library of congress main reading room

Inside the Library of Congress Main Reading Room

I went to the Library of Congress in hopes of a free tour and to basque in the greatness of old books, but what I got was so much more. I found out that you can easily get a library card and enter the private reading rooms. Here's how to get inside the Library of Congress Main Reading Room.

First, you need to get a library card.

library of congress library card

Go ​to the Madison building and ask the information desk where to get a library card. You have to show that you are of at least 16 years of age and have a photo id. That's it! You don't have to be a citizen, or a scholar, or even a researcher. 

Second, check your belongings.

library of congress main hall

You can't bring backpacks or food into the reading rooms. You'll have to go to the coat check and get a clear plastic bag to put the belongings you want to bring into the reading room.

Third, follow the long twisty corridor.

The main reading room is an absolutely stunning room filled with statues of the smartest men in history, including Beethoven, Shakespeare, Kent, Homer, Plato, and more. After you sign in and show your shiny, new card you can find a seat among the circle of desks. Each seat even has an outlet, a lamp, and the entire library has free Wi-Fi. You couldn't get this kind of availability even at a Starbucks!​

main reading room

Don't forget to see​...

The free tour of the Library of Congress takes you to see the Gutenberg and Mainz Bible​, a safe where they found Abraham Lincoln's pocket contents the day he was shot at Ford's Theater, and Thomas Jefferson's personal book collection which includes some of the rarest books in the world!

Embrace your inner nerdy-ness for absolutely free!​

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