Doing Research at the Library of Congress
X. Special Collections
Beyond the Library's general collections--which are essentially the books
and journals that have regular call numbers--thousands of special collections
are available to researchers at the Library of Congress. Most of this
material is not recorded in the online catalog, but is available through other
catalogs, finding aids, or bibliographies located in the many specialized
reading rooms in all three buildings. To get into these resources, it is again
important to first talk to reference librarians. In addition, these resources
are particularly useful:
- Special Collections in the Library of Congress:
A Selective Guide,
by Annette Hale (Washington: Library of Congress, 1980) is an annotated
listing of 269 collections of photographs, field recordings, manuscripts,
maps, films, books, and graphic arts from a wide variety of the
Library's specialized reading rooms.
Guide to Microform Collections in the Humanities and Social Sciences Division is
a listing of hundreds of specialized research collections in microfilm.
Most of the individual items in these special collections--books,
journals, pamphlets, and other materials--are not separately
recorded in the Library’s general online catalog; access is provided
by published bibliographical guides accompanying most of the collections. Some
of these sets include tens of thousands of items. The Guide
to Microform Collections is online at //www.loc.gov/rr/microform/guide/.
Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) is a separate listing of
photographic images, posters, and graphic materials not recorded in
the Library's general online catalog. PPOC often includes
thumbnail reproductions of the items listed. It is available at //www.loc.gov/rr/print/catalog.html.
- An online
listing of finding guides to many (not all) of the Library's
manuscript collections may be consulted at //www.loc.gov/rr/mss/f-aids/mssfa.html.
- The Library maintains a full set of U.S. Government Printing
(GPO) publications for the most recent ten years; within that period
it is a 100-percent Depository Collection, which is accessed in the Newspaper and Current Periodicals Reading Room. (Government documents
from earlier years--a selective collection--are listed in the
Library's regular online and card catalogs.) A complete list of this
material is available through the GPO database in the FirstSearch
system, searchable in any of the Library's public
- A guide to women's studies at
the Library may be consulted at //memory.loc.gov/ammem/awhhtml/.
- A variety of online guides to the Library's special reading rooms and research centers is available at //www.loc.gov/rr/research-centers.html.