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Library of Congress to Reopen First Reading Rooms in June

May 21, 2021 by TWN Staff
Library of Congress (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – The Library of Congress will reopen four reading rooms beginning Tuesday, June 1, to allow research access for a limited number of registered readers by appointment only, the library announced Thursday.

This is first step in the library’s plan to gradually resume on-site public services and access, while incorporating proven health and safety policies and procedures. The library expects to resume additional reading room services as conditions allow, followed by a return of limited, ticketed public access to library buildings this summer.

“We are excited to welcome the public back to America’s library in a deliberate way, ensuring that health and safety come first,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “We hope that by first offering appointment-based access to reading rooms, followed by timed, ticketed entry for the public later this year, we can safely and responsibly begin to share the great physical assets of the library with the American people once again.”

Initially, reading room access will be available by appointment only for three hours at a time between 9:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday in the Law Library, Geography and Map, Manuscript, and Newspaper and Current Periodical reading rooms.

Once those services are established and working well, additional reading rooms will begin to re-open for appointment-based services in several phases, the library said.

Updates on available reading rooms will be posted on the Library’s Pandemic Information for Researchers page.

Once these reading rooms re-open, the library’s temporary Electronic Resource Center, which offered researchers access to rights restricted digital content and other licensed electronic resources on-site during the pandemic, will no longer be available; however these electronic resources will be available in the reading rooms.

Starting on Thursday, May 20, those interested in using one of the available reading rooms can contact the specific reading room by phone or use the Library’s Ask-a-Librarian service to make appointment requests.

Users who do not have current reader cards must complete the online pre-registration form before coming to the library for a reading room appointment. When arriving at the library, all guests must show their appointment confirmation and a current reader card or proof of reader card pre-registration.

In addition, those who are not fully vaccinated at the time of their appointments are required to wear masks while inside library buildings. Masks are not required for those who are fully vaccinated, which is defined as people who received their second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines or who received the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine 14 or more days ago.

While in library buildings, all researchers and visitors will be required to follow social distancing policies regardless of vaccination status. The library also requires compliance with health screening protocols, which may be modified as conditions change. These may include temperature checks and responses to questions related to COVID-19 symptoms and exposure. The library’s enhanced health and safety protocols apply to everyone in library buildings, regardless of their vaccination status. Researchers will receive more information about current required health and safety policies when they make their appointments.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the library continues to make many library resources and events available remotely through loc.govAsk a Librarian and Congress.gov.

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