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The General Collections


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Reference Collections
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Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress, [between 1930 and 1950]. General Collections. LC-USZ62-10040 (b&w film copy neg).

bibliographic record

Each of the reading rooms from which you can request materials from the General Collections has its own reference collection. These contain works such as bibliographies, encyclopedias, biographical sources, dictionaries, and handbooks that may

  • lead to other materials in the stacks
  • give background information
  • answer quick reference questions

The seventy-thousand-volume Main Reading Room reference collection contains numerous works to assist researchers of American women's history, and other reading rooms also hold volumes related to this subject. For women scientists, visit the Science Reference Section; for women-owned businesses, consult titles in the Business Reference Section; or for ship passenger lists go to the Local History and Genealogy Reading Room. Often duplicate copies of reference works held by specialized reading rooms—for example, some books on women composers, photographers, or lawyers—are also shelved in the Main Reading Room. An advantage to a reference collection is that you can go to the shelf in the reading room and retrieve works from it yourself.

To determine whether a title is in a reference collection, examine the complete record in the online catalog. Abbreviations such as MRR Alc (Main Reading Room alcove), MicRR (Microform Reading Room), or SciRR (Science Reading Room), which indicate reference assignments, are explained in the list of abbreviations.

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