Learn about where to search, get a few strategies for searching, and find out more about viewing or listening to items in the collections.
For more information on conducting research with moving image and recorded sound materials, go to the "Using the Collections" section of this guide, or get in touch with reference librarians in the two research centers of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division of the Library of Congress:
To view or listen to materials, submit a request to our reference librarians.
Each user of the Library's research areas, including the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Research Centers, is required to have a Reader Identification Card issued by the Library.
When submitting viewing requests, please provide the title, call number, and date of the item. Names associated with the item, such as director/creator or performers, are also helpful. Call numbers will be a combination of capital letters and numbers, and will vary depending on the format of the item and the collection it is in (e.g. VBG 3214; FCA 4414-4416, LWO 5599 gr12 r2a1-3b, NCPB 5434, Decca 12-1401).
For recordings, album notes and jackets may also be requested.
Appointments for viewing film prints and video copies should be made as far in advance as possible to guarantee that requests can be fulfilled, with a minimum of ten days advance notice. A six-week lead time will guarantee that all but the most irreparably damaged items can be made accessible. Less advance notice curtails staff time to inspect requested items and deliver them to the Moving Image Research Center from off-site storage. Viewers can call the Research Center at 202-707-8572 or submit requests through Ask A Librarian.
Although advance notice is not needed for items that have been digitized, a reservation is recommended to guarantee equipment availability. If an appointment needs to be canceled or rescheduled, please contact the reference staff as soon as possible. Cancelation without sufficient notice can prevent others from having access to the facilities.
Appointments are required for listening to most of the material in our collection. Recordings do not circulate. Listeners can telephone the Research Center at (202) 707-7833 or submit requests through Ask a Librarian.
A growing number of our recordings have been digitized and are available for listening on demand. All others will take at least two weeks for our engineers to digitize for your listening appointment. Special arrangements are required for requests of more than five items at one time. Certain audio formats will require more time to digitize and will necessitate a longer wait. Please contact the Research Center as soon as possible with large requests or to identify previously digitized recordings.