The IISH Library holds about one million records. Next to scholarly journals and monographs in the field of social history, the original publications of the social movements, e.g. periodicals, posters and leaflets, are abundantly present. All these printed materials are available for research and can be retrieved through different types of searches in the IISH catalogue.
The scope of the library collections extends considerably beyond the boundaries of social history. This is thanks to the inclusion of specialized libraries and subject-based collections of books, leaflets, pamphlets, and periodicals.
The following collections deserve special mention:
- the library of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences contains over 700 early printings (1480-1600) and several important series of periodicals from learned societies, travel and expedition accounts, manuscripts and pamphlets of all disciplines in science.
- the library of the Dutch National Council for Social Wellbeing (NRMW) contains hundreds of publications in the field of crime, well-being, and care.
- the Lavrov-Goc library, the library of the Russian Socialist-Revolutionary Party (PSR) contains approximately 10,000 titles, including Marx's Russian books with his personal remarks.
- the library of the Bund, the Algemeyner Yidisher Arbeiterbund in Lite Polyn un Rusland, a collection comprising 20,000 leaflets and pamphlets
- two special collections in the library, Staatsarchief and CSD contain many flyers as well as image and sound and printed materials from the anarchist squatters and action scene of the 1970s-1990s.
- the Kashnor collection, named after an antiquarian in London, comprises nearly 4000 publications from 1650 to 1880, ranging from laws promulgated by Oliver Cromwell to discussions on the Corn Law, Indian currency and other colonial issues.