Publications from intergovernmental organisations (IGOs)

United Nations Secretariat Building, New York
United Nations Secretariat Building, New York

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:

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.

What is available in other organisations?

Libraries with extensive collections of historic inter-government organisations publications include: