://prime2.oit.umn.edu:1701/primo_library/libweb/action/display.do?fn=display&vid=TWINCITIES&doc=umn_aleph000336074
  • Yearbook of the United Nations
    Covers the UN aspect of international issues such as development policy, natural resources, energy and environment, transnational corporations, economic trends, population and human settlement, human health, and regional outlooks for Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. Also included are agenda, legal, budgetary and charter aspects, and directories of agencies and member organizations.
    • Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability http://prime2.oit.umn.edu:1701/primo_library/libweb/action/display.do?fn=display&vid=TWINCITIES&doc=umn_aleph000775820
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Current Resources
  • Journal of the United Nations
    http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/En/lateste.pdf
    Daily listing of meetings and agendas at UN Headquarters in New York, brief summaries of the previous day's meetings (often including the results of votes and reference to internal documents), announcements, and forthcoming meetings. Previous issues are in Government Publications in the UN microfiche collection and filed just before the Secretariat section.
  • Newspapers and Periodicals

    Newspapers and periodicals report on United Nations activities in New York and abroad. The New York Times, the Times (London), Le Monde (Paris), the Economist, and Le Monde Diplomatique include significant coverage of the United Nations. These and other major newspapers and periodicals are indexed in the following indexes.
    • LexisNexis Academic
      http://www.lib.umn.edu/get/3317
      LexisNexis Academic is a full text databases of business, legal, news, magazines, and wire services. It includes sources for accounting, environmental studies, health and medical care, government and politics, people, and consumer information. Legal publications include law journals, federal and state statutes, codes, cases, agency rules & regulations, patents and legal reference materials.
  • UN News Centre
    http://www.un.org/News/
    Maintained by the UN's Department of Public Information with searchable press releases, links to the press releases of the UN's specialized agencies, full-text access to some of the UN's Web periodicals, and documents about current world events.
  • UN Wire
    http://www.unfoundation.org/unwire/
    Free service sponsored by the United Nations Foundation and Better World Fund, featuring daily summaries of key news stories from around the world. Has direct links to full-text, audio, video and additional sources of informationon the Internet. Starts from January 1999.
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Indexes and Databases
  • Online Indexes
    • AccessUN
      http://www.lib.umn.edu/get/3165
      AccessUN provides access to bibliographic citations of current and retrospective United Nations documents and publications including:
      • the UN collections of the Government Publications Library
      • articles appearing in UN periodicals
      • the bilateral and multilateral treaties in the UN Treaty Series
      • full text documents from the:
        • General Assembly - resolutions from 1981-
        • Security Council - resolutions from 1974-
        • Economic and Social Council - resolutions from 1982-
    • AccessUNDP
      http://www.lib.umn.edu/get/3166
      Indexes United Nations Development Programme Project Reports issued and held by UN headquarters between the years 1972-1998. Provides access to evaluative, technical and terminal reports submitted to the UN by numerous participating and executing agencies. The Government Publications Library holds the corresponding full-text microfiche collection from NewsBank/Readex, which also produced the index.
    • AGRIS
      Strong in agricultural and development economics of developing countries; AGRIS, the International System for the Agricultural Sciences and Technology, is an international bibliographic database. It is produced by the AGRIS Coordinating Centre, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, Italy, in cooperation with participating countries and international organizations.
      [Resource no longer available]
    • UNBISnet
      http://unbisnet.un.org/
      UNBISnet, the UN Bibliographic Information System, is the primary index to United Nations documentation published since 1979, or earlier for selected major documents, by the United Nations Dag Hammarskjold Library and the Library of the UN Office at Geneva. It also includes the catalogue of the collections of the Dag Hammarskjold Library.
      Included are:
      • Links to full text of resolutions adopted by the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council, going back to 1946
      • the voting records for all resolutions which were adopted by the General Assembly beginning with its 1st session (1946-) and the Security Council beginning with its 1st year (1946-)
      • citations to speeches made in the General Assembly beginning with its 38th session (1983-), the Security Council beginning with its 38th year (1983-), the Economic and Social Council beginning in 1983 and the Trusteeship Council beginning with its 15th special session (1982)

      • Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability http://prime2.oit.umn.edu:1701/primo_library/libweb/action/display.do?fn=display&vid=TWINCITIES&doc=umn_aleph001171286
    • UNESBIB
      http://unesdoc.unesco.org/ulis/unesbib.html
      Contains over 98,000 bibliographic records of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) documents/publications in the Organization's fields of competence (education, science, culture, social and human sciences, communication, information and informatics), since 1946, as well as book/periodical acquisitions of its Library.
    • UN-I-QUE: United Nations Info Quest
      http://lib-unique.un.org/lib/unique.nsf
      UN-I-QUE (UN Info Quest), is designed to provide quick subject access to selected UN materials, especially series, from 1946 onwards. UN-I-QUE includes:
      - annual/sessional reports of committees/commissions;
      - annual publications; reports periodically/irregularly issued;
      - reports of major conferences;
      - statements in the General Debate; etc.
  • Print Indexes (in reverse chronological order)
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Official Records
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
  • meeting records;
  • resolutions;
  • reports of major organs, committees and commissions as well as the budget and financial reports (each issued as a separately numbered "Supplement" and comprehensively listed in UN-I-QUE); and
  • reprints of other important documents (issued sessionally as "Annexes" and organized by agenda item number in the case of the General Assembly or quarterly "Supplements" listed by document symbol in the case of the Security Council).
Official Records are also produced for some of the major conferences (e.g., United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court).
  • Official Records of the General Assembly
    Index to the Proceedings: Check MNCAT Record
    • Location(s): TC Wilson Library Gov Pub (UN Docs) GAOR/sess./#
  • Official Records of the Economic and Social Council
    Index to the Proceedings: Check MNCAT Record
    • Location(s): 1946 - 2001: TC Wilson Library Gov Pub (UN Docs) ESCOR/sess./
    2002 - present: TC Wilson Library Gov Pub (UN Docs) ESCOR/year/#
  • Official Records of the Security Council
    Index to the Proceedings: Check MNCAT Record
    • Location(s): 1946 - 2001: TC Wilson Library Gov Pub (UN Docs) SCOR/sess./#
    2002 - present: TC Wilson Library Gov Pub (UN Docs) SCOR/year/#
  • Official Records of the Trusteeship Council
    Index to the Proceedings: Check MNCAT Record
    • Location(s): TC Wilson Library Gov Pub (UN Docs) TCOR/sess./#
  • Official Records Online
    • UN Documentation Centre
      http://www.un.org/documents/
      Full-text, PDF files of recent major documents produced by the six principal organs of the UN, including resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council and Reports of the Secretary-General.
  • Help
    • UN-I-QUE: United Nations Info Quest
      http://lib-unique.un.org/lib/unique.nsf
      UN-I-QUE (UN Info Quest), is designed to provide quick subject access to selected UN materials, especially series, from 1946 onwards. UN-I-QUE includes:
      - annual/sessional reports of committees/commissions;
      - annual publications; reports periodically/irregularly issued;
      - reports of major conferences;
      - statements in the General Debate; etc.
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Masthead Documents
"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.
  • Yearbook of the United Nations
    Covers the UN aspect of international issues such as development policy, natural resources, energy and environment, transnational corporations, economic trends, population and human settlement, human health, and regional outlooks for Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. Also included are agenda, legal, budgetary and charter aspects, and directories of agencies and member organizations.
    • Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability http://prime2.oit.umn.edu:1701/primo_library/libweb/action/display.do?fn=display&vid=TWINCITIES&doc=umn_aleph000775820
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Publications
"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.
  • UN System Pathfinder
    http://www.un.org/Depts/dhl/pathfind/frame/start.htm
    The purpose of this pathfinder by the United Nations is to identify major publications of the organizations comprising the United Nations system. Materials were selected with a view to currency, relevance and usefulness. Global studies and reports, handbooks and guides, bibliographies and indices, international statistical publications, compilations of treaties, resolutions and documents as well as annual reports of UN bodies and specialized agencies are included. With few exceptions, publications of regional scope, such as those of the regional commissions, sessional and parliamentary documents, periodicals and periodical articles are excluded.
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Related Guides
  • UN Documentation: Research Guide
    http://www.un.org/Depts/dhl/resguide/
    This guide is designed for researchers and information professionals new to United Nations documentation. It provides an overview of the various types of documents and publications issued by the Organization (e.g, reports, resolutions, meeting records, sales publications, press releases) and gives guidance on how to work with them.
  • United Nations Subject Research Guides
    http://www.un.org/Depts/dhl/subjectguides.htm
    The Dag Hammarskj÷ld Library, the library at the UN headquarters in New York, has put together several subject-based research guides to UN materials. Subjects include human rights, UN reform and peacekeeping operations.


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