Check it out! We have patron cards at the Library of Congress

WASHINGTON, DC – At the Library of Congress, the nation’s official research library, visitors can explore and marvel at the library’s architecture, preserved documents, rare books and intricate building designs.

Visitors come every day from all over the world to visit.

While most visitors viewed the main reading room on the first floor of the library through a clear plastic shield from the visitor gallery on the second floor above, we learned how to access books and research materials and even to sit in the sanctuary of the reading room. .

YJI Senior Reporters Katrina Machetta of Texas, left, and Lyat Melese of Virginia, right, with their new reader cards at the Library of Congress. (photo YJI)

While many people think the books in the library are off limits, the plethora of resources available there belong to the public and everyone has access to them. Any visitor can request to see the library’s collection under specific conditions.

Marvin Mostow, a Library of Congress volunteer, explained that we could get reader cards that would give us access to the first-floor space.

“All you have to do is turn sixteen,” Mostow said.

Other rules include signing, no photography in the reading room, and no large bags allowed. Although visitors can consult the documents inside the library, it is forbidden to take books outside the room.

Registering a card is a quick and easy process. This requires filling out a form, showing ID, and having your photo taken.

The library is a valuable resource for researchers and students wishing to study or gather information for reports, projects or personal study. The Library of Congress includes more than 167 million books, printed materials, recordings, photographs, and other forms of documentation covering approximately 470 languages.

Accessing Library of Congress documents and resources is even easier now that many documents have been digitized.

The Library of Congress is currently digitizing all materials to promote “nonexclusivity, transparency, and preservation,” according to its website. Digitization priority is based on Congressional priorities and the public interest.

“There’s so much you can find online now,” Mostow said.

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Inside the Library of Congress (Owen Ferguson/YJI)

The Library of Congress is currently participating in the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative, a 2007 effort by federal agencies to improve how they preserve and protect historical records by digitizing them to make them accessible online.

Although the library has made progress, it still has work to do to complete the digitization of all materials.

The Library of Congress is easily accessible and offers a variety of resources. On your next visit, you won’t need to look at the books from afar. You can get your reader’s card in minutes and enter the reading rooms to explore the books yourself.

Lyat Melese and Katrina Machetta are senior reporters for Youth Journalism International.

Read YJI’s 2014 interview with then Librarian of Congress James Billington:

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