Whether you are researching facts for a book, compiling historic information for a project, or trying to find an ancient map of Italy, the Library of Congress is a great place to start. Each day, the library adds about 10,000 items to its collections. Although it does not have every book ever published, it has millions of items which make up hundreds of miles of closed stacks. Originally, the library was created for members of Congress to utilize. Others are allowed to use the library, but they must have a Reader Identification Card to gain access. You will have to show this card to get into all of the 22 reading rooms, request items, or study. Reader Identification Cards are free, but not everyone can get a card. You have to follow the appropriate steps.

Step 1

Visit the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. You will need to go to the Madison building and locate the Reader Registration Station. This is where the library issues its Reader Identification Cards.

Step 2

Say you are a researcher. Not everyone is allowed to get a Reader Identification Card. You must be a researcher. If you do not plan to conduct research, you will be denied entrance. You cannot be high school student, unless you have authorization from the library.

Step 3

Provide a valid photo ID. Your passport, state driver's license, or state identification card are the only forms of identification the library accepts. You will need to show one of these. The librarian will then give you a form.

Step 4

Complete a self-registration computer program. You will sit down at one of the computers in the Reader Registration Station. You will have to provide basic information, including your address, phone number, and topics of your research.

Step 5

Record your ID number. After you have completed the self-registration, the computer will issue you an ID number. Make sure you write this number down on the form.

Step 6

Get your picture taken and sign your name. The picture and the signature will be digitized and included on your Reader Identification Card.

Step 7

Get your card. It may take a few minutes, but soon, your card will be printed and you can begin your research.