Library Orientation

Using the reading room

In order to use the reading room, you must first apply to become a reader. Once you have a Folger-issued ID identifying you as a reader, please wear it at all times while in the Library.

Bags, coats, and laptop cases are not permitted in the reading room; however, we do have a cloak room where you may hang your coat, and lockers where you may leave your bags.

Pens, markers, food, water, and anything that might be adhesive need to be left behind, but computers, phones, cameras, pencils and notebooks are all welcome.

You will find clear plastic bags in both the cloak room and at the registrar's desk for the things you wish to bring in with you.

Reading room hours

The reading room is open 8:45 to 4:45 Monday through Friday, and on Saturdays from 9:00 am to noon and again from 1:00 to 4:30 pm. It is closed on Sundays and Federal holidays.

On Saturdays, the reading room cannot page vault materials. If you will need vault materials on a Saturday, please submit your request in person by 3:00 pm on Friday afternoon or by email to readingroom@folger.edu.

Finding materials at the Folger

The Folger's collections are in two main sections: Open Stacks (Modern) Books and Vault (Rare) Materials.

Modern printed books (published 1831 and later) are arranged by Library of Congress call numbers on open stacks located on Deck B, and will be listed in our online catalog Hamnet. Once you've found your book, please charge it out at one of the circulation desks. You may not remove any material from the Library, but you may charge out as many modern books as you need for use at your desk. We will be happy to hold them aside for you for the length of your visit.

Many of our rare books (pre-1831), manuscripts, art, and special collection materials are discoverable in Hamnet, particularly for books published in England; however, if you are working with Continental materials, you may also need to consult our card catalogs (yes, we still have them!). Once you have the call numbers of rare materials you wish to consult, please fill out call slips for each item and submit them at the reading room desk. You may request as many items as you need, but will only be allowed to work with a maximum of six items at a time. Retrieval time for rare materials is usually 30–60 minutes, so please plan accordingly.

Guidelines for using Folger materials

Before beginning your research, please review the following information in Folgerpedia:

Guidelines for Using the Collections: General information about use of the reading room.

Handling Vault Material: Ensuring that you handle our vault materials safely will help us ensure that they are available for readers in the future.

Photography Guidelines: Cameras are allowed (and even encouraged!), but make sure you know the dos and don'ts of taking pictures of our collection materials.