Readers in the Main Reading Room at the Library of Congress

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Notice: Appointments are optional, but encouragedTo help us better serve you, request a research appointment to ensure collection material is accessible during your visit at the Library. The Library of Congress asks all visitors to follow our COVID-19 health screening protocols, which are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the Office of the Attending Physician of the U.S. Capitol. For additional instructions, see the Researcher Scheduling page.

Reader Registration

Users of the Library's research areas, including Computer Catalog Centers, and Copyright Office public service areas are each required to have a Reader Identification Card issued by the Library. Cards are free and can be obtained by completing a registration process and presenting a valid government-issued ID, for example a driver's license, state-issued identification card, or passport. Researchers 16 and 17 years of age must also supply a Library of Congress Reader Identification Card Permission Form– Minor Teenagers and bring the signed document with them to obtain a Reader Identification Card. Questions should be directed to 202-707-5278. Reader Identification Care

A Reader Identification Card is valid for two years. While it is not possible to renew your Reader’s card online, you can present proof of a government-issued ID (for example, Driver’s License or Passport) to the representative onsite at either Library of Congress Reader Registration stations.

How and Where to Register in Person

New researchers should register in person at the Reader Registration Station located in the Madison Building, Room LM 133 (in the Newspaper & Current Periodical Reading Room) or the Jefferson Building, Room LJ 139 (in the Microform and Electronic Resources Center). The Library cannot accept registrations via mail, email, or telephone. Upon completion of a simple computerized self-registration process, Library staff will verify your information, take an identification photo, have you provide a digitized signature, and give you your card.

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  • Reader Registration Hours:
    • Madison Building (Room LM 133) 8:30am – 4:30pm, Monday – Saturday
    • Jefferson Building (Room LJ 139) 8:30am – 8:00pm, Monday – Thursday, and 8:30am – 4:30pm, Friday and Saturday

How to Pre-Register Online

It is possible to pre-register online by completing a simple Web form (this can be done up to two weeks prior to visiting the Library of Congress in person). You will still need to report to the Reader Registration Station and present your valid identification. Once your ID has been verified, Library staff will take an identification photo, have you provide a digitized signature, and give you your card.

PLEASE NOTE: The ID shown must contain the same information (e.g., home address) that was entered when you pre-registered online. If a change has occurred, Library staff will modify the information prior to issuing the Reader Identification Card.

Special Instructions for Registering Large Groups

Those planning to bring large groups of new researchers to the Library for registration should contact the supervisor of the Reader Registration Station in advance at 202-707-5278 to ensure expeditious processing of the group.

Using Your Reader Identification Number to Request Materials from the Collections

Library of Congress registered readers may use the Library of Congress Online Catalog to request materials from the Library's general collections, the Law Library, and from the Asian and Music Division collections. The automated call slip service (ACS) offers delivery of materials only to the Library's Main, Science and Business, European, Hispanic, Law, and Performing Arts reading rooms.

To use this service, you will first have to log in with a temporary password (provided to you in one of the Library's reading rooms) and then immediately create your own unique password. This process will establish your "patron account."

Access to Library of Congress Reading Rooms

A valid Reader Identification Card is the minimum requirement for access to the Library's public reading rooms. Some reading rooms have supplemental registration procedures and/or conditions of use (some reading rooms require researchers to be 18+ years of age).

For more information about the requirements in a particular reading room, one should contact that reading room.