Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian collections at the Library of Congress are difficult to itemize/enumerate because they include millions of items in diverse formats and multiple languages. Chronologically they range from ancient history through the present; and they support research and creativity in many different fields on nearly any subject imaginable. While Jefferson’s famous Library included important works such as Cruz Cano y Olmedilla’s 1775 map of South America, the Library’s collections on the Americas predate this foundational acquisition. These collections continue to grow with acquisitions of contemporary and historical items daily. Copyright deposit ensures the Library receives interdisciplinary US published works about these regions and international approval plans guarantee continued collection of contemporary works from each of the countries and territories in Latin America, the Caribbean and Iberia. Retrospective purchases, gifts, and long-standing efforts to capture audio recordings for the PALABRA Archive enable broad and deep holdings exceeding 10 million items from 61 countries and/or regions in 26 different languages and in varying formats such as books, maps, photographs, manuscripts, and digital objects.
The Hispanic Reading Room provides access to materials from the General Collections and helps point researchers to relevant items in other reading rooms. The Handbook of Latin American Studies (Handbook) has engaged Latin Americanist and Caribbeanist researchers across multiple generations in contextualizing and describing more than 300,000 items from the Library's General Collections for Latin Americanist research in many subject areas. With bibliographic essays and annotations available in an annual print volume published in collaboration with the University of Texas Press and searchable descriptive annotations, the Handbook is an ongoing record of Latin American collections at the Library of Congress. This ongoing project reveals the trajectory of Latin American studies following connections through decades of research while illuminating new trends and groundbreaking studies. Dating back to the beginnings of the Hispanic Reading Room, the PALABRA Archive, offers original audio recordings of 20th and 21st century Luso-Hispanic poets and writers reading from their works. This archive includes literary figures from all over Latin America, the Iberian Peninsula, the Caribbean, and other regions with Hispanic and Portuguese heritage populations.The majority of the recordings from this collection are in Spanish, English, and Portuguese, but the archive also includes sessions in Catalan, Basque, French, Dutch, Creole, and Indigenous languages like Náhuatl, Zapotec, Maya, Quechua, Mapuche, and Aymara.
The Library of Congress offers numerous rarities from the Luso-Hispanic world among its Special Collections. For instance, the Manuscript Division houses a number of items, including the Mexican (2,939 folios) and Peruvian (1,405 folios) manuscripts of the Harkness Collection, which includes the Huexotzinco Codex – an eight-sheet Nahua document forming part of a legal case against representatives of the Spanish colonial government in Mexico. The Geography and Maps division serves three-dimensional items in the Kislak collection, textiles in the William and Inger Ginsberg Collection, as well as the Oztoticpac Lands Map, the Codex Quetzalecatzin, say nothing of numerous maps and atlases. The Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room holds more than three thousand rare books, maps, manuscripts, historic documents, artifacts, and works of art from the Kislak Collection, which is curated out of the Hispanic Reading Room. Researchers will also find extensive Carribean, Iberian and Latin American content in the Prints and Photographs, Music, Serials, Law, and American Folklife reading rooms.