Become a Reader

Registrar
201 E. Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
registrar@folger.edu
(202) 675-0306

The Folger Shakespeare Library welcomes researchers (or, as we call them, readers) from across the United States and around the world. To apply for reading privileges, please determine whether you qualify as a regular or a special-permission reader and submit your application materials as instructed. All applicants must show a current institutional or government-issued photo I.D. on arrival.

Regular readers

Regular reader cards are for academics, librarians, curators, and Folger docents.

These people are eligible for a regular reader card:

  • Full-time faculty from colleges and universities who are working in a field supported by Folger collections.
  • PhDs and PhD candidates who have successfully completed qualifying exams working in a field of study supported by Folger collections.
  • Librarians and curators from research institutions.
  • Folger docents (if they do not fall under any of the categories above) who have completed 600 hours or six years of consecutive service.

To apply: Fill out the Reader Registration form and submit one letter of reference from a professional colleague that verifies your qualifications. All letters must be from an institutional email address or on preprinted letterhead signed by the referee. Please email references to registrar@folger.edu.

Once you've received your reader's card, it is good for one year from date of issue. You may renew your card annually by contacting the registrar.

Special-permission readers

Special-permission reader cards are for students, educators, theater professionals, and other individuals who have a need to access the Folger collections.

The length of special-permission reading privileges is determined on a case-by-case basis. Special-permission readers can apply to have their privileges renewed by submitting a new application (including letters of reference) to the registrar.

These people are eligible for a special-permission reader card:

  • Graduate students at any stage before completing qualifying exams who have a research project that requires access to Folger collections.
  • Undergraduates at the junior or senior level who are working on a project for which the Folger provides unique resources.
  • Other scholars or individuals, such as artists, actors, booksellers, professional theater staff, teachers, and writers for whom Folger collections are critical for study, preparation, or production.

To apply: Fill out the Reader Registration form and supply two letters of reference that verify your academic qualifications and the relevance of the Folger collection to your research. If you are an undergraduate or a graduate student, one letter must be from your advisor. All letters must be from an institutional email address or on preprinted letterhead signed by the referee. Please email references to registrar@folger.edu.

Academic program participants

Participants in seminars, symposia, and workshops sponsored by the Folger Institute as well as participants in the Teaching Shakespeare Institute will automatically be registered as readers and do not need to provide a separate application. These reader cards can be renewed once without resubmitting an application.

If you are participating in a conference held at the Folger and would like to use the reading room, you will need to apply as either a regular or special permission reader depending on your academic qualifications.

 

Reader Registration

Regular reader cards are for faculty members, librarians, curators, post-exam doctoral candidates, and senior Folger docents. Special-permission reader cards are for all other students, educators, theater professionals, and other individuals who have a need to access the Folger collections.
Please enter the name and title of the person who will be writing your letter of reference.
If you are applying as a special permissions reader, please enter the name and title of your second reference.
Please provide a 1-3 sentence summary detailing the purpose of your research.
Please list the call numbers of the items that you plan to request from the collection. This list may be preliminary, and need not be comprehensive.

Registrar
201 E. Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
registrar@folger.edu
(202) 675-0306