Using the vast serial collections available in the Newspaper & 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, and 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.
General notes about requesting materials:
Designated shelves in the reading room allow for reserving certain collection materials. The shelves are organized alphabetically by last name; fill out a yellow slip (located on the reserve shelves) with your name and the date and place it with the materials. A maximum of ten of the following can be placed on reserve for up to 3 business days: current loose newspaper issues, microfilm reels, microfiche sheets, periodical issues, and government documents. After 3 days, staff will return materials to the closed stacks.
Some materials cannot be reserved: self-service microfilm, reference books, display newspapers or periodicals, and any material requested from the vault. Vault materials and newspapers in bound volume format can be placed on reserve (in closed stacks) through consultation with reference staff.
Reference staff may allow other readers access to reserved material.
Reading room staff provide skilled reference services that are facilitated by catalogs, bibliographies, inventories, and other finding aids, not all of which are available online. Searching for serials can be confusing! We welcome questions about our holdings and beyond.
Some of the types of questions we commonly receive in the Newspaper & Current Periodical Reading Room include:
If you aren't able to visit the reading room in person, there are other ways to access our collections.
Interlibrary loan allows for borrowing materials that are not available to you locally. Generally, most newspapers on microfilm are available for interlibrary loan. Neither the self-service microfilm titles nor the division's print collections circulate. A librarian at your area library needs to initiate the loan request, and up to 6 microfilm reels may be sent to your local library for you to view there. More about Interlibrary Loan from the Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress Duplication Services provides copies of materials, including those in print, microfilm, and digital formats, for a fee.