Our collections begin with publications of the League of Nations and the International Labour Organization founded after World War I and include materials from the United Nations and other IGOs established after World War II.
About the collection
The British Library is a depository library for the United Nations and its agencies such as UNESCO and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and other intergovernmental organisations founded at the end of World War II, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank. This means we have a copy of all of their print publications.
We have very extensive collections of League of Nations, International Labour Organization (ILO) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) documentation.
British Library Document Supply Services also have significant collections of the publications of the principal intergovernmental organisations: United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization, OECD, ILO, World Health Organization, and International Atomic Energy Agency.
What is available online?
Intergovernmental organisations are now transitioning from print to electronic publication. Much material is now available free of charge on the Web:
- International Labour Organization – full text of books, working papers and meeting documents as well as a range of statistical databases
- UNESCO – contains thousands of UNESCO documents in full text published since 1945 as well as metadata from the collections of the UNESCO Library and documentation centres in field offices and institutes
- United Nations Official Documents System - provides access to the full text of UN parliamentary documentation and official records from 1992 and resolutions from 1946 to the present
- United Nations Site Index - provides links to websites of UN organisations, offices, programmes, specialised agencies, inter-agency bodies and autonomous organisations
- United Nations Treaty Collection
- World Bank Open Knowledge Repository – thousands of publications available free
- World Health Organisation – search and browse the WHO’s institutional repository
- World Trade Organization Documents Online – the database contains WTO documents in the three official languages from 1995 onwards.
What is available in our Reading Rooms?
Records for much of the output of intergovernmental organisations can be found using Explore the British Library. Given the complexity of this material, please ask staff at the Social Sciences Reference Enquiry Desk for help with finding out if we have the documents you need.
As IGOs run down their print publishing programmes, they are increasing creating large full text databases for their documents, reports and statistical data. On-site users have access to a range of subscribed electronic resources:
- International Monetary Fund (IMF) e-Library
- OECD iLibrary
- World Bank eLibrary
United Nations material
One of the most significant of the IGO collections is the United Nations depository set. We hold material dating from the foundation of the UN in 1947 to the present day in print and in microform. Each UN document carries a series code. All documents in the microform sets are filed by this code, as are more recent paper versions.
Our guide to United Nations publications (PDF format) describes the material published by the United Nations and how to find it in the British Library's collections.
In order to identify documents and their series codes, you will need to use the electronic Access UN index which is available to on-site users.