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British Medievalism: A Subject Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Frederick H. Evans, photographer.Kelmscott Manor: from the orchard.1897. Photographic print. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The Rare Book and Special Collections Division receives queries about many aspects of the collections, and we have attempted to answer some of the most relevant frequently asked questions below.

This is not an exhaustive list, so if you have additional queries, please use the Ask-A-Librarian service, and a member of the reference staff in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division will answer your question in a timely manner.

For more information about the topic of British medievalism, please see the Bibliography and Databases and Electronic Resources within this LibGuide. The resources gathered in this guide have been limited mostly to materials written in English; however, patrons wanting research materials written in other languages may benefit from contacting a reference professional in one of the Library of Congress Divisions specializing in international materials.

More about reference services for the International Collections can be found on the Library's website (scroll down to the middle of the page).

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What kinds of materials are housed in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division?

A: The Rare Book and Special Collections Division contains primarily monographs (printed books) from before the year 1800. Certain special collections, however, and certain antiquarian items and genres printed after 1800 have also been added. For patrons interested in topics related to medievalism, this means that collection items of interest will probably also be found in the General Collections, the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room, and the Science, Technology, and Business Division, as well as in other Special Collection Division Reading Rooms such as the Prints and Photographs Division, the Geography and Maps Division, the Manuscript Division. For more information and a list of the various reading rooms, see the Library of Congress' website: Reading Rooms at the Library of Congress.

Q: Can I access collection material remotely?

A: The Rare Book and Special Collections Division has undertaken many digitization projects, but with more than a million items in the collection, many items are only available for consultation in the Reading Room. Digitized materials can be viewed on the Library of Congress website: Digital Collections. The Library of Congress does have a division for Duplication Services. Duplication inquiries for Rare Book and Special Collections Division material do involve a condition assessment, and therefore questions are best directed initially to the staff of the Division through the Ask-A-Librarian service.

Q: My project involves rare legal material. Is that material located in another Reading Room?

A: Yes. The Law Library of Congress has its own Rare Book Division. Appointments for accessing those collections should be made through the Law Library website: Law Library Rare Books Services.

Q: My project involves medieval themes in comic books. Is that material in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division?

A: No. Patrons interested in medievalism in comic books and graphic novels should read this information on The Comic Book Collection before contacting the reference staff in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room . Patrons interested in medieval themes in drawings (artist drawings, not published comics) should contact the staff in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room.

Q: I'm interested in mythology and fairy tales. Is the Rare Book and Special Collections Division a good place to begin my research?

A: Sometimes, but not always. Many times patrons want to begin their research project by consulting primary source material, but in order to locate relevant primary sources, patrons often need to begin by consulting secondary sources. When thinking about researching in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, it's helpful to think about the collection in terms of publishing history. The reference staff in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division are happy to help you narrow a research topic and locate items in our collections that might fit the scope of your project. Contact us through the Ask-A-Librarian service to schedule a reference interview.