Using the Reading Room
Using the vast serial collections available in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room requires time and effort on the part of the researcher. Descriptive information found in the Library of Congress Online Catalog can be difficult to decipher even for the experts. Some of our materials are held in off-site storage, so we recommend contacting the reading room at least one week in advance of a visit. A librarian can confirm the availability of specific titles, dates, and formats of holdings, and, when necessary, place requests for materials to be delivered from off-site storage.
Most of the division's collections are held in closed stacks. Our materials are only served in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room and cannot be requested via the LC Online Catalog system. Request materials by filling out a call slip, comic book request form (PDF [104 KB]), or vault request form (PDF [56 KB]) at the circulation desk.
For best service, request materials in advance, including items stored off-site, via Ask a Librarian or call the reference desk: (202) 707-5690.
General Information about Requests
- Reader Registration card is required to request materials. A station is conveniently located in our reading room.
- Delivery time: 20-30 minutes for materials stored on-site.
- Off-site Materials - Catalog records indicating items shelved at "Ft. Meade" or "WMLC" signal that they are
stored off-site, therefore:
- Materials must be requested at least one week in advance of visit.
- Call the reference desk at (202) 707-5690 to verify the requested materials have arrived before visiting
- Materials will be held up to 14 days from the date the materials arrive from the storage facility. Ask reference staff for an extension, if necessary
- Which form do I fill out?
Making Paper or Digital Copies
The reading room is equipped with an overhead scanners, microfilm readers, and a multi-functional printer with photocopying and scanning capability.
Free of charge and users can send files to an email address or save them to a personal USB storage device. Public workstations, select microfilm readers, and overhead scanners accept USB storage devices so that users can save files.
Printing and photocopying
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.
Laptop, tablet, or smart phone with Wi-Fi capability
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.
Rules and Regulations
You are very welcome in the reading room. There are several tables available for quiet study and working with the collections. Ask questions at the reference desk, request materials at the circulation desk, browse the reading room stacks, and view rare items in a display that changes monthly. There are a few rules that must be followed:
- Beverages in covered, spill-proof containers are allowed in a designated area near the recent newspapers and magazines display area. No food is allowed.
- No personal belongings are permitted in the reading room except: Laptops, cellphones, paper, writing implements, and a handbag or purse no larger than 9.5 inches by 6.25 inches (size of a standard notebook). See Personal Belonging in the Library Buildings for a full list of prohibited items. You can store bags and coats in the Cloakroom located down the hall at LM-140.
All users must adhere to the Library's conduct policy as stated in the Conduct on Library Premises (LCR 08-120, sec. 6):
(A) all persons using those areas shall comply with the rules in effect in the various public reading rooms and research facilities, shall avoid disturbing other readers, and shall refrain from such conduct as the following:
- Eating, drinking, or smoking;
- Speaking loudly or making disruptive noises;
- Using, without authorization, any musical instrument or device, loudspeaker, sound amplifier, or other similar machine or device for the production or reproduction of sound, except for devices to assist hearing or visually impaired persons, or as authorized under section 7 of this regulation;
- Interfering, by offensive personal hygiene, with the use of the area by other persons;
- Spitting, defecating, urinating, or similarly disruptive activities;
- Intentionally abusing the furniture or furnishings in the area;
- Stealing or intentionally damaging any items from Library collections or Library property;
- Using computer terminals for purposes other than searching the Library’s databases or conducting research activity; or misusing computer terminals by conducting intentionally improper or obstructive searches; and,
- Using the Library’s photocopy machines or microfilm reader-printers for purposes other than copying Library materials, for copying that violates the copyright law (Title 17 U.S.C.), or for copying in violation of posted usage restrictions, e.g., "staff only."
(B) Managing Prohibited Activity
- When it becomes evident that a person is engaged in prohibited activity in a public reading room or research facility, a staff member on duty in the area shall, to the extent that he or she feels that doing so would not put himself or herself in a dangerous position, so inform the person and shall request that the individual desist from such activity or, if warranted by the circumstances, secure the assistance of a supervisor and the police or security personnel.