How to do research in the Archive of Folk Culture
We strongly advise that you contact the reference staff a minimum of one week before your visit to allow us enough time to locate collection materials and to provide you with any additional information you might need. Arrangements must be made to access unprocessed materials (digital and analog) or materials stored offsite. Our hours are M-F, 8:30am-5:00pm, except Federal Holidays.
All researchers to the Library of Congress must obtain a Reader
Registration Card. The Folklife Reading Room (where Archive collections
are accessed) is located on the ground
floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, Room G53.
Keep in mind that the Library of Congress
has multiple Reading
Rooms and that your research may take you beyond
the Folklife Reading Room. Allow enough time on your visit to thoroughly
explore the Library's resources.
What can I access onsite?
Collection Materials: We have approximately 3000 collections
consisting of more than 300,000 sound recordings and six million items.
A small fraction of these collections
are available on the Web. In the Reading Room you can listen to sound
recordings, view manuscripts, graphic materials, and moving images, and
not available on the Web.
Indexes and Databases: While there is no comprehensive,
item-level catalog to our collections, there are a number of indexes
available onsite for finding particular song titles, performers, and folklife-related
topics in our collections. Many finding aids
are online, but
some are only available in the Reading Room. Also online is the Traditional Music and Spoken Word Catalog, our catalog to . Several individual collections
have databases searchable by titles, performers, and keywords. We also
have a collection-level database searchable by keyword.
Books and Periodicals: We have assembled a 4000-volume collection of
general reference books and periodicals covering the broad areas of folklife,
oral history, and cultural anthropology.
Ephemera: Includes our vast collection of Subject Files
covering a variety of areas of folklife, ethnomusicology, and related subjects.
files contain newspaper and periodical articles,
documentation of Archive research, bibliographic and discographic notes,
research on fictitious and real individuals, songs, American Indian tribal
groups, geographic regions, ethnic groups, folk genres (e.g. storytelling,
etc.), organizations, festivals, educational institutions, and music groups.
Can I make copies of collection materials?
Researchers may not make their own copies of audio
or video materials onsite. For information about getting copies see: Ordering
Copies of Unpublished Recordings and Ordering
Copies of Photographic Materials.
In most cases making photocopies of materials is not a problem, but
we recommend that you consult with the Reference Staff before doing so.
Researchers may use digital cameras for most materials, but scanners are