Western is a depository library for U.S. government publications. The federal government sends WWU publications (mostly digital links now), which the university promises to make available to the public. Western has been a depository since the 1960s and has hundreds of thousands of federal publications.
Western is also a depository for Washington state and was a depository for Canadian federal documents until that system closed in 2013. Western sometimes receives exclusive access to federal websites. For example, the Homeland Security Digital Library is only available, full-text, through depository libraries.
Most government publications can be found in the library catalog. (However, most U.S. federal documents published before 1976 are NOT in the catalog.) Most government documents circulate. They can be checked out by anyone with valid identification, not just Western students.