James Madison Building
Reading Room Policies and Procedures | Reading Room Services | Items to Bring to the Reading Room


Reader Identification Cards

All researchers must obtain a reader identification card to use the Law Library’s Reading Room and materials.  To obtain a card, visit Room 140 in the James Madison Building.  Current valid identification ( e.g. driver’s license, passport, etc.) must be presented to obtain a card.

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Use of materials in the Reading Room

The Reading Room contains 60,000 volumes of U.S. federal, state, foreign and international legal and legislative materials, including court reports, treaties, journals and encyclopedias. These items are available for use while in the Reading Room.  Reading Room material must be reshelved at the end of each day and may not be reserved from day to day.

Reference Desk Collection

This ready reference collection is located behind the reference desk in the Law Library Reading Room.  These are the volumes most frequently consulted by researchers and include research guides and directories to the federal government, Congress, the federal judiciary, sources for foreign law and indexes to international treaties.  Patrons may request these items from the reference desk staff.

Foreign Law Collections

Items within this foreign and international reference collection are designated as “LL-East” or “LL-West” in the Library of Congress Online Catalog.  To retrieve items in this collection, ask reference desk staff for assistance.

Retrieval from Closed Stacks

Patrons may submit up to five requests per hour for items from our closed stacks at the reference desk between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Retrieval of items takes approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Items will be held for 24 hours in the book pickup area after they are retrieved.

Retrieval of Microform

Access to microform materials is available in the Law Library Reading Room. The hours of service are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Requests for retrieving items must be submitted before 4:00 p.m.

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Retrieval of Rare Books

A rare book collection of more than 25,000 volumes is available through the Reading Room. Access to rare books is by appointment only.

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Five Day Reserve

Patrons may place items from the closed stacks on the five day reserve shelves located in the Reading Room.  Reference collection materials and other special collection items may not be placed on five day reserve.

Photocopying and Photoduplication Services

Photocopiers and photoduplication card vending machines are available in the Law Library Reading Room. Copies are 20 cents per page, or 25 cents a page for microform material. The copy card vending machines take one, five, ten and twenty dollar bills and do not return change. 

It is the responsibility of the patron to follow copyright restrictions when reproducing material.  Additional information on copyright law is available from the U.S. Copyright Office Web site.

The Library of Congress Photoduplication Service provides copies from the Law Library collection for a fee.  Patrons must supply specific citations (title, author, number of pages) in order for material to be copied.  For more information, visit the Photoduplication Service page.


Lending Policies

The Law Library of Congress will lend certain materials to participating libraries but not directly to individuals.  Researchers should consult with their public or institution’s library to arrange for loans.  For more information on the Library’s interlibrary loan practices, visit the Interlibrary Loan page.

Public Access Computers and Printers

The Law Library Reading Room has public access computers with attached printers.  These computers may be used for research purposes only.  Patrons may access personal email accounts in connection with their research while at the Library.  These terminals provide access to the Library of Congress Online Catalog, various legal databases and the Internet.  These computers do not have any word processing capabilities.

In accordance with Library of Congress regulations, recreational use of the Library's public Internet workstations is prohibited.  Persons using public Internet workstations solely for recreational purposes may be asked to leave the premises.

Patrons may bring flash drives and disks to copy files on public computers and to scan materials in microform format.

Use of Cell Phones, Laptops, Scanners and Cameras

Use of cell phones in the Reading Room is prohibited.  With prior permission, hand held scanners are allowed and patrons may use cameras without flash attachments.  Patrons may use laptop computers or other portable personal computers in the Reading Room.

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Last Updated: 04/03/2018