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Research Center Asian Reading Room

Rare Book Policy

Asian Division rare materials are accessible by appointment only. All researchers requesting rare materials are required to contact us prior to their visits as advance notice is needed to retrieve rare items for research use.

  1. The prospective user of rare materials should be engaged in scholarly research.
  2. The prospective user of rare materials must obtain an LC reader registration ID card in LJ-139 before visiting the Asian reading room (LJ-150). For more information on reader registration see:
  3. The researcher must check personal belongings in a Library cloakroom and may bring only materials essential to research into the reading room. There are two cloakrooms in the Jefferson Building. They are both located on the ground level. One is near the Visitor's Center at the First Street entrance and the other is on the Second Street (South) side. No outerwear (raincoats, overcoats) is allowed in the reading room. For a list of materials that may not be brought into the Asian reading room, see the Library's Personal Belongings Policy at:
  4. Once in the Asian reading room, the researcher must sign in at the reference desk and show a reader registration ID card.
  5. The researcher should write or email the Asian Division to set up an appointment with the reference librarian responsible for the subject area to access rare items for research use. Specific research interest and the rare material needed for this research should be indicated in the writing communication. If a surrogate copy is available (such as a photocopy, microfilm, microfiche, or digital image), it will be provided in lieu of the actual rare materials unless a librarian has determined that there is a compelling reason for the researcher to consult the originals. For top tier rare materials, an approval from the Chief of the Asian Division is required.
  6. The researcher must fill out the Asian Reading Room Rare Books Request form. The researcher must also read and sign the Asian Reading Room Registration and Agreement form on a daily basis.
  7. The copying of rare materials in the Asian Division is normally not allowed. As a general rule, the Asian Division does not permit the copying of any material whose age or physical condition is such that photocopying, scanning, photographing, or microfilming might cause damage to the material. Under special conditions, however, a librarian may give permission for original rare materials to be copied - photocopied, scanned, photographed (digital or film-based), or microfilmed on a case-by-case basis. In cases of uncertainty, the librarian will seek the advice of the chief and/or conservation staff. If a rare item has already been microfilmed or a facsimile exists, a researcher may order a reproduction of the microfilm or facsimile through the Library's Photoduplication Service (PDS). PDS operates on a fee-for-service basis. For details on ordering and pricing call (202) 707-5640 or see Each researcher is responsible for gaining permission from the relevant copyright holder prior to making any use of the materials.
  8. The researcher is required to consult the rare material at the rare book table closest to the reference desk in the Asian reading room, under the supervision of a reference librarian or Area Specialist at the reference desk. The researcher may be asked to use book cradles and weights to hold up the rare material and should comply with this request. Please consult the guide on Handling Asian-Style Books.
  9. Rare materials are not to be left unattended anywhere in the reading room for any length of time. When the researcher is temporarily away for short periods of time such as lunch, restroom, break, or telephone call, etc., the researcher should return the rare material to the person on duty at the reference desk.
  10. When the researcher is finished with the rare material for the day, it is again checked by the issuing, distributing, or designated staff member and one other staff for its physical condition and completeness and he or she then signs the original request form while the researcher is still in the reading room.


Library of Congress
10 First Street, SE
Thomas Jefferson Building, LJ 150
Washington, DC 20540-4810


Public Hours
Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Closed Saturdays, Sundays & Federal Holidays
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