Sunday, March 31, 2013

Getting a Library Card at the Library of Congress

Library of Congress Main Reading Room (LoC file photo)
Last weekend, I took a trip to the Library of Congress to get a library card and checkout a book. While this might sound impressive, it's really a fast and simple process. It only took about 10 minutes from walking in the door until I had my library card in hand. The best part is that I didn't need any reservations, etc. – most any American citizen would have the same experience.

My newly issued Library of Congress library card.
Getting my library card only required three quick steps. After signing in and showing my driver's license I was given a single page paper form which I filled out by hand and then entered the same info into a computer. The final step was to have my photo taken and my card issued. 

Once I had my card in hand, I proceeded to the Main Reading Room to find some books on Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. A very helpful librarian looked up RDML Hopper and told me that books about her were in the Adams Building. She said that I could request the books to be delivered to me in the Main Reading Room, which would take about 90 minutes, or I could just walk over the the Adams building, across the street, and check them out there.

Adams Reading Room: Checkout slip and book in hand.
I chose to walk over to the Adams building, but not before taking a gander through the Main Reading Room. Throughout most of high school, I worked as a page in my local public library which I really enjoyed, especially since the Web hadn't been invented then.

At the Adams Reading Room, I simply filled out a slip of paper and I had my book in hand within 10 minutes.

Since it was a Saturday morning, the Library was fairly empty, so keep that in mind if you ever intend to pay a visit. I probably gained 10 to 15 IQ points just by visiting.

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