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Rare Book Policy

The Library of Congress Asian Division Policy and Procedures for Access and Use of Rare Materials

All researchers requesting rare materials are advised to write, email, or telephone the Asian Division prior to their visits as advance notice may be needed to retrieve rare items for research use.

Reference Desk Telephone: (202) 707-5426
Fax: (202) 707-1724
Mailing Address: Asian Division, The Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20540-4810

  1. The prospective user of rare materials should be engaged in serious research.

  2. The prospective user of rare materials is required to obtain an LC Reader Registration ID Card in LM 140 before visiting the Asian Reading Room (LJ 150). For more information on reader registration see:

  3. The researcher must check personal belongings in a Library cloakroom and bring only materials essential to research into the Reading Room in order to maintain a scholarly atmosphere and to better protect Library materials. There are two cloakrooms in the Jefferson Building. They are both located on the ground level. One is near the Visitor's Center at the First Street entrance and the other is on the Second Street side (South). No outerwear (raincoats, overcoats) is allowed in the Reading Room. For a list of materials that may not be brought into the Asian Reading Room, see the Library's Personal Belongings Policy at:

  4. Once in the Asian Reading Room, the researcher must sign the Section Register (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Southern Asian) that corresponds to the language of the material being requested. The registers are kept at the Reference Desk.

  5. The researcher should then ask to speak with an Area Specialist or Reference Librarian who will interview the researcher concerning his or her research interest and the rare material needed for this research. If a surrogate copy is available (such as a photocopy, microfilm, microfiche, or digital image), it will be provided in lieu of the actual rare materials unless a librarian has determined that there is a compelling reason for the researcher to consult the originals.

  6. If the librarian determines that the researcher should see the originals, the researcher then fills out an official LC Call Slip for the rare material. The Call Slips are kept at the Reference Desk. The researcher must fill out a Call Slip for each rare item requested. Only one rare item can be used at a time, unless given special permission by an Area Specialist or Reference Librarian.

  7. The researcher must then complete, in ink, the form "Library of Congress Reader's Registration for Use of Rare Material" and must read and sign the " Asian Reading Room Reader's Registration and Agreement to Comply with the Rules for Use of Rare Materials in the Library of Congress."

  8. The researcher may then wait up to approximately 60 minutes for the Reference Librarian or Area Specialist to bring the rare materials or surrogate copies to the Asian Reading Room.

  9. The copying of rare materials in the Asian Division is normally not allowed. As a general rule, the Asian Division does not permit the copying of any material whose age or physical condition is such that photocopying, scanning, photographing, or microfilming might cause damage to the material. Under special conditions, however, a librarian may give permission for original rare materials to be copied - photocopied, scanned, photographed (digital or film-based), or microfilmed on a case-by-case basis. In cases of uncertainty, the librarian will seek the advice of the Chief and Conservation staff. If a rare item has already been microfilmed or a facsimile exists, a researcher may order a reproduction of the microfilm or facsimile through the Library's Photoduplication Service (PDS). PDS operates on a fee-for-service basis. For details on ordering and pricing call (202) 707-5640 or see

  10. The researcher is required to consult the rare material at one of the two tables closest to the Reference Desk in the Asian Reading Room, under the supervision of a Reference Librarian or Area Specialist at the Reference Desk. The researcher may be asked to use bolsters and snakes to hold up the rare material and should comply with this request. Please consult the Handling Asian-Style Books.

  11. Rare materials are not to be left unattended anywhere in the reading room for any length of time. Rare materials are to be secured in a cage, safe, or mobile storage unit even when the researcher is temporarily away for short periods of time such as lunch, restroom, break, or telephone call, etc. In those cases, the researcher should return the rare material to the person on duty at the Reference Desk.

  12. When the researcher is finished with the rare material for the day, it is again checked by the issuing, distributing, or designated staff member for its physical condition and completeness and he or she then signs the original request form while the researcher is still in the Reading Room.
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  The Library of Congress >> Researchers
  November 15, 2010
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