The primary function of the Library of Congress is to serve the U.S. Congress. In addition, the Library provides service to government agencies, other libraries, scholars, and the general public. The Library welcomes public use of its general reference facilities and endeavors to offer the widest possible use of its collections consistent with their preservation and with its obligation to serve the Congress and other government agencies.
Anyone with a free Reader Identification Card can request books and other materials for use in the Library's research centers (go to the "Reader Identification Card" tab for more information). The links below provide important information for researchers to review prior to visiting the Library of Congress.
To reach a reference librarian for assistance and direct support, go to the "Ask a Librarian" tab here. It includes a video tutorial about the service.
The Library's collections are the largest in the world and represent a wide variety of physical formats and languages. Library of Congress staff are able to help you identify and request materials in twenty-one general and specialized reading rooms. Anyone 16 years or older can come in to use the Library (go to the "Reader Identification Card" tab for more information).
Books, pamphlets, journals, newspapers and other serial publications. More about the General Collections
More than 470 languages are represented in the Library's global collections. More about the International Collections
Photographs, maps, music, sound, film, manuscripts, and other media. More about the Special Format Collections
Users of the Library's research areas, including Computer Catalog Centers, and Copyright Office public service areas are each required to have a Reader Identification Card issued by the Library. Cards are free and can be obtained by completing a registration process and presenting a valid driver's license, state-issued identification card, or passport. Researchers must be 16 and above years of age at time of registration. The following link provides more information on how and where to register and the video tutorial walks you through the process:
You can find and request eligible materials at the Library of Congress by using the Library of Congress Online Catalog. To request materials, you must first register for a Reader Identification Card (view information on previous tab) and then set up your online account. This video demonstrates how to request materials online through the online catalog.
The Ask a Librarian service provides an easy way to get research assistance online directly from Library of Congress reference librarians. Use the link below to ask a question, and the video tutorial below provides a quick overview of the service.