From LOC

Meet FRED.

FRED. Picture taken by Hannah Fischer.
FRED. Picture taken by Hannah Fischer.

FRED is a Forensic Recovery of Evidence Device, and it is just one of the many fascinating stories and objects presented by the Preservation and Conservation Directorate at this afternoon’s 13:00 tour before the official launch of the three pre-conferences.

I have worked at the Congressional Research Service for twelve years, but have never visited the preservation and conservation areas of the Library of Congress before. So I decided to join the tour for an hour, and I was so happy I did! From stories about using Edison’s own lab books to make wax cylinders like those that were once used as recording devices, to the story of a change Jefferson made to the United States Declaration of Independence (Library of Congress employees found that Jefferson wrote “fellow citizens” over his original words, “fellow subjects”), every story revealed new insights into the amazing work that goes on at the Library every day. For those who have signed up for the Preservation and Conservation Directorate tour on Friday: you are in for a treat!

Here are some more tour highlights:

A book that has been sent to the Preservation Directorate. Picture taken by Hannah Fischer

The Library of Congress is working on keeping more digitization projects in-house using tools like this one. Picture taken by Hannah Fischer.

A book that needs new a new cover as shown in Conservation. Picture taken by Hannah Fischer.

The original “Captain America” comic book in Conservation. Picture taken by Hannah Fischer.

The container for Captain America. Picture taken by Hannah Fischer.

A desktop setup in the Conservation Directorate. Picture taken by Hannah Fischer.

Library Tips II

We’re getting very close to the first day of the IFLA pre-conferences, and we couldn’t be more excited! We thought we would write up just a few more tips to help you navigate the Library of Congress during your visit here.

Prayer Room

There will be a prayer room available in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress during the pre-conferences. If you would like to make use of the room, please head over the the Coolidge Auditorium in the Jefferson Building (where most of the IFLA PARL events will be held) and ask one of the staff members associated with IFLA PARL for directions. The staff members will be wearing red ribbons on their name badges.

Luggage restrictions
Image from page 462 of “Camps in the Rockies : being a narrative of life on the frontier, and sport in the Rocky Mountains, with an account of the cattle ranches of the West, with illustrations, and an original map based on the most recent U.S. Government Survey,” Internet Archive Book Images, at

Don’t forget that you cannot bring large pieces of luggage into the Library of Congress! Suitcases and bags larger than 25″W x 15″H will not fit on the x-ray belts and are prohibited. Also, there is no coat- or luggage-check available at the Library. On the day you are planning to leave the pre-conferences, you may want to use the luggage-check at your hotel; you will then need to return to the hotel after leaving your pre-conference and before moving on to the next leg of your travel.

“James Madison Memorial Building (LM) Ground Floor (G),” Library of Congress website, at

Here is the Library of Congress website containing the floor plans of all three Library of Congress buildings, as well as online tours of the Jefferson , the Madison , and the Adams . The floor plan for the ground floor of the Madison building, for instance, is to the right.

Please let us know if you have any questions, or need any assistance in navigating the Library when you are here. We are looking forward to seeing you all!

Setting up Tours Around Capitol Hill

While visiting us in DC, you or anyone traveling with you will probably want to explore some of our notable landmarks. Some, like the monuments and can be memorable even without a guide. However, other sites either require setting up a tour or may be even more enjoyable with someone to provide background information and point out sites or stories you might not notice on your own.

U.S. Capitol
“View of the Capitol’s East Front Plaza,” U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center Photograph Downloads, at

If you want to tour the historical indoor areas of the Capitol beyond the Capitol Visitor Center , you’re required to reserve a guided tour . Since these tours can be in high demand, it’s a good idea to book in advance!

If you’re a U.S. Citizen, you can request a tour through the offices of your Representative or Senators . Offices sometimes offer staff-led tours, and work directly with local constituents to provide a tailored experience.

Anyone, including non-citizens, can reserve a tour through this online system , and if you’d like to reserve space for a group larger than 15, please use the group reservation system .

