Special Collections Reading Rooms

Special Collections Reading Rooms

Reading Room Guidelines

  • Follow all DC Public Library customer behavior guidelines during visit.
  • No food or drink permitted.
  • Cell phone use is not permitted.
  • No items can be checked out.
  • All bags much be kept on the floor.
  • A reserved area in the Washingtoniana Reading Room is provided for users to access the following materials:rare books, maps, clippings and memorabilia files, non-current newspapers and magazines and government documents. Consult with the librarian to request these materials and place all belongings in a locker before entering the reserved area. Personal cameras, laptops, handheld scanners, notes and writing materials are permitted in the reserved area.
  • Personal laptops on battery power are permitted in all areas; electrical outlets are provided at designated tables. Wifi is available at all DC Public Library locations.
  • Cutting tools are not permitted.
  • Please do not reshelve maps, books, or microfilm; place books on reshelving carts; and return current magazines and newspapers to shelving.

Photo & Archives Research Guidelines

Due to enhanced security and preservation needs of items in the archival and photo collections, additional guidelines apply: 
  • Please register during your first visit.
  • Sign log at each visit.
  • Place all belongings in a locker.
  • Use pencils only; ink pens, markers, etc. are not permitted.
  • Wear gloves to handle photographs without plastic sleeves.
  • Personal notes, laptops, and writing pads are permitted.
  • Personal camera equipment is permitted for on-site camera shoots with permission
  • Personal scanners are not permitted.
  • Leave manuscript boxes or folders on cart until ready to review.
  • Place only one folder at a time on research table to review.
  • Place flag in place of folder you remove from a box to mark for refiling.
  • Reproductions and permissions information


  • Two photocopiers are in Washingtoniana, one in the main Reading Room and a second in the Photo & Archives Research Room
  • One photocopier is in the Black Studies Center
  • One photocopier is in the Peabody Room
  • Copies are 15 cents per page for black and white, 35 cents per page for color
  • Please bring coins or $1 bills for vending machine; credit or copy cards are not accepted

Microfilm reader/printers

  • Three microform readers and six digital microform reader/printers with zoom, high resolution, contrast and other features are in the Washingtoniana Reading Room.
  • One read-only microform reader is in the Black Studies Center.
  • One digital microform reader/printer is in the Peabody Room.
  • Microform readers are for viewing only at no cost.
  • Printed scans from the digital microform readers are 15 cents per page; please bring coins or $1 bills for vending machine; scans may also be downloaded to a personal thumb drive or emailed free of charge.
  • Local newspapers, various property records, city directories, D.C. census through 1930, certain rare books, etc. are on microfilm or microfiche.
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