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Information for Researchers - Using the Library of Congress

Use of the Library

The primary function of the Library of Congress is to serve the Congress. In addition, the Library provides service to government agencies, other libraries, scholars, and the general public. The Library welcomes public use of its general reference facilities and endeavors to offer the widest possible use of its collections consistent with their preservation and with its obligation to serve the Congress and other government agencies.

All researchers preparing to come to the Library are strongly encouraged to pursue preliminary exploration in appropriate public, academic, or special libraries, so that they can make efficient use of the Library of Congress. Readers should be prepared to present photo-identification showing a current address (e.g., a currently valid driver's license or passport) in order to obtain a Library-issued Reader Identification card, needed for admission to Library reading rooms and when requesting materials from the collections stored in closed stacks (LCR 1810-2). Anyone over high school age with appropriate photo-identification may apply for a Reader Identification card; a written introduction is not required.

A high school student will be allowed to use the Library if he or she meets all three of the following conditions:

The student has exhausted all local library resources (school, public, and university) and has identified specific materials available only at the Library of Congress. (This will usually require consultation with a local librarian and an Internet search of the Library's Online Catalog or a search of other bibliographic resources).
The student has a letter from his or her principal describing in detail the student's project and the specific materials the student needs to use.
The student is interviewed by a reference librarian in the appropriate reading room, who makes the final determination as to whether or not the student's project requires use of the Library's collections.

The Library provides much material of potential use to high school students through its website, and an examination of this material may prove sufficient for a student's needs.

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  December 1, 2016
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