Even if you don’t pre-book, same-day tours are sometimes available, so stop by the Information Desk at the Visitor Center.

Be sure to check out the Capitol Visitor Center’s Plan a Visit site, which offers all the basic information – from visitor hours (Monday – Saturday 8:30am-4:30pm) to frequently asked questions (Tours are only offered in English, but visitors can request listening devices for some foreign-language versions . There are also brochures in a number of languages ).

Library of Congress
Picture taken by Anna Groves.

You’ll be spending a lot of time in the Library buildings throughout the pre-conference, but we hope you’ll also experience some of our history and collections through our tours!

For those who want to investigate on their own, we have brochures for self-guided visits in a number of languages . You also may enjoy our online tours before you arrive – then you’ll feel at home when you get here!

The Library offers daily tours without reservations at set times, so if you have a packed schedule feel free to drop in for a one hour tour. Other guided tours require reservations and are available as group tours by request. Be sure to check out the guidelines & tips before you tour the library.

Picture taken by Anna Groves.

We also have a number of reading rooms and exhibits you may want to visit. From the African & Middle Eastern Reading Room to the American Folklife Center , there are amazingly diverse collections to explore. Prior to visiting these specialized areas, please obtain a Library of Congress Registration Card . (You will need a government ID — either a driver’s license or a passport — to obtain the Registration Card.) It makes a fun souvenir! Family activities are also available, and you can check out our public events listing to learn about lectures, exhibits, concerts, and more!

Other D.C. Tours and Landmarks

When you have free time from our packed conferences, or while your accompanying person explores the city, we hope you will be able to experience some of the wonderful things our city has to offer! Below, we talk about a few sites that may be on your mind.

“Inside the White House,” the White House, at

Setting up a tour of the White House requires advance notice (no less than 21 days), so it may not be an option on this trip. U.S. citizens request White House tours through their individual Members of Congress, while citizens of foreign countries work with their embassies to submit a tour request. However, it can still be enjoyable to take a virtual tour or just walk by the exterior of the White House .

The Library’s next door neighbor is the Supreme Court , and you can stop by for a or also participate in docent-led “Courtroom Lectures,” 30 minute programs available Monday-Friday every half hour from 9:30am-3:30am. Before your trip, check out their helpful information on planning your visit . Translations of the visitor’s guides are available online .

Many museums and landmarks across the city offer free tours led by helpful docents, so check out the visitor’s information before you go. Also, many visitor and travel sites offer advice on free and paid tour options across the city.

Are there other DC spots you’re thinking of touring? Would you like to share advice with other attendees?

If so, please let us know in the comments below, or tweet us at #IFLAPREatLOC.

Many thanks to our intern, Anna Groves, who conducted extensive research for this post on security at the Library of Congress and beyond. Thanks, Anna!

When visiting the Library of Congress, it’s important to keep in mind that security protocols are fairly robust. To make sure you have an enjoyable and safe experience, here are some important tips to keep in mind:

Mike Monroney Astronomical Center, “Do You Know What is Considered a Weapon on the Aeronautical Center Premises?” at

To enter any of the buildings, you must pass through airport-like security.

  • Your bags will be scanned, and each person must pass through a metal detector. Put all phones, keys, and other metal items in your bag and place it on the x-ray belt before stepping through the metal detector.
  • Laptops must be removed from your bags and placed on the x-ray belt.
  • The Library prohibits weapons of any kind. These include, but are not limited to, firearms, explosives, knives, razors, and box-cutters.
  • No provisions are made for checking or holding prohibited items.
  • Suitcases and bags larger than 25″W x 15″H will not fit on the x-ray belts and are prohibited.
  • When passing through security, be patient. Lines can sometimes be long, but it is important to:
    • stay in orderly queues
    • keep conversations volumes low
    • follow the directions of the officers
    • do not crowd the personal space of any officer
  • If something on your clothing/person triggers the metal detector, simply follow the officer’s directions and you will be individually scanned with a hand-held wand. Visitors may request an officer of their own gender for this procedure if they wish.
  • In addition to entry checks, all bags and packages must be visually scanned when you exit the building. As you approach the exit, an officer will ask to view the contents of your bags. Have your bags open and ready in order to avoid holding up the exit line.

