[ View menu ]

Were the Library of Congress stacks once open?

Filed in Books ,Encyclopedia
Subscribe to Decision Science News by Email (one email per week, easy unsubscribe)


There is an interesting post and discussion at Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science about whether the Library of Congress stacks were ever open to the public. Andrew has detailed memories of roaming the stacks, including information on how they were configured (“like spokes on a wheel”), which if correct would suggest that he was in there. However, the commenters’ personal experience and Web research finds evidence of the stacks being closed. And when Decision Science News was a young Web log going to high school in Potomac, Maryland in the 1980s, it remembers being denied access to the stacks. Today, the grown-up blog has learned that questions about libraries are often best handled by librarians, and has made use of the “Ask a Librarian” features on the LOC web site. The response:

This is in response to your inquiry of August 14, 2008.

The book stacks of the Library of Congress General Collections are not open to the public. There are 75,000 titles of reference material in the Main Reading Room, some shelved on decks that are directly adjacent to this room, that self-serve for all researchers in the reading room.

Prior to 1989, temporary stack passes were granted to select researchers who provided information that such access was necessary to their research. The stacks were closed after this time due to the need to secure the stacks and protect the book collections. Additional information about the closed stack system is accessible at http://www.loc.gov/rr/security/stacks.html/

You and your friend are most welcome to come to the Library, register as researchers in LM140 (Madison Building), and use the reading rooms for research purposes. If you have any additional questions about the Library’s collections and services, please use the Ask-A-Librarian service again.

Thank you for using the Library’s Ask-A-Librarian service.


Public Service & Collections Access Officer
Collections Access, Loan, & Management Division
Library of Congress
Washington, D.C. 20540-4630

This blog hypothesizes that Andrew, probably a prodigious student, got a researchers’ pass. This hypothesis recently got some support as Andrew added, “They definitely let me in the stacks when I was in high school. But I don’t know the official policy. Maybe I had to fill out some sort of form to get into the stacks; I don’t remember.”


  1. dan says:

    More feedback:


    September 30, 2008 @ 11:30 pm

  2. Recent Links Tagged With "congress" - JabberTags says:

    […] public links >> congress Are Filipinos Worth Dying For? Saved by tn9design on Mon 15-12-2008 Where the Library of Congress stacks once open? Saved by dandvd on Sat 06-12-2008 NYC Airports Struggle to Enter 21st Century Saved by sindy1223 […]

    December 21, 2008 @ 11:04 pm

RSS feed Comments

Write Comment

XHTML: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>