Top of page

Research Center Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room

Using the Reading Room

The Rare Book and Special Collection Reading Room, LJ 239, and is located on the second floor (rear) of the Jefferson building.

There are information booths just inside the Jefferson building entrance to help you find your way to the Rare Book Division.

Rare Book and Special Collection Reading Room

Material in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division cannot be requested online through the Library's online catalog.  

Appointments for consulting rare book material are optional, but encouraged to optimize your time at the Library.  One can, request specific material when requesting an appointment here.

You can  request materials when you arrive at the Rare Book and Special Collections Division (RBSCD). Please note, items stored in offsite locations—indicated by the note “STORED OFFSITE” in the “Request In” field of a online catalog record—usually take 24 hours to reach the reading room upon request. Items will be held in the RBSCD for up to 7 days after retrieval. 

All readers are required to read and agree to a "READER'S REGISTRATION AND AGREEMENT TO COMPLY WITH THE RULES FOR USE OF RARE MATERIALS IN THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS" form, available in the Reading Room, which states the following:

Researchers must have an adult reader registration card (18 and above years of age) at time of submitting requests to access material in the RBSCD. 

  1. Deposit personal property not essential to work in lockers provided by the Division.

    Items allowed in the Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room:

    • Pencils
    • Computers
    • Cameras
    • Phones (on silent mode)
    • Personal or supplied loose sheets of paper for notes or reference

    Items not allowed in the Reading Room:

    • Bags of any kind
    • Pens
    • Personal books and bound material
    • Tripods
  2. Photography is only available after librarian consultation. Permission to photograph items in the collection is based on availability of digitized copies and condition of the items.
  3. Exercise the greatest possible care to prevent damage to items from the Library’s collections.
  4. Observe any special handling condition indicated by the reading room staff. Materials are to be consulted in cradles at all times unless otherwise noted by Library staff.
  5. Handle the material only at assigned places and return it to a staff member at the issue desk whenever leaving the room.  Remain in the Reading Room until a staff member has checked all returned items. 
  6. Submit for inspection any loose sheets before leaving the Reading Room.
  7. Acknowledge that the Library neither grants nor denies permission to publish or quote from material in its collections. (Consult with reading room staff about questions dealing with Copyright and the duplication of items in the division.)

If you have further questions, please contact:

The Rare Book Special Collections Division
(202) 707-3448


Library of Congress
10 First Street, SE
Thomas Jefferson Building, LJ 239
Washington, DC 20540-4810
View map External link


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