USA collections

Man in hat

From contemporary collections of materials from the United States of America to early Colonial publications, our resources will be able to support your research on all aspects of American Studies

About the collection

Our collection includes books about the United States, from the earliest colonial period to the present day. It is one of the world’s largest collections of US books, magazines, musical scores, maps, journals and pamphlets. These collections include manuscripts, notably from the colonial period, as well as more recent sound recordings and extensive digital resources.

We continue to purchase materials from the USA but, as a result of legal deposit, we also receive substantial amounts of US material that is distributed in the United Kingdom. Our work is supported by the Eccles Centre for American Studies, which exists to promote the collections and to support American Studies in the UK.

What is available online?

Registered readers are able to access a growing range of digital resources, including substantial portions of the Archive of Americana, which includes pre-1800 printing, newspaper collections and the vast Congressional Serial Set.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

Most post-1850 USA printed materials can be ordered to any Reading Room, usually within 70 minutes, although much of our more recent material is held at our Boston Spa site in Yorkshire and may take up to two days to arrive.

Pre-1850 materials can be consulted in the Rare Books and Music Reading Room or the Asian and African Studies Reading Room, and maps and manuscripts are available in their own respective Reading Rooms. Open Access books and guides in these rooms also support study, and include bibliographies, catalogues of US libraries and guides to manuscript and archival holdings.

A large number of digital resources are also available through the Reading Room PCs. Staff are available to offer bibliographic and other basic research assistance.

How to guides

How to get a Reader Pass if you are under 18

How to apply for an under 18 Reader Pass

Get a Reader Pass

A guide to how to obtain a British Library Reader Pass to use our Reading Rooms