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Collection Overview

Main content

What is the Center for Research Libraries?

The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) is an international consortium of more than 250 college, university, and independent research libraries that acquires and preserves important but relatively unique materials in support of teaching and research in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. CRL's collection consists of over 5,000,000 volumes. CRL actively collects primary source information from within and outside the United States with collection strengths from five major regions in the world: Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Latin America. Some examples:  African-American Press Collection, South African Political Ephemera (1964-1990), ACLU Archives (1912-1950), British Trials (1660-1900), Italian Books before 1601.

Collection strengths

In addition to CRL's U.S. Collections, particular strengths are in their regional collections from Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Latin America. CRL collects an array of material that can be found in many formats and media, including, large microfilm sets of all kinds, newspapers (U.S. and foreign), dissertations (foreign), journals (science, technology, trade, industrial), and government documents and publications (U.S. and foreign).

Benefits of membership

Students and faculty can borrow large amounts of material, including serials (journals and newspapers) and microfilm from CRL for 180 days with unlimited renewals. CRL digitizes material whenever possible, and guarantees speedy delivery.

Benefits for faculty

For selected materials not owned by the Center - foreign dissertations, and microfilmed archives and newspapers for which the Center has incomplete holdings   the Demand Purchase Program meets scholars' individual research needs by acquiring selected materials. Faculty may request up to $2,000 in purchases annually by working with a Subject Specialist.

Using the CRL catalog

It is important to remember that the CRL catalog is not complete, though it is being updated constantly. Depending on their interests, users should consult their supplementary guides and collection descriptions, all linked from the main catalog page - i.e., newspaper listings (by country), microfilm collections (by subject), topic guides (overviews by subject).

Requesting CRL materials

Materials can be requested via BorrowDirect. CRL holdings will display within BorrowDirect search results. Requests for CRL materials will be routed through the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) system, allowing for longer loan periods of not only books, but all available CRL content, including microfilm.

Penn Interlibrary Loan offices can request materials from CRL for use at Penn. Since there is no direct link to Interlibrary Loan from the CRL web pages, please complete and submit a Penn library interlibrary loan request form and ILL staff will transmit the request to CRL. Annotations are helpful to indicate the material was discovered at CRL.