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Research Center African and Middle Eastern Reading Room

Using the Reading Room

The Reading Room of the African and Middle Eastern Division (AMED) offers a sheltering environment to those performing research involving the countries and languages of this broad expanse of the world. It is here that works in a wide variety of formats in these custodial languages are requested and where researchers may confer with specialists to plan an effective research methodology for their stay at the Library of Congress. A broad array of services is available in the reading room to foster the success of each project.

Appointments are optional, but encouraged to serve you best, ensure general collection material is accessible during your visit and optimize your time at the Library.  Request a research appointment here.  Prior appointments are required for using rare items. See Rare Book Policy for more information.

Requesting materials

If you have a valid LC Reader Identification Card and an online account, you can request materials online in advance. AMED materials have “African & Middle Eastern Reading Room” in the “Item Availability” section of their bibliographic records in the online catalog. Materials that have “Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms” in the “Item Availability” section of their bibliographic records are accessible in the Main Reading Room. This includes materials in languages like English, French, German, and Spanish, among others. Items are only accessible in the reading room indicated in their records. Read more about requesting materials.

You can always request materials during your visit. Items stored in offsite locations—indicated by the note “STORED OFFSITE” in the “Request In” field of a bibliographic record—usually take 24 hours to reach the reading room upon request. Items will be held in the African & Middle Eastern Reading Room for up to 7 days after retrieval. Use Ask a Librarian for any items unavailable for online request.

To access rare materials, including rare books and manuscripts, contact the African & Middle Eastern Division through Ask a Librarian to request an appointment in advance.

Special arrangements can be made to use non-rare African & Middle Eastern Division materials in the Main Reading Room during times when the African & Middle Eastern Reading Room is closed. This includes Saturdays (8:30am-5:00pm), and Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays (5:00pm-9:00pm). Please speak with a librarian to make these special arrangements.

Making paper or digital copies

The reading room is equipped with an overhead scanner as well as a multi-functional printer with photocopying and scanning capability. Scanning is free, and users can send files to an email address or save them to a personal USB storage device. Printing and photocopying is fee-based and requires a credit or debit card. If you will need high quality copies, you can purchase them through the Library's Duplication Services.

Digital cameras or smart phones may be used to photograph collection materials and are especially suitable for items too old or fragile for photocopying or scanning. Flash photography, however, is not permitted. Lighting conditions in our reading room are not designed for capturing publication-quality images. No tripods or external lights are allowed in the reading room. Please consult reference librarians if you have any questions on making copies.

In some cases, because of rights considerations, higher resolution images or digitally available books display only when you are in Library of Congress buildings using the Library of Congress equipment or a wireless connection. Your use of this equipment or wireless connection makes you responsible for rights assessment.

A laptop, tablet, or smart phone with Wi-Fi capability and adequate storage is the most reliable means for saving files accessed through electronic resources. When using a public workstation, users can save files to a personal USB storage device. Bear in mind that USB devices may fail in transit. They may also not work as expected due to the operating system format compatibility between the LC workstations and the users’ home machines.

Keep in mind copyright and other restrictions associated with the collections. If you are planning to photocopy, download, publish, or distribute copies of items or images from our collections, be prepared to do some research or risk assessment. The Library of Congress does not hold rights to items in the collections and therefore, we are not in a position to grant or deny permission to use them. Tips for assessing risks, including the duration of copyright, can be found on the website for the US Copyright Office.

The principles of fair use apply when printing or downloading articles or e-books from electronic databases. Please review the information on Responsible Use of Electronic Resources at the Library of Congress.


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Thomas Jefferson Building, LJ 229
Washington, DC 20540-4810
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Public Hours
Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Closed Saturdays, Sundays & Federal Holidays