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The Reading Room will reopen on Tuesday, June 25.

Hours

These hours will take effect beginning Tuesday, June 25.

Hours of operation: Tuesday – Friday, 9:30am – 4:30pm
Please note that the building has different hours and closures than the Reading Room. Building hours

Page schedule: 10am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, and 3:30pm
Items are retrieved from the Vault following this schedule. To receive items at a posted page time, requests must be submitted at least an hour beforehand.

Upcoming closures: Thursday, July 4
The Reading Room observes all U.S. federal holidays and Emancipation Day.  Closures may occur on other days and will be announced in the request system and on this page.

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Get in touch with us through the Ask a Librarian form.

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Preparing for your first visit

The Reading Room is open to anyone. Anyone under 18 years old needs to be enrolled in a Folger-sponsored program or be accompanied by an adult with a Folger reader card.

  • Register in advance of your visit by completing a short form at https://request.folger.edu/.
  • Present a current photo ID when you first visit (i.e. passport, driver’s license, school ID, work badge, Library of Congress ID, etc.).
  • A Folger ID will be issued on your first visit. Please always wear your Folger ID while in the building.
  • Please email reference@folger.edu with any questions about registration.

When you arrive

  • Complete registration by presenting your photo ID at the Visitor Experience Desk in the west lobby (the entrance closest to the corner of East Capitol and 2nd Street).
  • Stop at the Researcher Locker Room, which is located on the second floor and across from the Reading Room. (You will receive more detailed directions at the Visitor Experience Desk in the west lobby.) See our Reading Room policies below for what you should leave in the locker room and what you may bring into the Reading Room. Plastic bags are provided for items you are bringing into the Reading Room.
  • Head to the Reading Room, located across from the locker room, to check in.

Building maps coming soon!

a ramp leading down through green gardens and past the Puck fountain to the Folger building west entrance, on a sunny day
West entrance. Photo by Lloyd Wolf

Reading Room policies 

Items allowed

You may bring these items into the Reading Room with you. Loose items should be worn or should fit into one provided plastic bag (available in the Locker Room).

  • Permitted devices: personal computers, tablets, cameras, and cell phones
  • Pencils
  • Loose leaf paper, file folders, and notebooks free of adhesive notes
  • Bags smaller than 5 x 9 x 2 inches (12.5 x 23 x 5 cm)

The Reading Room is kept at around 70°F/21°C degrees. We recommend researchers dress accordingly. 

Items not allowed

You must leave these items in the Researcher Locker Room.

  • Food and drink (including bottled water, cough drops, and chewing gum)
  • Coats and bulky clothing
  • Bags larger than 5 x 9 x 2 inches (12.5 x 23 x 5 cm) and laptop cases
  • Non-graphite writing tools (including pens, colored pencils, and highlighters)
  • Things that cut (including scissors, hole punches, knives)
  • Things that stick (including sticky notes, staples/staplers, and tape)
  • Anything wet (including umbrellas and raincoats)
  • Cosmetics and lotions

Personal devices

  • Keep cell phones silent—that goes for camera shutter sounds where possible, too!
  • Make or take phone calls outside of the Reading Room.
  • Take as many photographs as you like for personal and noncommercial use (no flash please!). We invite you to use #FolgerFinds on social media for photos of collection items.

Workspace

  • Use Vault items at Reading Room desks only. Vault items cannot be consulted in the Reading Room balcony, the Reference Meeting Room, or Open Stacks.
  • Return Vault items to the circulation desk before leaving the Reading Room.
  • If you leave your desk for an extended period, please close any books, put manuscripts back in folders, and switch off your lamp.
A person using a cell phone to take a picture of an open book
Photo by Lloyd Wolf

Requesting and retrieving collection items

The Folger is a non-circulating library; researchers may not take Folger collection items outside the Reading Room. Collection items fall into three broad locations as noted in the catalog: Open Stacks, Vault, and Reading Room Reference—each with its own use policy summarized below. If you need help, get in touch with us at one of the service stations or online through our Ask A Librarian Form.

Open Stacks

Located on Deck B

  • Browse and retrieve these books independently
  • Stop by the Circulation Desk to check books out
  • Return books to Circulation Desk or any labeled carts (please do not return them to the shelf)
  • Keep up to ten (10) Open Stacks items on hold to use your next visit
  • If you haven’t used an item within 14 days, it will go back to the stacks
  • View your checkout history in your basket at https://catalog.folger.edu

Reading Room Reference

Located in the Reading Room

  • Items cannot be checked out or placed on hold

Vault

  • The vault is not open for browsing
  • Request items through the catalog for staff retrieval
  • Items are retrieved from the Vault following the posted paging schedule (see hours at the top of this page)
  • You can have up to ten (10) active item requests at a time
  • Check out three (3) items or less at one time to use at your workstation
  • Items must be turned into the Circulation Desk before leaving the Reading Room and 15 minutes prior to close
  • If you haven’t used an item within 14 days, it will go back to the stacks
  • IMPORTANT ACCESS NOTE: Some items have special considerations that require several weeks of review before use. This will be noted in the access advisory note in the item catalog record.

Handling collection items

Follow all staff instructions when handling items.

  1. Wash your hands before entering the Reading Room
  2. Set up a clear workspace
  3. Use provided item supports
  4. Be slow and steady when using items
  5. Wear ID lanyards so they hang down your back
  6. Remove any jewelry or other items that could catch on materials
  7. Make sure your hands are free when using items
  8. Materials need to stay on the desk at all times
  9. Do not stack items
  10. When writing, make sure your paper is on the desk, not on top of an item
  11. Share discoveries with others – invite them over to your desk instead of taking items to them
A book is set up on two supports, a small book snake resting on one side, two hands lightly rest on the book

FAQs

I want to do research in the Reading Room. What do I need to do?
Who can register?
How long is my registration valid?
When is the Reading Room open?
Do I need an appointment?
What can I bring with me into the Reading Room?
Why can’t I bring cough drops, cosmetics, or pens into the Reading Room?
These collection items seem fragile—are you sure I’m allowed to use them?
What is the difference between Open Stacks and Vault items?
How do I request Vault items?
How long do I have to wait for an item once I have requested it?
How many items can I check out at once?
How do I get Open Stacks items?
I’ve heard it’s really cold in the Reading Room! What can I wear to keep warm?
I need a break from researching. What do I do?
Can I bring my lunch?
Do you provide funding for research?
Does the Folger offer housing for researchers?

Contact us

Get in touch with Researcher Services staff through the Ask a Librarian form with any additional questions about your upcoming visit. We look forward to seeing you!