Users of the Library's research areas, including Computer Catalog Centers, and Copyright Office public service areas are each required to have a Reader Identification Card issued by the Library. Cards are free and can be obtained by completing a registration process and presenting a valid driver's license, state-issued identification card, or passport. Researchers must be 16 and above years of age at time of registration. Questions should be directed to 202-707-5278.
A Reader Identification Card is a permanent card which remains valid for two years. To ensure patron information has remained unchanged, at the end of the two year period, each reader must renew their card in person by returning to the Reader Registration Station and presenting a valid form of identification.
How and Where to Register in Person
New researchers should register in person at the Reader Registration Station located in the Madison Building, Room LM 140 (First Floor, near the Independence Avenue entrance). The Library cannot accept registrations via mail, email, or telephone. Upon completion of a simple computerized self-registration process, Library staff will verify your information, take an identification photo, have you provide a digitized signature, and give you your card.
- View Library of Congress campus map
- View Reader Registration Station location in Madison Building (Room LM 140)
- Reader Registration (LM 140): 8:30am to 4:30pm - Monday through Saturday
- Main Reading Room (LJ 100): 4:30pm to 9:00pm (on evenings when the general reading rooms are open until 9:30pm)
- Both stations are closed Sundays and Federal Holidays
How to Pre-Register Online
It is possible to pre-register online by completing a simple Web form (this can be done up to two weeks prior to visiting the Library of Congress in person). You will still need to report to the Reader Registration Station and present your valid identification. Once your ID has been verified, Library staff will take an identification photo, have you provide a digitized signature, and give you your card.
PLEASE NOTE: The ID shown must contain the same information (e.g., home address) that was entered when you pre-registered online. If a change has occurred, Library staff will modify the information prior to issuing the Reader Identification Card.
Using Your Reader Identification to Requesting Materials from the Collections
Library of Congress registered readers may request materials from the Library’s general collections via the LC Online Catalog (catalog.loc.gov) using their individual "account numbers." Materials will be retrieved for use only in the Library's Main, Local History and Genealogy, Science and Business and Area Studies reading rooms. In order to use the service, readers must have a Reader Identification Card issued after April 15, 2009.
- Guide for Requesting Materials in the Library's Online Catalog [PDF, 363KB] (revised December 2011)
Special Instructions for Registering Large Groups
Those planning to bring large groups of new researchers to the Library for registration should contact the supervisor of the Reader Registration Station in advance at 202-707-5278 to ensure expeditious processing of the group.
Access to Library of Congress Reading Rooms
A valid Reader Identification Card is the minimum requirement for access to the Library's public reading rooms. Some reading rooms have supplemental registration procedures and/or conditions of use (some reading rooms require researchers to be 18+ years of age).
For more information about the requirements in a particular reading room, one should contact that reading room.