The Grand Main Reading Room at the Library of Congress is now open to visitors

Image from Library of Congress Website

Image from Library of Congress Website

The grand main reading room at the Library of Congress opened for visitors on April 11th. Visitors may attend from 10:30 to 11:30am and 2 to 3pm on Tuesdays through Fridays. Now anyone may reserve a time to visit and look around and explore resources.

The Library of Congress is one of the largest libraries in the world, with more than 173 million cataloged items. The Library helps supply Congress with information. Previously, the grand main reading room was only open to researchers who will still work in tandem with the visitors. Additionally, visitors may attend the library from 5-8 pm on Thursdays.  

“I have visited both the in-person Library of Congress and the website for the Library of Congress,” said an industrial engineering student at Purdue University, Ben Cohen.

According to Stonehill College, only 8% of scholarly journals are on the web. The information you can find at the Library is extensive. Also, sources on the internet may not be as reliable as published journals on the shelves of a conventional library. Getting professional help in order to find the sources you need is another benefit of visiting the Library of Congress. Visitors are expected to stay quiet to keep a peaceful and professional working environment. 

“My high school AP government teacher recommended it as a great place for research for our project,” said Cohen.

With a reservation and a photo id, anyone may visit the Library. Anyone who is at least 16 years old may use the collection in the Library. Unfortunately, books may not be checked out and must be used on-premises. 

The Library is also a beautiful place to tour. A self-guided tour will let you see the marvelous building and see all the material the Library has to offer. Historical documents and rare books are a sight to behold. 

Writing research papers and doing projects using the Library of Congress’ in-person or digital sources has a great benefit. 

“There are several digital collections on the Library of Congress website containing historical photography, important documents, audio recordings, and much more,” said English teacher and media center assistant, Ms. Sarah Bastien.

The Library of Congress is very helpful for students who need or want primary source documents. Although, the Library is certainly more complicated to visit compared to a local library or an online site.

“You need a Library of Congress Reader’s Card and, as a high school student, the LOC requires a letter from the principal authorizing the use of the Library for their project,” said Bastein. “They will meet with a reference librarian to determine if their project requires use of the Library of Congress as well.”

The Library can also benefit students who graduate high school.

“The Library of Congress, especially the rare books and other print materials, are a significant resource for people doing research at the college or graduate and doctoral level,” said Bastien.