Use of the Library
The primary function of the Library of Congress is to serve the Congress.
In addition, the Library provides service to government agencies, other
libraries, scholars, and the general public. The Library welcomes public
use of its general reference facilities and endeavors to offer the widest
possible use of its collections consistent with their preservation and with
its obligation to serve the Congress and other government agencies.
All researchers preparing to come to the Library are strongly encouraged
to pursue preliminary exploration in appropriate public, academic, or special
libraries, so that they can make efficient use of the Library of Congress.
Readers should be prepared to present photo-identification showing a current
address (e.g., a currently valid driver's license or passport) in order
to obtain a Library-issued Reader Identification card, needed for admission
to Library reading rooms and when requesting materials from the collections
stored in closed stacks (LCR 1810-2). Anyone over high school age with appropriate
photo-identification may apply for a Reader Identification card; a written
introduction is not required.
A high school student will be allowed to use the Library if he or she meets
all three of the following conditions:
The student has exhausted all local library resources
(school, public, and university) and has identified specific materials
available only at the Library of Congress. (This will usually require consultation
with a local librarian and an Internet search of the Library's Online Catalog
or a search of other bibliographic resources).
The student has a letter from his or her principal
describing in detail the student's project and the specific materials the student
needs to use.
The student is interviewed by a reference librarian
in the appropriate reading room, who makes the final determination as to whether
or not the student's project requires use of the Library's collections.
The Library provides much material of potential use to high school students through
its website, and an examination of this material may prove sufficient for a student's