Skip to Main Content

Directory of U.S. Newspapers in American Libraries: A Guide for Researchers

Frequently Asked Questions

The Directory of U.S. Newspapers in American Libraries provides information about newspapers published in the U.S. in all formats from 1690 to the present, including many newspapers that are not in the collections of the Library of Congress. Below are frequently asked questions about the Directory.

If you have questions not present on this list, please visit to contact staff in the Serial & Government Publications Division, who provide assistance with our extensive newspaper collections, current periodicals, comic books, and government publications. They will respond to your question within 5 business days.

To create the Directory, the Library of Congress periodically harvests CONSER-authenticated U.S. newspaper bibliographic records from the WorldCat service using the Open WorldCat API (Application Programming Interface) and, where possible, matches them up with USNP-created library holdings information also held separately by OCLC.

Criteria for Bibliographic Records:

  • Title cataloged as a newspaper (MARC 008)
  • Title published in the United States or US territory (MARC 008)
  • Title cataloged under CONSER authority (MARC 042)

Criteria for Holdings Records:

  • Holdings records must have at least one MARC 866, 867, or 868 field with a second indicator value = 7 and subfield/$2 = usnp

See OCLC documentation External for USNP holdings example.

The Library of Congress harvests CONSER-authenticated U.S. newspaper title records from the WorldCat service using the Open WorldCat API (Application Programming Interface) approximately every six months or as needed to meet program requirements. USNP-created library holdings information is updated approximately every two years.

Newspaper title information included in Directory is downloaded at regular intervals from the CONSER (Cooperative Online Serials Cataloging) database, made available through OCLC WorldCat. In order to update or edit these records in the Directory, please contact a CONSER member ( with library holdings of that title to request cataloging improvements to the original CONSER/WorldCat records.

For various reasons, not all newspaper holdings information is currently available in OCLC WorldCat, including those of the Library of Congress. As such, not all holdings information will be included under the “Libraries that Have It” link. You can also check with your local librarian regarding other online resources that may list holdings, such as university or state library catalogs. For newspaper titles that are held at the Library of Congress, follow the link displayed under “LCCN Permalink” to visit the Library of Congress Online Catalog record for that title.

Some titles in the Directory have been cataloged with multiple geographic places (MARC 752). This usually means that during its publishing history, a newspaper served multiple communities, sometimes in more than one country. Because the fields in the database are programmatically drawn from the MARC records, a few non-U.S. values will be displayed. Titles associated with those non-U.S. values at some point also served communities in the U.S.

When a newspaper is designated as “Online Resource” in the Directory it typically means one or both of the following: (1) A cataloger has added a web-based link to the bibliographic record in OCLC (via the MARC 856 field). This URL can link to any electronic version of the resource and may or may not be accessible from your location (i.e., some links are only accessible at subscribing institutions). (2) A holding record attached to the bibliographic (newspaper title) record has been assigned a format type of "Online Resource."

Newspaper catalog records harvested from OCLC WorldCat for inclusion in the Directory may contain open-ended date values for newspapers continuing to publish or with unknown end dates. Additionally, the Date facets are programmed to automatically group content published within a given century into five year increments. When an end date is represented in a catalog record as “20XX”, the system currently assigns it to all five year increments between 2000 and 2100. The rationale is that theoretically, a title with this end date (20xx) could belong to any of the five year increments. Work continues on improving this feature for users.

While the Library of Congress maintains one of the largest newspaper collections in the world, U.S. newspaper holdings are distributed nationwide across libraries and repositories in all 50 states and territories. The LC Catalog only contains records for items held in the Library of Congress physical or digital collections.

No. While the Directory is a major source of newspaper holdings information, it is limited to institutions participating in the OCLC WorldCat database.

Users can limit searches for Newspapers in the Directory by a variety of search options. For some users, knowing the origin of these options will help in precise searching. These options rely on specific MARC fields in the title and local holdings data records, as follows:

Name MARC Field
State 752 $b
County 752 $c
City 752 $d
Begin Year 008
End Year 008
Frequency 008
Language 008, 041
Ethnicity Press 650
Labor Press 650
LCCN 010
Material Type 852

Previously known as the United States Newspaper Directory and included in the Chronicling America: Historic American Newspaper online collection, the Directory of U.S. Newspapers in American Libraries (the “Directory”) is a collection of library catalog records primarily created by state institutions during the United States Newspaper Program (USNP), 1982-2011 (see This program was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and supported by the Library of Congress to sponsor state-level projects to locate, describe (catalog), and selectively preserve (via treatment and microfilm) newspapers in every state, published from 1689 to the present. Under this program, each institution created machine-readable cataloging (MARC) via the Cooperative ONline SERials Program (CONSER) for its state collections, contributing approx. 140,000 bibliographic descriptions and 600,000 library holdings records to the Newspaper Union List, hosted by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC). These data were eventually combined with other databases into the global WorldCat cooperative database. The Library of Congress acquired and converted the bibliographic and holdings records to MARCXML format for use in the Directory as an open-access resource. While the data mirrors what is also available in WorldCat, the Directory provides an open and free alternate interface to this information, tailored to searching newspaper records and made available as its own dataset.