Ask a Librarian

Do you have questions about Folger collections, Shakespeare, or the early modern period?

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If you have not found the answers you seek, please use the form below to ask Folger Reference staff for help.

How the Folger Reference staff can help you

No collection? No problem! The reference librarians are still able to answer many of your questions while the collection is off-site during our building renovation project.

Scholarship relating to our collection: Even though our modern books are off-site too, we still have our catalog! Searching our catalog is a great way to find out what books are out there on your topic. We'd be happy to help you with your search and to find other libraries that might have the same books. We're also happy to help you access journal articles.

Non-copy-specific questions about early English books: Many early English books (STCs and Wings) are accessible through digital surrogates. We're happy to help track down digital versions of the books you're after, and we'll do our best to answer your questions.

Questions about Shakespeare and the early modern world: There are many helpful, freely accessible websites out there—one of them might have the answer to your question. Ask away, and we'll see what we can find for you!

Plan a future research visit: We're happy to help you identify materials that you might want to see when we reopen in 2022. We know grant funding and sabbatical planning sometimes needs to be done years in advance, so let us help you plan your future endeavors.

Virtual Reference Appointments: Want to discuss your research project with someone who can point you to resources? Sign up for a virtual reference appointment with a reference librarian! Submit your question and preferred time (EDT) via the form below and we will get back to you to schedule your appointment along with a Zoom link. The Zoom platform allows us to share our screens with you and talk one on one to help you, wherever you are!


Will researchers have any on-site access to the collection?
No. For the safety of the collection, it is being moved off-site for the duration of the renovation project. Access to our building is restricted as well, for safety reasons.

Will researchers have any access to the collection anywhere?
Possibly. We are exploring possibilities to provide limited access to select collection items. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

Will researchers and/or Folger staff have access to modern books/journals?
While our modern collection is being moved off-site, there are a number of resources that researchers and Folger staff can use. Let us know what you're looking for and we'll see what we can do to help.

How can researchers find other copies of items to use at other libraries?
For modern scholarship: WorldCat is the best way to find what libraries near you have the books you need.
For early English books: ESTC is your best resource.
For early modern continental books: USTC (contributing libraries are primarily European).
For Shakespeare editions (excluding folios): Shakespeare Census

Can researchers still order digital images?
Information about Imaging Services during our renovation can be found on our Imaging and Permissions page.

Will researchers have access to subscription databases through the Folger?
Registered researchers will have access to select databases through their online request account. Don’t have one? Create an account and we’ll walk you through the rest.

Will Folger staff still conduct classes?
Yes! While we can’t host on-site classes or rare material displays, we're happy to do in-class presentations (for those in the DC area) or virtual classes (for those elsewhere). Contact us and we'll work out a plan!

Please note: we do not provide appraisals, and considerations for staff members' time may preclude us from answering queries if they require extensive research.