Main Reading Room. Portrait statues of Homer and Plato along the balustrade. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C., Carol Highsmith, photographer

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International Collections

A Map of Philadelphia and Parts Adjacent

Image of a house on a mountain top, Sung Dynasty, 11th-14th Century.

The Library's international collections comprise materials from all over the globe and its foreign-language materials are stunning in their scope and quality. Access to the international collections varies by language and the type of material. The Library's reading rooms are the primary gateways to these resources. The Library's reading rooms offer in-depth reference assistance, provide substantive briefings on a wide range of subjects relating to the countries, languages and cultures represented within their collections, produce guides to specific Library's resources, and cooperate in developing and preserving the Library's unparalleled collections.

The Library provides access to its foreign-language materials through a variety of cataloging and reference tools in the following reading rooms:

In addition, the Library's general and special collections include considerable non-English materials specific to certain fields, including those of the Law Library, the American Folklife Center, and the Geography and Map, Manuscript, Moving Image and Recorded Sound, Music, Prints and Photographs, and Rare Book and Special Collections Divisions.

For many areas of the world, such as China, Russia, and Latin America, its collections are the finest and most comprehensive research collections outside the country of origin. For several regions in the world, where preserving materials takes a back seat to more immediate human needs, the collections are superior to what is available locally. Over half of the book and serial collections are in languages other than English. More than 460 languages and several scripts are represented.

Prior to travel, researchers planning international field study can use the resources of the Library to obtain current information about their destination that will help to establish a more focused plan of action so that they get the most value from the time spent abroad. In addition, for many areas of the world, the Library's collections are more accessible or better preserved than they are in the country of origin.