The Wonderful Free Resources of the Library of Congress

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The Library of Congress (LOC) is the United States’ most well known and extensive library, as well as the research library of the United States Congress. As such, it’s a great resource to find physical copies of obscure and hard to find books (and other materials). You aren’t allowed to check out books from the LOC, but the public is allowed to use the collections after obtaining a user card.

Today we’ll profile a few of the available resources that searchers can take advantage of to leverage this vast store of knowledge. We’ll talk about finding scientific guides and technological resources for your prior art search, and going beyond the Library of Congress to allow you to search hundreds of libraries across the world simultaneously!


The jumping-off point for the LOC’s online tools is the LOC Research and Reference Services page. There are many many tools to explore, but let’s focus on three of them today:

Science Reference Services
Science Reference Services is a resource sub-portal that serves to:

…provide reference and bibliographic services and to develop the collections in all areas of science and technology (with the exception of clinical medicine and technical agriculture, which are subject specialties of the National Library of Medicine and the National Agricultural Library respectively) and business, management and economics.

Science Reference Services

The Science References Services page is packed with links and information.

Users can search through the Science References Services page (or any LOC page), browse by subject, or subscribe to a number of RSS feeds.

One particularly helpful section within Science Reference Services is called Science Tracer Bullets Online.

This is a great resource to familiarize yourself with topics that range from electric vehicles to food history to technology transfer and many others.

Science Tracer Bullets Online

Tracer Bullets by the LOC are great for quickly understanding a given topic.

The best thing about the Tracer Bullet resource is that it quickly and concisely gets you on the path to branching your search to influential and key resources, such as specific books, specialized titles, technical reports and more (often with links directly to the source material!). If nothing else, check out the Tracer Bullets series today to ignite your intellectual curiosity.

Electronic Resources Online Catalog
The Electronic Resources Online Catalog is another prodigious resource listing. Browsing by topic, let’s check out the Law>>General Resources section:

Law Resources

There are 114 law-related sources listed.

Although most of the resources are available on-site at the LOC, there are a number of resources that can be accessed online for free–like the Australasian Legal Information Institute.

Z39.50 Gateway
Contrary to what you might be thinking, the Library of Congress Z39.50 Gateway is not some kind of portal to an alien dimension (sorry).

The Library of Congress Z39.50 Gateway is a free online gateway for searching of Library of Congress (LOC) online catalogs and other online catalogs that implement Z39.50, which is a search protocol on which the catalog is built.

What’s this mean for you? You can search hundreds of libraries worldwide simultaneously. Isn’t that neat?

A more user-friendly catalog search for the LOC exists at the Library of Congress Online Catalogs page.

It’s also worth noting that the LOC is searchable via OCLC Libraries WorldCat. The WorldCat search system coverage includes over 1.5 billion searchable items!

Do you use the many resources of the Library of Congress? Let us know what you think of them in the comments section below!

Patent Information from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Intellogist Team member Chris Jagalla. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.

One Response

  1. […] results that takes hours to sift through.  The Library of Congress (LOC) website allows users to specifically search the library catalogs and digital holding of the LOC, but what if the user wants to search for non-US materials not included in LOC holdings?  Is there […]

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