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Native American Resources from the Rare Book & Special Collections Division

Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room

View a larger map showing the location of the Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room.

The Rare Book & Special Collections Reading Room is modeled after Philadelphia's Independence Hall. Visitors are welcome to stop by to take pictures of the room, without flash, including the first edition Book of Mormon on display.

In order consult rare materials or special collections here, all researchers are required to be at least 18 years old, have a valid reader identification card (see the Using the Library of Congress section of this guide). Potential researchers must also read and agree with the Rules for Use. The rules outline important information about what is allowed in the reading room and what will have to be deposited in lockers, photography guidelines, general handling instructions, and more.

Rare Book and Special Collections staff can help locate material relevant to your research using the online catalog, the card catalog, and their own expert knowledge of the collections. This material cannot be requested through the online catalog, instead researchers will write call numbers on a paper request form in the reading room. Not sure how to find call numbers? See the General Search Strategies section of this guide.

About the Rare Book & Special Collections Reading Room

The unique materials of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, now totaling over 1 million items, include books, broadsides, pamphlets, theater playbills, prints, posters, photographs, and medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. At the center is Thomas Jefferson's book collection, which was sold to Congress in 1815. The Rare Book & Special Collections Reading Room is modeled after Philadelphia's Independence Hall. This room is home to the divisional catalogs, reference collection, and reference staff. Collections are stored in temperature and humidity controlled vaults.

Please note: Many of the original works listed in this guide have appeared in reprint or facsimile form, which can be found in the General Collections. More recent, non-rare, editions may include translations into English, indexes, supplementary documents, and scholarly assessments that intervening researchers have provided. Additionally, the Library's digital collections continue to grow, and wherever possible, you may be asked to use an online copy of an item in an effort to preserve the original materials.