The Library has been systematically collecting material in Russian since 1945, although some important earlier material is held. Two special collections support research in Soviet / Russian affairs and the history of communism.
The Russian Collection covers all aspects of Soviet and Russian social, economic and political life with particularly good collections of books, pamphlets and reports on economic conditions and economic policy, trade, government and law.
Following the break up of the Soviet Union the Library continues to collect Russian publications in its core areas of interest (politics, economics, and social studies), both from the Russian Federation and the former Soviet Republics. Materials in Ukrainian and to a lesser extent Belorussian are also collected. No works are held in the non-Slavic languages of the former Soviet Union. The Russian Collection currently contains around 34,500 monograph titles.
The Schapiro Collection contains books and periodicals principally covering Soviet and East European affairs of the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras.
Particular strengths include the history of communism, the dissident movement in the USSR, and the publications of external monitoring services such as Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe.