Collections

The Library of Congress collections from or pertaining to Europe began with the acquisition of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library, which contained representative works on European history and culture in many subjects. Since Jefferson’s day, the Library’s European collections have grown in size and quality in order to meet the needs of Congress and of the scholarly community in all disciplines. The Library’s European collections are among the finest in the world, and are especially strong in history, literature, and the social sciences. European materials feature prominently in the collections of the Rare Book & Special Collections Reading Room, the Geography & Map Reading Room, the Newspaper & Current Periodicals Reading Room, and the Performing Arts Reading Room among others. The General Collections of books and bound periodicals have more than 5.75 million volumes from Russia, Germany, and France alone and are the largest among the European holdings.

The European Reading Room has custody and provides access to Slavic and Baltic current unbound newspapers and periodicals. The Reading Room also has more than 25,000 reels of microfilm of Slavic and Baltic newspapers available. The Reading Room provides an extensive print reference collection for Europe, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, guides, specialized catalogs, and other materials. The European Reading Room has a number of special collections, ranging from Easter European election ephemera to the Rubinov Collection of letters written by Soviet citizens to the Russian publication Literaturnaia Gazeta. Information is provided about these materials in numerous research guides that specialists and librarians from the European Reading Room have prepared.

The Library of Congress has a substantial collection of foreign telephone directories, including ones for countries of Europe. Generally such directories are not cataloged. The European Reading Room provides information about the directories in the Library's collections in research guides.

In a research guide, European Reading Room: Publications, History, Annual Reports, the history of the European Reading Room and the work of its librarians is documented. This information provides insights into how the Library's substantial collections from and about Europe were acquired. This LibGuide also lists and provides links to digitized versions of publications that Reading Room staff have produced. Most of these publications describe European collection materials that the Library has acquired.

Country collection overviews provide descriptions of the Library’s European collections (including the Russian-speaking areas of Asia, but excluding Spain, Portugal, and the British Isles). These overviews describe both the materials in the Library's general collections (books, periodicals, and newspapers) as well as materials available in special format collection reading rooms.

A brief overview of the Library’s European collections is available in the online version of the Library of Congress publication, Library of Congress European Collections: An Illustrated Guide..

  • Digital Collections European Reading Room subject specialists identify materials with high research value for digitization from the Library's extensive European collections as well as provide reference assistance for users of these digital collections. Significant digital collections include digitized manuscript materials and collection items from participant institutions in the World Digital Library as well as the unique Polish Declarations of Admiration and Friendship for the United States.
  • Web Archives European Reading Room subject specialists work with the Library's web archiving team to create web archive collections for which they have selected appropriate websites on a range of contemporary topics. These web archive collections supplement print materials that the Library has acquired otherwise. In some cases these web archives represent the current medium for publishing of information that was previously available in printed form....