Skip to Main Content

South Asian Collection: Asian Collections at the Library of Congress

The Library’s South Asian collection comprises thousands of titles in over 100 languages. This guide provides an overview of these materials, search strategies, and how to access digital collections, e-resources, and web archives.


Image of map of India and nearby countries from 1917 in relief with contours and gradient tints in green and orange to show geographic features.
Survey of India. India and Adjacent Countries. 1917. Library of Congress Geography & Map Division.

This guide focuses on the South Asian collection, which is accessible in the Asian Reading Room of the Library of Congress. The South Asian collection contains numerous books, newspapers, periodicals, manuscripts, rare books, digital resources, and other diverse materials in Bengali, Hindi, Tamil, Urdu, and approximately 100 additional South Asian languages and dialects from seven countries in the region: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The acquisition and cataloging of these materials largely takes place in the Library’s overseas offices in New Delhi, India and Islamabad, Pakistan.

In addition, this guide gives a preview of other materials pertaining to South Asia in the Library's over 20 reading rooms and research centers that provide space and guidance for users to interact with items based on subject (e.g., South Asian legal materials in the Law Library) or format (e.g., South Asian maps in the Geography & Map Reading Room). See the Materials in Other Reading Rooms page for more information.

For any questions or assistance with access to South Asian materials at the Library of Congress, please contact reference staff through Ask a Librarian.

Additional Resources

In addition to this guide, the following resources provide more information about South Asian materials at the Library of Congress:

See also the video recording of the November 2019 webinar, "Introduction to the South Asian Collection," for detailed information on South Asian books, newspapers, rare books and manuscripts, databases, and much more at the Library of Congress.

About the Asian Division

The Asian Reading Room provides public access to more than 4 million items in approximately 200 languages and dialects from across Asia, including Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Thai, Tibetan, Urdu, Vietnamese, and many others. In the reading room, researchers can use the Asian Division’s collections of printed materials, microform, and databases and confer with reference librarians to answer research questions about the countries of East, South, and Southeast Asia.