Skip Navigation Links  The Library of Congress >> Researchers
Main Reading Room (Humanities and Social Sciences Division)
  Home >> Reference Collections

Main Reading Room Reference Collections

Jump to: MRR Reference Desk Collection | Biography Alcove | Congressional Hearings Collection
Telephone, City, and Criss-Cross Directories | Microform Guide Collection | Quotation Book Collection

The Main Reading Room (MRR) houses a large general reference collection emphasizing humanities, social sciences, and bibliography. The mission of the Main Reading Room Reference Collection is to provide comprehensive reference and research materials in the humanities, especially religion, philosophy, language, literature, art, and history, as well as in biography, bibliography, and library science. The collection also covers the social sciences (for business and economics see Business Reference Services), especially psychology, sociology, political science, and education. Only a few titles are held in subjects where a specialized reading room exists, e.g. music, law, or science.

This collection contains almost 20,000 titles in about 70,000 volumes. The books are on open shelves in the alcoves (MRR Alc) of the Main Reading Room (on both the main floor and the first balcony), on Deck 7 (enter through Alcove 3), on Deck 46 (enter through Alcove 4), on Deck 16 (enter through Alcove 7), and in the Reference Assistance Room (MRR Ref Desk).

Most of the titles assigned to the Main Reading Room reference collection are so designated in the online catalog. To see if a specific title is available on the open shelves of the Main Reading Room, consult a reference librarian or use the "Expert Search" feature of the online catalog; type the search phrase in combination with the qualifier "Alc" (e.g. "Oxford English Dictionary" AND Alc).

Top of Page

MRR Reference Desk Collection

This small ready-reference collection is located in the Reference Assistance Room where reference librarians are on duty during the hours the Main Reading Room is open. These are the volumes most frequently consulted by researchers. They include almanacs, directories of books in print, indexes, statistical sources, directories, guides to colleges and scholarships, poetry indexes, and reference aids prepared by reference librarians.

Top of Page

Biography Alcove

For biographical information readers will find almost 1300 collected biographies in Alcoves 5A, 5B, and 6 of the Main Reading Room. Works shelved here include many U.S. and international "Who's Who" publications. A useful guide to many of these volumes is the Biography and Genealogy Master Index and its supplements (Z5305.U5B57 MRR Biog). Many other biographical works can be found in the closed stacks and in the Microform Reading Room collections. To identify these works, consult the computer and card catalogs and a reference librarian.

Top of Page

Congressional Hearings Collection

The Main Reading Room contains a full set of recent Congressional hearings beginning on the curved shelves in the center of the room with the 78th (1943) Congress, continuing on Deck 16 with all hearings from the 81st (1949) to the 96th Congress (1980), and concluding with hearings from the 97th to the current Congress on Deck 7. Since there are many other locations for Congressional hearings, please consult a reference librarian.

Top of Page

Telephone, City, and Criss-Cross Directories

Current U.S. telephone, city, and criss-cross directories and current foreign telephone directories are located on Deck 46 of the Main Reading Room. For older directories consult a reference librarian or request a copy of Telephone and City Directories in the Library of Congress: A Finding Guide.

Some foreign city directories are shelved in call number order in the Main Reading Room alcoves.

Top of Page

Microform Guide Collection

The over 400 published and unpublished guides to the collections of the Microform Reading Room are housed in the Reference Assistance Room of the Main Reading Room. These guides often represent the only listing of items in the vast microform collections. These collections include reproductions as well as original micropublications and contain books, serials, manuscripts, pamphlets, photographs, dissertations, government documents, broadcasting transcripts, and a variety of ephemera. The languages covered include the same languages found in the Library's general hardcopy collection as well as several non-Roman script languages; the range of subjects is as broad, if not broader, than those found in the book collections. Listings of the collections and the guides can be found in A Guide to the Microform Collections in the Humanities and Social Sciences Division of the Library of Congress. Information about microform collections and guides can also be found in the Library's online catalog by choosing the "Command Keyword" option and using the search term "microform" in combination with other search terms (e.g. "slave narratives" AND microform). Please consult a reference librarian for assistance. There are also online guides to microform collections on the following subjects:

Top of Page

Quotation Book Collection

Over 150 volumes of quotations are shelved in call number order in the Reference Assistance Room off the Main Reading Room. These include works on specific subjects (such as politics, women, religion), as well as general collections. Titles devoted entirely to quotations by a single individual are not shelved here but are shelved by call number in the Main Reading Room alcoves, as are a few concordances to the works of individuals. The Library's general collections in the closed stacks contain numerous additional dictionaries of quotations. These can be identified using the computer and card catalogs; consult a reference librarian for further assistance.

Top of Page Top of Page
  Home >> Reference Collections
  The Library of Congress >> Researchers
  September 13, 2011
Legal | External Link Disclaimer

Contact Us:  
Ask a Librarian