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Science Reference Services (Science, Technology, and Business Division)
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Science, Technology & Business DivisionPhoto:  Jefferson mural in the Science and Business Reading Room.

Mission & History

The Science, Technology & Business Division (ST&B) provides reference
and bibliographic services and develops the general collections of the Library
in all areas of science, technology, business, and economics with the exception of clinical medicine and technical agriculture.

In those two fields ST&B maintains some materials, but defers to the two national libraries that are responsible for comprehensive collecting of materials in clinical medicine and technical agriculture: the National Library of Medicine and the National Agricultural Library, respectively. The Division also maintains, services, and develops its own specialized collections of Technical Reports & Standards and international gray literature in the same subject areas mentioned above.

ST&B is relatively new as an organizational unit; formed when the Science and Technology Division and the Business Reference Section (which was originally established as a part of the Library’s Humanities and Social Sciences Division) were merged in 1998 to form today’s Science, Technology & Business Division. However, science and business as subjects have been represented in the Library’s collections almost from the start, beginning with the auspicious purchase of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library in 1815.

Jefferson’s Library contained some 500 volumes in natural philosophy, agriculture, chemistry, zoology, and technical arts, and even a larger number relating to economics and commerce. This seminal core has been embellished and enlarged through purchases, copyright deposit, and the “gift and exchange” program, and today comprises what is now over 40 percent of the Library’s general collections. You can read more about the history of the Science, Technology & Business Division here.

Photo:  readers using the tables in the main part of the Reading Room. Business Reference

Business Reference covers all of the major areas of business including U.S. and international business and industry, small business, real estate, management and labor, finance and investment, insurance, money and banking, commerce, public finance, and economics. It encompasses largely classes HA-HJ (PDF, 45.4 KB) and parts of T (PDF, 97.3 KB) and Z (PDF, 49.7 KB) in the Library’s classification system.

The Library’s collections are particularly strong for their historical
research value in all areas of business and economics. They are useful
for researching business methodologies, business and market conditions, and specific industries at any given point in time, as well as over specified periods of time.

In addition to a vast collection of monographs, there are a number of key titles, U.S. and foreign, complete back to the mid-19th century. Directories of companies, stock price records, public budgets, and other long-standing periodical publications, incorporate a wealth of information on the history of business and of public finance in the U.S. and the rest of the world. Major runs of statistical publications yield extensive national and international demographic and economic data over a long span of time. An extensive reference collection is provided in the Reading Room, as well as access to current interest periodicals and newspapers.

Science Reference

Science Reference covers all areas of science and technology including engineering, mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, medicine, earth sciences, agriculture, military science, naval science, and more.

The vast subject fields encompassed by the terms “science” and “technology” occupy six extensive areas of the Library’s classification system: Q (Science) (PDF, 74.6 KB), R (Medicine) (PDF, 90.0 KB), S (Agriculture) (PDF, 75.2 KB), T (Technology) (PDF, 97.3 KB), U (Military Science) (PDF, 70.8 KB), and V (Naval Science) (PDF, 77.8 KB).

The science collections are particularly strong in long runs of serials and proceedings and contain memoirs, transactions, and periodicals of learned scientific societies, museums, exploring expeditions, and observatories from throughout the world.

The science reference collection of 40,000 volumes includes key science journals, an extensive technical dictionaries collection, specialized catalogs, finding aids and bibliographies, and subscription databases.

Technical Reports & Standards

The division houses the Technical Reports and Standards Collection – more than 5 million uncataloged technical reports and thousands of standards primarily from U.S. issuing organizations. Three million additional technical reports are in the Library’s general collections.

Technical Reports

The Technical Reports Collection includes U.S. government documents created since the 1940s and now issued by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). These reports represent the work of scores of U.S. agencies including the Defense Department (DOD), the Department of Energy (DOE) – with Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) reports dating back to the 1940s, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Publication Board. The collection also contains thousands of historical documents issued during WWII by the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), along with captured German and Japanese materials. The collection is especially strong in the history of aeronautics, incorporating thousands of photographs from the French aeronautical journal “L’Aerophile.” There is also an extensive collection of uncatologed foreign technical reports.


The U.S. Standards Collection contains thousands of standards from hundreds of U.S. standards issuing organizations and selected recent standards from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). External Link Additionally, the collections houses unclassified, historical U.S. military and Federal Specifications.

Photo: Shelves of books, with display of books and magazines  on Einstein in the foreground.

Photo: The dictionary collection.

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   January 25, 2022
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