Library of Congress: Main Reading Room
Address: 101 Independence Ave. SE, Thomas Jefferson Bldg, Room LJ 100, Washington, D.C. 20540-4660
Telephone number: 202-707-3399
Open to the public: Yes
Interlibrary loan: Yes
Reference policy: Reference requests are accepted by: Ask-a-Librarian form, chat, telephone, email, in-person.
A Library of Congress Reader Registration card is required to use Library of Congress reading rooms. To obtain a registration card, applicants must be 16 years of age or older and present photo identification bearing a verifiable permanent address. Please see Reader Registration and Access to Library of Congress Reading Rooms for more information.
The Library of Congress was founded in 1800. After its collections were destroyed during the British attack on Washington in 1814, Thomas Jefferson made his eclectic and broad-ranging collection of approximately 6,500 books available for the reestablishment of the collection. The variety of Jefferson's library became the hallmark of the growing collection at the Library of Congress. The collection covers all subject areas with the exception of clinical medicine and technical agriculture, which are handled by the National Library of Medicine and the National Agricultural Library, respectively. The Library's collection of books and serials consists of over 25 million volumes from throughout the world and represent 460 languages. The Library of Congress is particularly strong in materials received via copyright deposit from United States publishers and overseas publishers with distributors in the United States.
Books and monographs
As the de facto national library of the United States, the Library of Congress acquires for its permanent collections works of research value in the philosophy of religion; the history and principles of religion; comparative religion; systems of theology and doctrine; law, liturgy, and rituals; religion and society: its historical, social, and cultural role; and trends and developments of current or historic importance. Emphasis is placed on publications of scholarly and research interest at national or international levels.
Inclusive publication dates of the General Collections are 1801 to the present. All pre-1801 materials are located in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division. Works on religious Law are in the Law Library. Below are some areas of particular strength.
Periodicals and newspapers
The highlights of the periodical collections mirror those in the monograph collection. Of special note are denominational reports, annual conference minutes, and journals.
The Library has hundreds of online databases which provide access to many additional full-text serials.
The microform collections relating to religion are large and varied in scope. One may review these in Microform Collections in Religion and Theology: A Guide. https://www.loc.gov/rr/microform/relmicro.html Other collections, not specifically relating to religion, also hold materials of interest. Please see A Guide to the Microform Collections in the Researcher and Reference Services Division.
Databases and/or electronic resources
Of special note:
Manuscripts from the Monasteries of Mt. Athos
Manuscripts in St. Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai
Manuscripts in the Libraries of the Greek and Armenian Patriarchates in Jerusalem
'Abdu'l Baha, 1844-1921; Baha'i faith; Bible; Buddhism; Christian Science; Christian sects; Church history; Church history--United States; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Church of Scientology; Eastern Orthodox Church; Eddy, Mary Baker, 1821-1910; Franciscans; Fundamentalism; Hadith; Hinduism; Hymns and hymnals; Islam; Jesuits; Judaism; Liturgy; Luther, Martin, 1483-1546; Missions and missionaries; Patristics; Qur'an; Protestants; Religion--United States--History; Religious education of children; Religious tracts; Russian Orthodox Church; Sacred texts; Sermons; Society of Friends; Sunday schools; Talmud; World Council of Churches