About the Serial and Government Publications Division
In January 1830, the Librarian of Congress, John Silva Meehan, placed recent issues of periodicals the Library received on a special table for the convenience of readers, and in 1867 a small periodicals reading room was established for members of Congress. Also in 1867, the Library Committee increased the Library’s annual newspaper appropriation, observing that: “The wants of Congress for all leading journals, magazines and reviews covering the departments of law, commerce, finance, and literature require the Librarian to subscribe annually for an increased number.” What is now the Serial and Government Publications Division was established in 1897 to administer acquisitions, bibliographic control, reference services, and preservation activities for newspapers, periodicals, and government publications. On January 22, 1900, the Library recognized the importance of newspapers and periodicals to scholars when it formally established a separate newspaper and current periodical reading room. The Library was a pioneer in the later half of the 20th Century in the use of micrographic technology to preserve newsprint serial publications on microfilm and is recognized today as an international leader in the digitization of newspapers..
The Newspaper and Current Periodical Room
is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Monday through Thursday
(stack service until 7:30). The room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
on Friday and Saturday, (stack service until 4:00). It is
closed on Sundays and all federal holidays. Located in Room
LM-133 of the Madison Building, the reading room is staffed
by reference librarians who provide reference service and
in the use of automated reference tools, and by technicians who
Inquiries should be addressed to the Library of Congress, Serial
& Government Publications Division, Washington, DC 20540-5590.
The Library of Congress maintains one of the largest and most
comprehensive newspaper collections in the world, comprised not
only of the major
titles published in all 50 states and territories of the United
States, but also of titles from most independent countries and
dependent states that have existed during the past three centuries.
The general newspaper collection in the custody of Serial and
Publications Division is comprised of over 1,000,000 current
loose issues, over 33,300 bound volumes, and 500,000 microfilm
reels. Numerous newspapers are available in full-text on
Reading Room computers.
S&GP maintains a collection of hundreds of original special commemorative
and anniversary newspaper editions reporting historical events.
Also available are specialized microfilm runs such as American Colonial
Press, Early English Newspapers (1603-1818), underground newspapers,
early African-American newspapers, German and Japanese prisoner
of war camp newspapers, and the Russian Revolution Newspaper collection.
Consisting of approximately 70,000 current foreign and domestic,
unbound serial titles, the Library's collection is accessible to
readers through the Division's Newspaper and Current Periodical
Room. Once bound (generally within 18 months) or microfilmed, periodicals
are served along with other items from the general collections through
the Main, Business, Science, Local History & Genealogy, European,
Hispanic, or Microform reading
The Division collects and serves current U.S. federal, state, municipal,
and foreign and international serial documents in Western European
languages. The Division keeps a selective depository
set of U.S. government publications in multiple formats from 1993-.
Maintained as a separate collection, it includes monographs and
that have never been added to the Library's general collection.
version of the GPO Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications
is also available. United Nations documents dating from 1945 provide
valuable information to researchers. Among the Section's auxiliary
collections are unbound, distributed
CIA publications; and an archival set of Federal Advisory Committee
(FAC) documents since 1972.
In its Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room, the Division
makes available to readers numerous fulltext publications on its computers. Generally these provide a broad
range of statistical information, or are indexes, abstracts and
indexes to newspaper
and periodical literature, or provide full-text retrieval of newspapers
or periodical literature.
To enhance access to its collections and to provide research guidance
the Division has made a number of its finding aids available to
the public through the Internet on the Newspaper
and Current Periodical Reading Room Home Page. Online
catalog records for Library of Congress serial holdings are
also available on Internet.
The Serial and Government Publications Division provides specialized
reference and information services, orientation, and research
on newspapers, periodicals, and government publications. Services
are available to inquirers by internet,
telephone, telefacsimile, correspondence,
and in person.
The Serial and Government Publications Division acquires current
and non-current newspapers (other than Slavic and Oriental languages);
current periodicals; monographs and serials issued by governmental
units and some intergovernmental and international organizations;
and publications relating to the history and bibliography of newspapers,
serials, and government publications.
The Division develops and maintains appropriate web pages, catalogs,
bibliographies, union lists, indexes, and other finding aids and
material in its area of responsibility.
S&GP also prepares for binding or microfilming all government publications,
newspapers, and serials in its custody, and manages a long-range
newspaper preservation program in cooperation with the Preservation
Office and the Collections Policy Office.