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Know Before You Go

We’re so excited to welcome you back to The Library of Congress.

We’ve added new policies to help keep our community safe. Free timed-entry passes external link are required for entry. Groups of 11 or more people should request timed entry passes here. Masks are optional, but use is encouraged. It is advisable to wear a mask if: close contact cannot be avoided, or you are arriving to the Library from a situation or location that required masking.

Visitors must abide by all Library guidelines, including those listed below and/or guidelines posted at the Library. If a visitor or a member of their party fails to follow these guidelines, they may be denied entry or be asked to leave the premises.

Please review the following health & safety requirements:

  • TIMED ENTRY: Every Library of Congress visitor, regardless of age, must reserve timed-entry passes in order to maintain safe capacity levels in the Thomas Jefferson Building. Please bring your digital or printed pass to be scanned with a touchless device when you arrive at the Library.
    • A limited number of timed-entry passes are available for each day the Library is open to the public.
    • Visitors can reserve timed-entry passes up to 30 days in advance on a rolling basis.
    • Same-day timed entry passes external link are released online at 9:00 a.m. EST each day the Library is open to the public.
    • Timed-entry pass reservations can be made for up to 10 people.
    • Groups larger than 10 must fill out this form to request timed entry passes. Group reservations may be made up to 60 days in advance. Please be advised – voice amplification systems are not permitted inside the Thomas Jefferson Building.
    • Timed-entry passes may not be sold or transferred. Passes are valid only for the issued date and time and are void if altered.
    • If you cannot visit the Library on your scheduled date, you may cancel your pass by contacting visit@loc.gov. Passes cannot be transferred to alternate days.
  • SOCIAL DISTANCING: Individuals, household groups or those visiting together must maintain a safe social distance of at least 6 feet from other visitors. Those visiting as a group should remain together. Visitors under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Social distancing signage and directions will be found throughout our facilities.
  • GUIDED EXPERIENCES (TOURS): The Library of Congress is not currently offering guided experiences or tours. Your visit will be self-guided, but we have created a digital pathway to help you navigate Library spaces. Volunteers are stationed throughout the building to provide information and answer your questions.
  • HYGIENE: Please wash and sanitize hands frequently during your visit. Hand sanitizing stations are available throughout our facilities.
  • HEALTH SCREENING: Anyone who is feeling unwell or has a fever should arrange to visit another day.

General FAQs

  • ENTERING AND EXITING THE LIBRARY:
    • Please do not arrive before the entry time on your timed-entry pass.
    • Timed-entry passes will be scanned underneath the grand staircase at the visitor entrance on First Street SE between Independence Ave and East Capitol Street.
    • Last entry is at 4:30 p.m.
    • Visitors will exit at the same point of entry (underneath the grand staircase on First Street SE between Independence Ave and East Capitol Street.)
  • SECURITY: All visitors must navigate “airport-like” security to enter the Thomas Jefferson Building. We encourage you to limit the number of personal belongings and bags you bring into our facilities as they will be subject to a thorough search. Limiting the items you bring will increase your speed through security checkpoints, helping us all maintain a safe social distance.
  • PERSONAL BELONGINGS: There is a coat check station available on the Ground Floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building. Backpacks, bags, coats, strollers, and other personal items may be checked at no cost to the visitor.
  • SHOPPING AND DINING: The Library Shop is open whenever the building is accessible to visitors. At this time, there are no on-site dining options for visitors - we encourage visitors to eat and hydrate before entering the building, especially if they have special healthcare needs.
  • SELF-GUIDING THROUGH THE LIBRARY: Please be aware that navigating the Library’s public spaces in their entirety will take approximately 90 minutes, and will require about .5 miles of walking. Our highest visitation is from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. daily. During this timeframe, there may be long lines to access the Main Reading Room Overlook.

Some exhibitions, interactives, and indoor spaces may be closed or operate at limited capacity to ensure the safety of our visitors.

All on-site public tours are currently suspended. The Library will continue to offer virtual programs and experiences. Please check our upcoming events for specific dates and details.