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Information for Researchers - Using the Library of Congress

How to Request a Book

Locate the entry for the book in either the computer or the card catalog. Before requesting a book, be sure that the catalog entry for the item in question has a Library of Congress call number. If the entry is lacking a call number, or if the call number appears to be incomplete, ask a reference librarian for assistance.

As of 2009, registered readers may request materials online through the LC Online Catalog. See Automated Call Slip (ACS) for instructions on how to activate your account.

Fill out a call slip for each item being requested. Each reading room has its own slips (blue ink for Main Reading Room, red ink for Adams Building, and brown ink for Local History and Genealogy Reading Room). Supplies of call slips are provided at the book service stations in the Main Reading Room and the Local History and Genealogy Reading Room in the Jefferson Building, and on the fifth floor of the Adams Building. A completed call slip should contain the following:

LC call number
Author (if available)
Volume (if a multi-part work)
Reader registration card number
Reader's desk number or other delivery instructions (see below)

It is not necessary to add the date of publication for a monograph (book) to the call slip, unless the date is part of the call number. If the date is part of the call number, include it in the "call number" box of the call slip, not in the "volume or date" box.

Select a vacant desk and write its number on the call slip. The book will be delivered to the indicated desk. If no desks are available, omit the desk number. Write your last name instead, and the book will be held at the designated book service "Hold" area. Should researchers wish to leave the reading room while waiting for books, they may have materials held, even though desks are available. Books in the hold area will be held until the Library closes for the day.

Give the completed call slip, along with a Library reader registration card, to the staff member at the book service stations in the Main Reading Room or Local History and Genealogy Reading Room, or on the fifth floor of the Adams Building. The staff member will stamp the request with the date and time it was received and return one copy. This copy should be kept in the event that a response to the request (either the book itself or the call slip explaining why the book has not been delivered) is not received. No Library materials will be issued to persons without the required user card.

To request books one day in advance, complete a call slip for each item, omit the desk number, check the "Overnight" box, add the next day's date and your last name, and give the slips to the staff member at a book service station. No more than fifteen "Overnight" call slips may be submitted. "Overnight" books are retrieved the next morning (usually by 10:00 A.M.) and held at the book service station throughout the next day. "Overnight" requests can also be made on any weekday for the following Saturday. Information on the status of overnight requests will not be provided by telephone.

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  June 11, 2012
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