The archive is divided into four sub-collections.
- Complete works about Saare County and the people of Saaremaa and works that include some information about them.
- Works of authors who are from Saare County or have lived and worked here.
- Publications of printing houses, which have operated or are currently operating in Saare County.
- Religious texts (bibles, catechisms, hymnals, books of sermons, prayer books, etc.), the majority of which have been published before 1940.
The library also includes personal collections of some famous people of Saaremaa, such as Joosep Aavik, Karl Palk, Aira Kaal, etc. Books containing autographs of people who have played an important role in the history and culture of Saaremaa and publications that have belonged to institutions and organizations that have operated in Saaremaa and include their stamps are very valuable as well. The oldest publication is a catechism written by Johann Spangenberg, a contemporary of Martin Luther, which was printed in Magdeburg in 1562. The catechism used to belong to Kuressaare Congregation of St Lawrence.
The collection includes the following periodicals:
- Periodicals published in Saare County.In addition to daily newspapers, this sub-collection also includes religious periodicals, newsletters of state farms, collective farms and other establishments and companies, newspapers of rural municipalities, school newspapers and some other periodicals with different aims that were published for a short period of time. Among other things, the sub-collection also includes the earliest newspaper that was published in Kuressaare, Annoncenblatt, which came out from 1865–1882; the annual volumes preserved in Saaremaa Museum (1865–1870, 1873–1874, 1878–1882) are the only known copies in Estonia. The collection also includes other single copies of some periodicals, such as issue no. 1(2) 1929 of the illegal communist newspaper Saare Tööline (Saaremaa Worker) and Известия Моонзундской укрепленной позиции‘s issue from 14 March 1917. Rare finds include the handwritten newspapers Arensburgische Wochen – oder Intelligentzblätter that were published by Balthasar von Campenhausen, the Deputy Governor of Livonia, in 1785–1788.
- Periodicals published abroad and in other parts of Estonia. The majority of this section is made up of periodicals published before 1940 in Estonian. Most of the periodicals in foreign languages are from the 19th century (for example, scholarly series that belonged to the Research Society of Saaremaa). Among other things, the sub-collection also includes the first scholarly series that centred on Estonian issues. The series was called Beiträge zur genauern Kenntniss der ehsthnischen Sprache and was published by J. H. Rosenplänter from 1813 to 1832. Several pastors of Saaremaa also collaborated on this series (J. W. L. von Luce, P. H. von Frey, A. H. Schmidt).
- Estonian periodicals abroad. The sub-collection has developed since the 1990s, mainly thanks to the donations and inheritance of the people of Saaremaa who live abroad. It includes both single issues as well as sets of issues; the more complete annual sets consist of newspapers published in Sweden, the most complete one being the set of Eesti Päevaleht (Estonian Daily Newspaper).
- Single issues of newspapers and magazines/journals that have been published abroad or elsewhere in Estonia and include articles about Saare County or the people of Saaremaa.
- Offprints The offprint collection includes articles written about Saare County (nature, history, language and literature) and the people of Saaremaa. However, the majority of offprints are the works of authors who are from Saare County and have lived and worked here.
The collection contains recollections, biographies, studies of family trees, historical statements about buildings, reports about archaeological works on construction sites, reports about archaeological excavations, local studies, works of students from general education schools of Saare County, works of university students, chronicles, diaries, songbooks, descriptions of living conditions, ethnographic descriptions, etc.
The majority of the sub-collection is made up of local studies and biographical works. A great number of Albert Seppel’s works about the history of Leisi district, Manivalde Jõgi’s works about the history of West-Saaremaa and Eldur Seegel’s works about the history of Sõrve Peninsula are represented among the local studies. The greatest numbers of manuscripts deal with the topic of education. There are also a lot of different recollections that talk about pivotal historical events and describe the life stories of the people of Saaremaa on the background of these events.
The collection includes very different documents that describe the everyday life of the people of Saaremaa and their spheres of activity as well as historical events. In terms of topics, more documents deal with agriculture, education and theatre. Of personal collections, the most noteworthy ones are those of Aira Kaal, Alma Klauren, Gustav Ränk, Joosep Aavik, etc. The diverse heritage of Johannes Aavik is especially remarkable. It includes handwritten linguistic materials, correspondences and documents that describe everyday living conditions.
In addition to this, the document collection also contains a few geographical maps and tourist maps, stamps, bookplates, labels and small publications.
The oldest document in the collection is a letter of freedom from 1532 that was given to a peasant called Hanseke from Koguva village by Wolter von Plettenberg, Master of the Livonian Order.