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Serial and Government Publications Division




Using the Periodical Collection
arrow graphicPeriodical Directories and Union Lists
Histories of periodicals
Statistics: Market Research of Periodicals





Periodical Directories and Union Lists

A key to locating needed periodicals in the Library of Congress collections is to have accurate titles and places of publication for them. Directories identify title changes, provide publishing information that can distinguish otherwise similar titles, and, more important for researchers, can provide subject access to journal titles that may not be indexed in bibliographies and indexes.

Directories specific to electronic journals are available through the World Wide Web. The N&CPR Web page includes listings of electronic journals under Other Internet Resources—Periodicals.

Besides locating other libraries and assisting in verifying holdings information, many union lists provide publication history and editorial information to help you verify citations and trace title changes. The most comprehensive and indispensable historical title is Union List of Serials in Libraries of the United States and Canada, 3rd ed. (New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1965; Z6945.U45 1965 N&CPR). First coordinated by the American Library Association in 1913, this five-volume set lists more than 150,000 serials from 1,000 libraries (including the Library of Congress); among them are annual publications, monographic series, children's magazines, and some pulp magazines. It excludes most newspapers, government publications, almanacs, law reports, house organs, and college student publications. Its value to researchers lies in its comprehensive gathering of serial titles and comparative information about collections held across various libraries. It is not intended to provide subject access to serials and lacks any kind of thematic organization of material.

Directories commonly used by division specialists include the following, which are available in most libraries:

  • Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory. New York: R.R. Bowker, 1932-present. Z6941.U5 N&CPR; also on CD-ROM and the Web.
    Ulrich's is published annually and provides subject access to periodical information. A worldwide, comprehensive directory, Ulrich's is also useful for periodicals published in the United States, one of the largest publishing countries in the world. It includes descriptive information other directories lack, for instance, refereed titles and indexing sources. “Women's Health,” “Women's Interests,” and “Women's Studies” are terms useful for locating current women's history and policy titles.
  • The Serials Directory. Birmingham, Ala.: EBSCO Publishing, 1986-present. Z6941.S464 N&CPR, CD-ROM only 2000-.
    A competitor of Ulrich's, this international directory is published by a subscription agent for libraries. Useful features for journal titles include a content description, indexing and abstracting sources, and whether or not the journal produces its own index.
  • Standard Periodical Directory. New York: Oxbridge Communications, Inc., 1964/65-present. Z6951.S78 N&CPR.
    Although initially intended as a directory of U.S. and Canadian journals, Standard includes some international titles as well. Like Ulrich's, it has a section covering “Women's” periodicals.
Published union lists are also available for subjects or special interest areas and, to a lesser extent, for geographic regions of the United States. Generally, an authorized Library of Congress subject heading followed by the subheading “Periodicals—Bibliography—Union Lists” is used to find union lists on specific topics:
by subject: Feminism—Periodicals—Bibliography—Union lists
by ethnic group: African Americans—Periodicals—Bibliography—Union lists
Serial publications—Bibliography—Union lists

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