Guide to the Research Collections



The Periodicals Section of the General Research and Humanities Division collects and houses an extensive number of current periodical titles, most of these in the Roman alphabet. At present there are approximately 10,000 titles. The section also maintains a collection of press directories and current issues of the standard periodical indexes.

The section services only current issues of the periodicals. After binding or filming, the majority of periodicals are located in the general collections. Not all current periodical issues are held in the Periodicals Section; those of special subject interest or in certain foreign languages are held in the subject divisions of the library as follows: In the Central Building are found periodicals of the American History Division, the Economic and Public Affairs Division, the Jewish Division, the Local History and Genealogy Division, the Oriental Division, the Science and Technology Research Center, and the Slavonic Division. In the Performing Arts Research Center are periodicals of the Dance Collection, the Music Division, and the Theatre Collection (including motion pictures, the circus, and allied arts). In the Schomburg Center are periodicals relating to black culture; those in the Patents Collection are in the Annex.

The collecting policy of the Periodicals Section is universal and parallels the strong subject areas of the library's monographic holdings. There is comprehensive coverage in such fields as art, architecture, geography, history, philosophy, poetry, psychology, and belles-letters, with an attempt to provide research material ranging from learned society and museum publications to illustrated magazines. The life, habits, and thinking of the various national and ethnic groups are thoroughly documented. There are strong holdings of pacifist, photography, travel, and trade union publications, as well as titles in such diverse disciplines as economics, agriculture, the graphic arts, and forestry. The collecting policy is selective in such fields as political opinion and fashion.

The library has always maintained strong holdings in publications from Africa, Great Britain and the Commonwealth Nations, France, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian countries. This is true to a lesser degree for other countries, including those of Eastern Europe. Holdings of United States periodicals are more inclusive, ranging from the organs of various pressure groups and underground publications to prison publications. The collection of house organs is good. Trade and professional publications are strongly represented in such fields as advertising, insurance, fire prevention, the garment and food industries, tobacco, and the book trade.


The dictionary catalog of the Periodicals Section is an arrangement by title and subject of the holdings of all current periodicals in the collections of the Research Libraries, not just those available through the Periodicals Section. If a periodical ceases publication, or if it is no longer currently received by the library, the cards for it are removed from this catalog.

A second file in the section is the Geographic Catalog. The periodicals currently received in the Research Libraries are arranged alphabetically by title under the name of the country of origin. There are no subject entries.

The library's Central Serial Record, administered by the Preparation Services, is discussed on page 11.