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Research Center Geography and Map Reading Room

Using the Reading Room


While appointments are not required for the G&M Reading Room, they are encouraged, especially when requesting large amounts of material or collection items that need to be brought in from offsite. You can request an appointment here.

Reader Registration and Personal Belongings

Reader registration cards are required to enter the reading room. In general, children under 16 years old are not allowed to conduct research or accompany adults as they conduct research in the Division. Researchers may bring research materials into the Reading Room, including laptops and personal devices, notes, and pencils (no pens), but must leave all bags in the lockers provided at the entrance to the reading room or in the Madison Building cloakroom.

Requesting Material

While many of our maps are individually represented in the LC Online Catalog, there are many maps that are only cataloged by group record and are not easily found online. Our materials are only served in the Geography and Map Reading Room and cannot be requested via the LC Online Catalog system. Patrons can discuss their research interests with the reference librarian on duty who can suggest and pull material for viewing. The last pull time for material is 4:15pm.

Viewing rare materials requires an appointment. Walk-in patrons requesting rare materials will be scheduled as a same-day appointment pending availability of staff and resources. Rare materials are only served in a secure area of the Reading Room. Researchers must follow all directions of the reference staff regarding the handling of material.

Copying or Scanning Material

Patrons are welcome to take photographs of collection material using a phone or camera provided any flash is turned off. The Reading Room also has two overhead book scanners and a large format scanner which can be used by patrons to make copies of cartographic material subject to the condition of the item. Reference librarians will evaluate the status of any material and determine if it can be scanned using reading room equipment. Patrons need to provide a flash drive to save any files made with the scanners. Rare material may not be scanned.

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 do not 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.

Please submit any questions through our Ask-A-Librarian service.

Conduct in the Reading Room

All persons using the buildings and grounds of the Library are required to conduct themselves in a manner that will not detrimentally affect the peace, quiet, and good order of the Library. Persons using the Library must comply with official signs of a restrictive or directory nature, with the orders of the Library Police or the supervisor of the area, and with all Library of Congress regulations. See “Conduct on Library Premises” for more information.

While patrons are welcome to take photographs of collection material using a phone or camera, photography of individuals, including other visitors and staff members, is strictly prohibited without prior authorization. Flash photography is prohibited.

Food and drink are not allowed in the Reading Room. 


Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. SE
James Madison Building, LM B01
Washington, DC 20540-4650
View map External link


Public Hours
Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Final item requests at 4:15 p.m.
Closed Weekends & Federal Holidays
Request a research appointment