Library of Congress

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Address and Contact Info

Address: Washington, DC 20540

Phone: (202) 707-5000

Web page:

Librarian of Congress: James H. Billington

Online Catalog:

Online Finding Aids:

Archivists (principal contacts for advice on the collection):

Research Guide:

Hours and usage restrictions

Hours vary according to the reading room.

Admission to the various research facilities of the library is free and open to researchers over high school age. In order to use most of the library’s reading rooms and/or its collections, researchers must first obtain a library-issued user card at the Reader Registration Station in the Madison Building, room LM140. To obtain a user card, researchers must present a valid photo identification and proof of address. For maximum protection of its unparalleled resources, the library restricts personal belongings that may be brought into the reading rooms. Limitations may vary with the reading room. Certain collections, like those of the Manuscript; Rare Book and Special Collections; and Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound divisions, can be used only by those with a serious research purpose.

Collection Summary

The library’s extensive collections are universal in scope. They include books and pamphlets on nearly every subject and in a multitude of languages. Among them are the most comprehensive collections of Chinese, Japanese, and Russian language books outside Asia and the former Soviet Union; volumes relating to science and legal materials outstanding for American and foreign law; the world’s largest motion picture archives and the world’s largest sound recordings archives; the world’s largest collection of published aeronautical literature; and the most extensive collection in the Western hemisphere of books printed before A.D. 1501.

The manuscript collections relate to manifold aspects of American history and civilization and include the personal papers of most of the presidents from George Washington through Calvin Coolidge. The music collections contain volumes and pieces, manuscript and published, from classical works to the newest popular compositions. Other materials available for research include atlases, maps, and views; photographic records from the daguerreotype to the latest news photo; recordings, including folksongs and other music, speeches, and poetry readings; prints, drawings, and posters; government documents, newspapers, and periodicals from all over the world; and motion pictures, microforms, and audio- and videotapes.

The Library of Congress provides worldwide Internet access to its computerized databases, including its online catalog, as well as information for researchers, including loan and photoduplication policies.

Reading Rooms

Library of Congress, Manuscript Reading Room

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