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Frequently Asked Questions


  1. What are the Library's visitor hours?

    The Thomas Jefferson Building and exhibition galleries are open to visitors from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The Jefferson Building is closed on Sundays. The Jefferson Building is open on most Federal Holidays, but closed on Thanksgiving Day as well as the Christmas and New Year's holidays. The Library typically follows Office of Personnel Management Guidelines related to government operations.

    Researchers can access the Library’s Reading Rooms during their open hours which are different than visitor hours.  Researchers should see Reading Room and Research Center Hours for details.

  2. Where is the Library of Congress located, and what is the best way to get there?

    The Library occupies three buildings on Capitol Hill. The Thomas Jefferson Building is directly east of the U.S. Capitol Building and holds most of the general visitor activities, including tours and exhibitions. The main visitor entrance is through the doors at the top of the Grand Staircase facing First Street SE between Independence Avenue SE and East Capitol Street. Entrance for ADA or anyone with strollers or rolling bags is at the driveway level beneath the Grand Staircase.

    The best way to arrive is by public transportation. The closest Metro stations are Capitol South (Blue/Orange/Silver Line—a two block walk) or Union Station (Red Line—a half-mile walk). For additional information, see

    Tour bus access on Capitol Hill is restricted. See the Commercial Bus Restrictions on Capitol Hill map for more information.

  3. What is the security entry process?

    All visitors entering the Library’s buildings must go through airport-like security. Visitors should limit the amount of personal property they bring to the Library. Certain prohibited items cannot be brought into the buildings. Dangerous weapons are prohibited items and include, but are not limited to, firearms, explosives, knives (including pocket knives), razors, and box-cutters. In addition, oversized (not exceeding 25"W x 15"H) suitcases or bags that will not fit on the x-ray conveyor belts are prohibited. No provisions are made for checking or holding prohibited items. Visitors to the Capitol Visitor Center may access the Library via an underground passage with no additional security check.

  4. Are there long waits to enter the Library?

    Visitors to the Library rarely have to wait in line on the First Street SE side of the Jefferson Building to enter through the main doors. When there is a line, the wait can vary from 15 to 30 minutes.

  5. Do I need tickets or reservations?

    The Library of Congress is free and open to the public. Visitors do not need tickets or reservations to enter the Jefferson Building or to visit the Library's public spaces and galleries.

  6. How can I tour the Library?

    For those who wish to tour on their own, a brochure (translated into several languages) is available at the Orientation Desks. Hour-long guided tours are available to walk-in visitors in groups of 10 or fewer on a first-come, first-served basis.  For availability, please check at an Orientation Desk at least 20 minutes prior to tour time. It is possible to request a tour reservation by contacting your Member of Congress or Senator. To request a tour for a group larger than 10, see below.

  7. May I reserve a tour for my group?

    Groups, schools and organizations with 10 to 60 participants may request a reserved tour within 3 months but at least 2 weeks in advance of their visit, by going to the Group & Student Tours page. Once a request is submitted, the Visitor Services Office will be in contact to confirm availability of a reserved tour. The office will contact the group leader again 1 week prior to the reservation to reconfirm final details.

    Tour bus access on Capitol Hill is restricted. See the Commercial Bus Restrictions on Capitol Hill map for more information.

  8. May I take photographs in the Jefferson Building?

    Photography is allowed in the public areas of the Jefferson Building. Flash photography is prohibited as posted in several areas: the Ceremonial Office, the exhibitions where original collections are on display and the Main Reading Room overlook. The use of photographic equipment, including tripods and selfie sticks, is prohibited without a photography and/or videography permit. Permits are not given for birthday, wedding and/or engagement photoshoots. All persons interested in photographing at the Library of Congress are required to follow the Photography and Video Guidelines (PDF, 52KB). News media and commercial productions, including photography shoots requiring location agreements, potentially intrusive professional equipment such as tripods, or interference with Library operations must contact the Office of Communications (, 202-707-2905) for approval and permits.

  9. What activities are there for children?

    Whatever the visitors’ ages, the Library has many fun activities to offer. Check at the Orientation Desks to find out about available activities. Visit the Young Readers Center with your children. Please see our Kids & Families page for more information.

  10. Is there a cloakroom?

    The visitors' cloakroom is available on the Ground Floor of the Jefferson Building and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Researchers should review the information at to find information on cloakrooms.

  11. Is the building accessible?

    The Library buildings are fully accessible. The Ground Level/Driveway entrance of the Jefferson Building is the designated ADA entrance for visitors. Wheelchairs are available for loan while you are in the building. Please go to Ground Floor Information Desk where you will be asked to deposit a photo identification when you borrow a wheelchair. Elevators provide access to all floors.

  12. Is parking available?

    The Library does not provide parking. Limited metered and two-hour zoned parking is available in the surrounding neighborhoods. Public parking garages are also available, with the largest being at Union Station.

  13. Is food available at the Library?

    The Library of Congress offers several food options. In the James Madison Building—The main café is on the sixth floor (LM 625) and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. On the tunnel level are Dunkin Donuts and Subway (LM G47), open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Jefferson/Madison Coffee Shop (LJ-C25) is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Adams snack bar (LA 110) is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Vending machines are available in all three buildings (LM-G47, LM-216, LM-440, LJ-C25 & LA-115) during all public hours.

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