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Motion Picture and Television Reading Room (Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division)
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Guidelines for Viewing Films, Videos and Digital Files


Hours and Location

8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday
Motion Picture and Television Reading Room, 336 Madison Building

Who Can View

Film, video, and digital access copies are available for screening in the Motion Picture and Television Reading Room by qualified researchers.  Viewing facilities are provided without charge for individuals doing research that will lead to publicly available works, such as dissertations, publications, or film/television productions.  University students, with projects endorsed by their professors also qualify. We are unable to accommodate groups.

Viewing Appointments

Appointments for viewing film prints and video copies should be made as far in advance as possible to guarantee that requests can be fulfilled, with a minimum of ten days advance notice. A six-week lead time will guarantee that all but the most irreparably damaged items can be made accessible. Less advance notice allows our staff less time to inspect requested items and deliver them to the Reading Room from storage at the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia.

Although advance notice is not needed for items that have been digitized, a reservation is recommended to guarantee equipment availability.  If an appointment needs to be cancelled or rescheduled, please contact the reference staff as soon as possible.  Cancellation without sufficient notice can prevent others from having access to the facilities.

Submitting Viewing Requests

When submitting viewing requests, please provide title, call number (e.g. VBG 3214; FCA 4414-4416), and date.

Offsite researchers should begin their search by using the Library of Congress Online Catalog.  For titles not found online, researchers may submit title lists to be searched by our reference staff.  Please limit your request to no more than forty titles.

When an access copy does not exist, researchers can contact a reference librarian to discuss the possibility of generating a digital access copy.

Access to Film Prints

In an effort to minimize potential damage to the material, we sometimes prohibit access to film prints, especially if the title is readily available on DVD or online. Exceptions, however, can be made for specific research needs. Film prints are inspected before delivery to the Reading Room.  If a copy is in poor condition, it will not be made available for viewing.  Every attempt will be made to transfer the item to a digital file, but this process may take up to six weeks.

To avoid damage to the material, film prints must be viewed at normal sound speed.  Fast forwarding or rewinding is strictly prohibited. Viewers may, however, stop films and rewind scenes at normal speed for note taking. Patrons are not allowed to thread films on the viewing flatbeds; assistance will be provided.  


Recording equipment of any type is not allowed in the viewing room.  Photographing images from the screen for reference purposes will be permitted only when authorized in advance by our reference staff.

Reader Identification Card

Users of the Library's research areas, including the Motion Picture and Television Reading Room, are each required to have a Reader Identification Card issued by the Library. 
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  The Library of Congress >> Researchers
  June 6, 2012
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