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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, especially anthropology, criminology, education, political science, psychology, sociology, and women's studies. (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 such as business, music, law, and science and technology.

The MRR collection contains over 16,000 titles in about 56,000 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 Decks 7, 46, and 16 adjacent to the reading room; and in the Reference Assistance Room (MRR Ref Desk) as you enter the reading room. Subject classes A-P are shelved in the reading room; classes Q-Z are shelved on Deck 7.

The titles assigned to the MRR reference collection are designated Reference – Main Reading Room in the online public access catalog. All reference copies appear last--at the bottom of the list of copies in the OPAC. To find out what is available on the open shelves of the Main Reading Room for a particular subject or classification number, do a keyword search including MRR (e.g., MRR adult education, MRR Biog Australia, MRR JK1012, MRR Ref Desk Z733.U6). Reference books are instantly available; they do not have to be ordered from the stacks.

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MRR Reference Desk Collection

This ready-reference collection of approximately 800 titles is located in the Reference Assistance Room (RAR) at the entrance to the reading room (LJ 100).   Here reference librarians are on duty during the hours the Main Reading Room is open. The Reference Desk titles are the volumes most frequently consulted by researchers and librarians. The titles include almanacs, dictionaries, encyclopedias, indexes, statistical sources, directories, guides to colleges and scholarships, thesauri, poetry indexes, guides to government publications, and directories of periodicals.

The reference desk collection for Local History and Genealogy Reference Services is also located in the Reference Assistance Room on the right side as you enter the room.

The microform guides which have Library of Congress call numbers are also located in the RAR on the right.

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Biography Alcove

For biographical information readers will find almost 1200 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. Many other biographical works can be found in the closed stacks and in the Microform Reading Room collections. Consult a reference librarian for help identifying the many online biographical databases.

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Congressional Hearings Collection

The Main Reading Room reference collection contains approximately 5,700 volumes of bound Congressional hearings beginning on the curved shelves in the center of the room with the 78th Congress (1943) and continuing on Deck 16 with hearings from the 81st to the 96th Congresses (1950-1980). Most print copies of Congressional hearings are in the Law Library collections. Most Congressional hearings are also available full-text online. Please consult a reference librarian for assistance.

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Telephone, City, and Criss-Cross Directories

Current U.S. telephone, city, and criss-cross directories and some current foreign telephone directories are located on Deck 46 adjacent to the Main Reading Room.

Earlier editions of these directories do not have call numbers but can be requested using a paper call slip. Include the city and state for U.S. directories plus the type of directory being requested (e.g., city directory, telephone directory, criss-cross directory) and the dates wanted. Some information on which directories the Library has can be found by consulting the directory listings on the Local History and Genealogy Reference Services Bibliography and Guides web page.

Foreign city directories are cataloged and have call numbers. A few foreign city directories with call numbers are shelved with the uncataloged foreign directories on Deck 46. Telephone directories in non-Roman alphabets should be requested in the appropriate area studies reading room.

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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 and in the Microform and Electronic Resources Center. 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 Researcher and Reference Services 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:

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Quotation Book Collection

Over 240 volumes of quotations are shelved in call number order in the Reference Assistance Room in the Main Reading Room. These include works on specific subjects (such as politics, women, religion), as well as general collections of quotations. Titles devoted entirely to quotations by a single author are not shelved here but are shelved by call number in the MRR 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 and concordances. These can be identified using the computer and card catalogs; consult a reference librarian for further assistance. In addition there are many online quotation databases.

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  February 26, 2018
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