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You can use the following templates to source material from the Library of Congress collections.

All these templates share two important parameters that are used to generate the digital IDs.

  • id: This is a combination of the collection identifier with the digital resource number; for instance: det.72395
  • division: This is the identifier of the division as listed in the digital ID; for instance: pnp
    The source templates default to the most common division for that material, respectively pnp, gmd, amed, music, mbrsmi, gdc and rbc.

Please add these templates with parameters whenever possible. Material will automatically be categorized when you use them.

Digital IDsEdit

For tracking the Library of Congress materials, we use their digital ID handles. These handles look like:

  • Library of Congress handle server
  • loc : Library of Congress
  • division : The code of the division, see the divisions section.
  • collection: The collection that the material is a part of.
  • number: The identification number of the material in question.

Digital IDs are generally unique to a specific scan/photograph of an item in the Library of Congress. One item can thus have multiple materials connected to it, with multiple digital IDs. Note that the Library of Congress uses many different numbers that our templates do not accept.


Identifier Alias IDs Name of the division
pnp Prints and Photographs division
afc American Folklife Center
amed African & Middle Eastern division
gmd Geography & Map Division
music Music Division
mbrsrs mbrsmi Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division
mss Manuscript Division
ndlpcoop award, award97 National Digital Library Program
wdl World Digital Library Program
rbc Rare Book and Special Collections Division
gdc Serials and Government Publications division


A special exception are the materials from the HABS/HAER/HALS collections. Finding the digital ID for these collections can be difficult. These items are only listed as "grouped items" and do not have individual digital ID handles for the individual scans. If you have the item number, like for instance on this page where it is CA0959, then just add hhh. in front of the item number to form the digital handle for the entire group of items. In personal email with User:TheDJ the LoC has stated that they intend to add digital handles for the individual items in the future.


The Library of Congress does not own copyrights to any of the materials in its collection. This does not mean that all material is copyright free. Much of the material is still under copyright by the original publisher or creator. The library does however often get donations of, or buys materials that are explicitly released into the public domain upon acquiring it. In some cases material is required under an explicit shortened term of copyright protection. Be sure to check the Rights advisory on the description page of an item and then try finding relevant information in the Rights database.

Below are lists of common license templates that are used for LoC material.


These are licenses for specific collections of the Library of Congress. These collections are specifically released into the public domain by their producers, or have expired copyrights.


  • {{PD-old-100}} for works by authors who died more than 100 years ago.
  • {{PD-old-80}} for works by authors who died more than 80 years ago.
  • {{PD-old-75}} for works by authors who died more than 75 years ago.
  • {{PD-old-70}} for works by authors who died more than 70 years ago.

US worksEdit

See also this handy table for determining PD status in the US.

  • {{PD-1923}} for U.S. works published before 1 January 1923
  • {{PD-US-not renewed}} for US works published between 1923 and 1963 with copyright notice, but the copyright was not renewed.
  • {{PD-US-no notice}} for US works published between 1923 and 1977 without a copyright notice
  • {{PD-US-1978-89}} for US works published between 1978 and 1989 without a copyright notice and its copyright was not subsequently registered with the U.S. Copyright Office within 5 years.

Non-US worksEdit

For non-US works, include a copyright tag indicating why the image is in the public domain in its country of origin as well as a US copyright tag, such as:

  • {{PD-1923}} for non-U.S. works published before 1 January 1923.
  • {{PD-1996}} for works that are in the public domain in their source countries on 1 January 1996.


When you use the tagging templates, materials are automatically added to one of the following source categories, or one of their subcategories.

Understanding LoC description pagesEdit

Deciphering the information on the description pages of LoC items can be a task in itself. This is an explanation of some of the more important fields.

Numbers and IDsEdit

  • Reproduction Number: This is the number of a (usually digital) reproduction/copy of the item. Example: LC-DIG-matpc-14231
  • Call Number: This is the identifier of the original item in the collection, the division is often added in brackets. Example: LC-M34- 14669 [P&P]


  • Rights Advisory: In general no exact assessments of an image are performed, instead an entire collection is evaluated and often you will see here the value no known restrictions in which case it is best to attempt to lookup the rights information for the entire collection or when known for the photographer. When an item has been individually evaluated this field will contain all the information known about the copyrights on this material. Example: No known restrictions on publication.
  • Notes: When an item has a known registered copyright, the number of that registration is often listed in this field. Copyright renewal information is sometimes also listed here.
  • Date: When the date is preceded by a c, for instance: c1909, then this means that this is the registered (or sometimes claimed?) copyright date.

Other fieldsEdit

  • Title: The title of the item. Example: Tel-Aviv
  • Creator(s): The photographer or publisher. Example: Matson Photo Service, photographer
  • Date Created/Published: The date the item was created or first published. LoC usually doesn't track these separately. Example: [between 1940 and 1946]
  • Medium: The physical properties of the original item. Example: 1 negative : safety film ; 5 x 7 in.
  • Part of: The collection that the material is a part of. A collection is usually a single donation of material or a set of materials that are curated G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection
  • Repository: The Division that is the curator for this item. Example: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA



We have had very good experiences in the past with contacting the Library of Congress. From reporting missing collections in their search engine, broken links, or getting image descriptions corrected, responses have generally been swift and useful. If you think something needs to be corrected or clarified, don't be afraid to contact them.