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Overviews of the European Collections

This provides access to collection overview descriptions for the European collections at the Library of Congress. The European countries covered include the Russian-speaking areas of Asia, but exclude Spain, Portugal, and the British Isles.


United States. Central Intelligence Agency. Europe. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

The Library of Congress collections from or pertaining to Europe began with the acquisition of Thomas Jefferson's personal library, which contained representative works of European culture in many subjects. Since Jefferson's day, the Library's European collections have grown in size and quality in order to serve the needs of Congress and of the scholarly community in all disciplines. The Library's European collections are among the finest in the world.

These holdings are especially strong in history, literature, and the social sciences. The French, German, and Russian collections, with more than 5.75 million volumes, are the strongest among the European collections. European materials are found in the general collection, and in the specialized collections, such as those of the Geography and Map Reading Room, the Moving Image Research Center, the Recorded Sound Research Center, the Performing Arts Reading Room, the Law Library, and the Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room, among others.

The collection overviews provide summary descriptions of the Library's holdings from the countries of Europe (excluding Spain, Portugal, and the British Isles) as well as highlights of materials available in special collections reading rooms. The Hispanic Reading Room provides reference assistance for Spain and Portugal while the Main Reading Room provides reference assistance for the United Kingdom.