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Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room (Serial and Government Publications Division)
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About the Serial and Government Publications Division


As early as January 1830, the Librarian of Congress John Silva Meehan, had been instructed to place the latest numbers of periodicals received by the Library on a special table "for the convenience of readers." In 1867 a small, separate periodicals reading room was established for members of Congress. When the Library Committee increased the Library's annual newspaper appropriation that year it observed that "The wants of Congress for all leading journals, magazines & reviews covering the departments of law, commerce, finance, & literature require the Librarian to subscribe annually for an increased number." The importance of newspapers and periodicals to scholars was recognized when the Library established a separate newspaper-periodical room on January 22, 1900. Now the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room of the Serial and Government Publications Division (S&GP), it continues this tradition of providing service for the convenience of readers.

Established in 1897 as the Periodical Division, S&GP administers and performs the acquisition, bibliographic control, reference, and preservation activities crucial to making the Library's valuable collections available to Congress and the nation.

Reading Room

The Newspaper and Current Periodical Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays (stack service until 4:00), and from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, (stack service until 7:30). The Library 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 assistance in the use of automated reference tools, and by technicians who assist readers.

Inquiries should be addressed to the Library of Congress, Serial & Government Publications Division, Washington, DC 20540-5590.

The Collections


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 many dependent states that have existed during the past three centuries. The general newspaper collection in the custody of Serial and Government 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.

Current Periodicals

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 rooms.

Government Publications

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 many titles that have never been added to the Library's general collection. An automated 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.

Electronic Collections

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 guidance 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.

Bibliographic Control

The Division develops and maintains appropriate web pages, catalogs, bibliographies, union lists, indexes, and other finding aids and publications for 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.

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  January 22, 2011
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