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Current Periodical Collections at the Library of Congress

How to Find a Periodical

Third issue of Victory Magazine on display at typical book stall in Central Station, Sydney. ca.1943. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Periodicals held in the Library of Congress collections are found in the following formats:

  • Loose print issues
  • Bound volumes
  • Microfilm
  • Digital files

A title could be held at the Library of Congress in one format or multiple formats, depending on the date of publication. Keep in mind that not every periodical has been digitized and the Library of Congress does not hold a copy of every title published. To determine whether the Library has a particular periodical and how to access it, one may consult several sources. Most periodicals held by the Library of Congress can be found in the Library of Congress Online Catalog (physical materials) and the E-Resources Catalog (digital). Below is information on how to search those catalogs and how to identify what reading room the periodical can be accessed. Be aware that most e-resources are limited to on-site access only. If you are unable to find what you need, please feel free to ask us, as reference staff also use printed resources and catalogs that are not found online.

Searching the Catalog

Periodicals are listed in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. To locate a periodical, search under the title (such as Sports Illustrated) or under the name of the issuing agency (for example, American Mathematical Society). If you do not find the periodicals you are seeking, be sure to ask a reference librarian for assistance.

If you have a citation and want to check our physical holdings:

  1. Using Browse, enter the periodical title in the "TITLES beginning with (omit initial article)" field. Omit any initial article, unless it is part of the periodical's title, e.g., New Yorker.
  2. Click "+Add Limits," select "Periodical or Newspaper" under "Type of Material," then click "Search."
  3. Periodicals are cataloged in such a way with the main subject listed first, followed by "Periodicals."
    For instance, if you want to find periodicals related to fashion, try using the following subject headings:
    Beauty culture--Periodicals.
    Beauty, Personal--Periodicals.

  4. Depending on the number of related titles, there may be multiple results. Be sure to check that the date you need is within the listed publication's date range before selecting a record.
  5. Once you select the record (you may need to check several), scroll toward the bottom under "Item Availability" and check "Latest Receipts." This lists the dates of the issues we have in original print format that are available to request via a paper call slip in the NCPRR. Issues listed under "Older Receipts" are available to request via the online catalog.

Need more help searching the catalog? Check out Search/Browse Help.

Deciphering Catalog Call Numbers

Stumped about a term or number in the catalog? Here's what you might find in a periodical record:

Older Receipts The editions or dates listed beside are available by request via the Automated Call System and material will be delivered in the Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms.
Latest Receipts These are the dates available in the NCPRR.
Microfiche or Microfilm

Material is available by request in the Microform & Electronic Resources Center- Jefferson Building, Room LJ139.

Current Issues Only

We keep print issues until they are reformatted (microfilmed or digitized). Certain dates are not available if being reformatted. Also known as "CIO."


The acronym stands for "with minimal level cataloging." Bound volumes of original print issues are located in off-site storage. Request via the automated request system by clicking on the "request item" button in the catalog. 

UNC Unclassified call number; we likely do not have this title or it may be cataloged differently and appear in a different record.

Searching the E-Resources Catalog

If you have a citation and want to check for digital availability:

  1. Using the "All Resources" tab in the E-Resources Catalog, conduct a basic search and select "Title Begins With (omit initial article)" from the drop-down menu. Then, enter the periodical title and "search."
  2. Depending on the number of related titles and entries, there may be multiple results. Any dates listed will be the publication's start date, not necessarily what is available.
  3. Once you select the record (you may need to check several records and entries), bibliographic information will be available on the left while digital access information is on the right.
  4. There may be multiple databases that include the periodical. Be sure to select the database title that has the date you need and also check "Authorized Users" to learn if the database is available as "free public access" or "on-site" only. Again, be aware that most databases are limited to on-site access only.
  5. Select the database by clicking on the database title.

Periodical records can certainly be confusing. Please contact the reference staff in the NCPRR to confirm our holdings.