User’s Guide to the Library of Congress

Image Source: The Q Speaks under Creative Commons,

The Library of Congress (LOC) is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world. Summer Dong, a UC Berkeley senior studying political science and history, is interning at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars as a Matsui Washington Fellow. In a recent blog post, Dong offers some advice on navigating the LOC.

Among other witty suggestions she offers this helpful tip:

Getting a reader’s card is a pain. It is the largest library in the world (according to its own website and Quora), meaning that it’s probably a huge bureaucracy too. It has three different buildings and more than a dozen reading rooms. If you have made it this far in my blog post, congratulations because you’ll remember to go straight to Room 140 in the MADISON BUILDING upon your first visit because that’s the only place you can get a reader’s card, the only sacred pass for you to access everything else in the LOC. All three buildings (Madison, Jefferson and Adams) are interconnected through underground tunnels, which is pretty cool, so people don’t have to walk in chilly wind if they happen to be at the wrong building. And there is always a long line at the card service, so be patient about that too.

If you ever plan on visiting the Library of Congress, take a look at Dong’s blog post first and gather some advice from someone with first-hand experience.