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Physical & Digital Collections

Official Publications: Glossary

A guide to the official publications collections held within the Cambridge University Libraries.

Official Publication Terms

Blue Books - 1) A term used to describe House of Commons sessional papers including Bills, House Papers and Command Papers.

or 2) the Colonial Blue Books - books sent back to London by governors of the colonies each year collating statistical information and matters of interest. More detailed information is available on the Royal Commonwealth Society Official Publications Project webpages.

Circulars - The University Library stocks a large amount of government department circulars such as Home Office circulars. Current circulars are likely to be available online and are also sometimes reproduced in law looseleafs and handbooks held in the Squire Law Library.

Green Paper - Green Papers are consultation documents produced by the Government. The aim of this document is to allow people both inside and outside Parliament to give the department feedback on its policy or legislative proposals (definition from

Hansard - An edited record of what was said in the parliament of the United Kingdom.

Official Gazettes - An official gazette is the legal newspaper of a country, or of an administrative part of a country, which publishes the text of new laws, decrees, regulations, treaties, legal notices, and court decisions. The Foreign Official Gazette database (FOG) contains records for approximately 650 official gazette titles.

Parliamentary Rolls - Records from the English Parliaments between the 13th and 16th centuries.

Patents - A patent for an invention is granted by government to the inventor, giving the inventor the right to stop others, for a limited period, from making, using or selling the invention without their permission (definition from the British Library).

Standards - A Standard is a “document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose” (ISO, 2016). There is information about finding these on the Engineering Library LibGuide.

State Papers - The State Papers are documents created within government and stored in their archives. These official papers will either be held centrally in an archive or held by individual departments. Refer to the State Papers box on the United Kingdom, Parliamentary Papers page or consult staff.

Text & Data Mining - Text and data mining (TDM) is the process of deriving information from machine-read material. It works by copying large quantities of material, extracting the data, and recombining to identify patterns (definition from the UK Government). For more information about TDM, look at Cambridge University's LibGuide

Treaties - If searching for a treaty a good starting point is the United Nations Treaty Series for treaties since 1945. If you are looking for a historical treaty that the United Kingdom was party to it may be necessary to look at resources for state papers. Consult staff for further guidance.

White Papers - White Papers are policy documents produced by the Government that set out their proposals for future legislation. White Papers are often published as Command Papers and may include a draft version of a Bill that is being planned. This provides a basis for further consultation and discussion with interested or affected groups and allows final changes to be made before a Bill is formally presented to Parliament (definition from

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