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Prints & Photographs Online Catalog from the Library of Congress

The Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) contains catalog records and digital images representing a rich cross-section of still pictures held by the Prints & Photographs Division and, in some cases, other units of the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress offers broad public access to these materials as a contribution to education and scholarship.

The collections of the Prints & Photographs Division include photographs, fine and popular prints and drawings, posters, and architectural and engineering drawings. While international in scope, the collections are particularly rich in materials produced in, or documenting the history of, the United States and the lives, interests and achievements of the American people.

  • The catalog provides access through group or item records to about 95% of the Division's holdings.
  • Many of the records are accompanied by one or more digital images. In some collections, only thumbnail images display to those searching outside the Library of Congress because of potential rights considerations.
  • The primary historical documents described and displayed in this catalog may contain materials offensive to some readers. The Library does not endorse views expressed in the collections but presents the collections as an aid to scholarly research.

Although the catalog is added to on a regular basis, it is not an exhaustive listing of the holdings of the Prints & Photographs Division, which consist of more than 14 million items. Paper finding aids, card catalogs, and browsing files of pictures available on site supplement descriptions in PPOC.

The catalog includes:

  • Various types of records and data, depending upon the nature of the materials and the level of description available. Among the types of records you may see in the catalog are:
    • Item Record--Describes an individual item, sometimes accompanied by a digital image. In some cases, every item in a collection has been described with an item record. In other cases, selected item records have been created, often for images requested for reproduction or copied as a preservation measure. Item records can vary in the amount of information supplied; some include unconfirmed information and non-standard subject headings.
    • Group Record--Describes a group of images that are related, usually by source or subject matter. Various kinds of call number designations may be used to designate a group of images: e.g., LOT, LOOK - Job, ADE - UNIT, HAER. Most groups of images are not available in digital form and must be viewed on site by coming to the Prints & Photographs Reading Room and submitting a call slip. Some have additional finding aids that provide further description of images in the group.
    • Guide Record--Describes an entire collection, outlining its scope, provenance, and the finding tools that provide access to images (digitized or non-digitized) in the collection.
    • About the Collection --Collections generally have some contextual information which may include things such as its background and scope, bibliographies, lists of related resources, and technical notes.
  • More than 1.2 million digitized images:
    • In some cases only "thumbnail" images ("gif" images) will display to those searching outside the Library of Congress because of potential rights considerations, while on-site searchers have access to larger "jpeg" and "tiff" images, as well.

    • In some collections, only a portion of the images have so far been digitized.

The Prints & Photographs Online Catalog overlaps with some other Library of Congress search systems. For example:

  • Some of the records in PPOC are also found in the Library of Congress Online Catalog, but PPOC includes additional records, direct display of digital images, and links to information about rights, obtaining copies, and background information about the collections represented in the catalog.

  • PPOC includes all the Prints & Photographs Division items represented in American Memory as well as additional materials not included in American Memory. Conversely, picture collections from other archives or libraries included in American Memory are not included in PPOC (e.g., Photographs from The Chicago Daily News, 1902-1933).


Rights assessment is your responsibility.

As a publicly supported institution the Library generally does not own rights to material in its collections. Therefore, it does not charge permission fees for use of such material and cannot give or deny permission to publish or otherwise distribute material in its collections. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the Library's collections.

The nature of historical archival collections means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine. Whenever possible, the Library provides information about copyright owners and other restrictions in the catalog records or other texts that accompany collections. The Library provides such information as a service to aid patrons in determining the appropriate use of an item, but that determination ultimately rests with the patron. The Library of Congress is eager to hear from any copyright owners who are not properly identified so that appropriate information may be provided in the future.

For further information, see the Prints & Photographs Division "Rights and Restrictions Information" page.




September 13, 2010


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