Image from The History and Adventures of Little Eliza. Philadelphia: William Charles, 1812.
“Serving Those Who Serve Children”
Part of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, the Children’s Literature Center was founded in 1963 with the Congressional mandate to “provide reference services to government officials, librarians, publishers, writers and illustrators, and the general public.” Today, visitors and researchers from around the world use the Center’s services to gain access to the Library’s extensive collections of children’s literature and related materials.
Visitors to the Center are Welcome
Inquiries can be made in person, by letter, phone, or online at Ask a Librarian or Researchers needing extensive assistance are encouraged to make an appointment before their visit. For group visits and book presentations, please call at (202) 707-5535. Readers must have a reader card to use the collections. Reader Cards are issued in the Madison Building (LM-140).
The smallest Children’s Book in the World
In the Center Reading Room, a children's literature specialist offers research assistance, locates materials, and orients researchers to the Library's extensive resources. The Center houses a reference and a showcase collection of illustrated children's books. Visitors and their school-age children are welcome to the Center to see the smallest children's book in the world and other rare and special items on display.
Children's Literature Collections
Most of the Library's approximately 500,000 to 600,000 children's books are housed in the General Collection including fiction, poetry and folklore in English
and some European languages are housed off-site and need to be requested in advance,
but can be retrieved from the Main Reading Room within 24 hours. However, non-fiction children's books are scattered throughout the Library's complex collections. Informational children's books are housed in the Library's three buildings (Jefferson, Adams, and Madison). They are available from the Main Reading Room with a delivery time of approximately one hour.
For example, non-English language children's books
are housed in the respective language divisions; maps for children
are held by the Geography
and Map Reading Room; bound children's periodicals are shelved
in the general collection and more recent unbound periodicals are
in the Newspaper and Current Periodical
Reading Room; rare children's books are housed in the Rare
Book and Special Collections Reading Room; children's books with
musical scores can be found in the Performing
Arts Reading Room; original children's book art is in the Prints
and Photographs Reading Room; children's books in Braille are
held by the National Library Service
for the Blind and Physically Handicapped; and television programs
for children are in the Motion
Picture and Television Reading Room.
Children's Books in Special Collections
Children's books in non-Roman languages, rare books, sound recordings, television programs, maps, illustrations, and secondary materials may be requested from the following Library of Congress Divisions:
- Rare Book and Special Collections
- Newspapers and Current Periodicals
- Prints and Photographs
- Geography and Maps
- American Folklife Center
- Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound
- Asian, European, Hispanic, and African & Middle Eastern divisions
See a listing of fully digitized children's books from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.
All Library of Congress materials must be used on-site and may not be charged out.
Reserving Books Ahead of Time
Visitors may reserve materials prior to visiting via the Access to Collections Ask-a-Librarian form. Enter the full citation and Library of Congress call number for all titles needed and enter the planned date of arrival in the “Question” field. Requests must be submitted five working days before arrival date.
Visitors wishing to use any of the Library's reading rooms must obtain a Reader Identification Card at the Reader Registration Station in Room LM-140 of the Madison Building. (Hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 8:30 am to 9:00 pm, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.)
Visitors will be asked to fill out a brief form, present a valid photo ID, and pose for a picture. For more information, please go to the Library of Congress Online Help Pages.