Other things to remember are:

  • No smoking except in designated areas outside of the buildings. (See for more information about smoking.)
  • Watch your step. Always use handrails when ascending and descending stairs, since some of the marble steps in the Jefferson building have been worn down over time and may be uneven.
  • Photography is allowed, however flash photography is prohibited in various areas as posted.
  • The use of photographic equipment, including tripods and selfie sticks, is prohibited. Please follow the Photography and Video Guidelines .

In the event of an emergency, move towards the nearest exit and follow police and emergency staff directions.

If you need to report an emergency, call 911 .

For tips on safely entering the United States, you may be interested in watching this Customs and Border Protection Video on things you need to know before you visit or another video on going through the immigration process as an international visitor . You can also contact the United States’ Transportation Security Administration via Facebook or Twitter.

From the Transportation Security Administration’s Instagram account.
From the Transportation Security Administration’s Instagram account.

For an international perspective on traveling to the U.S., you might want to take a look at the Canadian government page or the U.K. government page on United States travel tips.

We look forward to seeing you all safely in the United States!

Thanks so much to Jennifer Manning, our guest blogger for this post on navigating the Library of Congress buildings. Jennifer is a Senior Research Librarian at the Congressional Research Service in the Library of Congress, and has been very active on the planning committee for the IFLAPREatLOC pre-conferences. Thanks for all your insights, Jennifer!

Tip 1: Security

We will have an entire post on this topic in the coming weeks. Suffice it to say in the meantime that you can expect to go through security upon both entering and exiting Library of Congress buildings. On entering a Library of Congress building, you will go through a metal detector; please remove all metal items from your pockets (including your cell phone, keys, etc.), and place them on the conveyor belt. On exiting the building, the security officer will check any bags you may be carrying for Library materials. Please keep checking back at this blog for more information on security.

Tip 2: Photography
“Herbert G. Ponting and his camera,” Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection,

Photography is allowed in Library buildings, although flash photography is not allowed in some exhibits, to protect the objects from excessive light. Tripods and “selfie sticks” are prohibited in Library buildings (and many other D.C. museums as well).

Tip 3: Wifi

The Library buildings have a public wireless network (WiFi) called “LOCGUEST.” No password is required.

Tip 4: Smoking
Library of Congress.

Smoking is prohibited in Library of Congress buildings (and most government buildings and museums), including in interior courtyards and bathrooms. To smoke outside the building, you must go out, through security, and be more than 25 feet [7.6 metres] from the building entrance. The map to the right of this text is a map of the Library of Congress Campus; there are smoking tables set aside alongside the Madison building, on the corners of 1st Street SE & Independence Ave. SE and again at 2nd St. SE & Independence Ave. SE.

Tip 5: Air Conditioning
“Washington, D.C. Jewal Mazique [i.e. Jewel], worker at the Library of Congress, waiting for a streetcar on her way home from work,” Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection, at
Although Washington weather in August tends to be very hot and “muggy,” the air-conditioning inside buildings is very effective. Sometimes we find it TOO effective. Conference attendees, especially women wearing short sleeves or skirts, may wish to bring another layer of clothing, such as a shawl or jacket, in order to stay comfortable during sessions.

Are there any other topics on which you would like some tips?

If so, please let us know in the comments below, or tweet us at # .

Flags around Washington

The weather on the United States’ Independence Day – July 4th – was rainy and humid. Usually, the annual fireworks display on the National Mall is a spectacular culmination of the national holiday. This year, however, the weather blocked the view of the fireworks to such an extent that the national Public Broadcasting Station (PBS), which broadcasts the celebration annually, spliced in some stock footage of clearer, prettier July 4ths. (This resulted in a certain amount of controversy .) As the national capital, Washington, D.C. is a rather patriotic city with many displays of the U.S. flag – the star spangled banner – flying throughout it. Here are a few examples from across our region that you can see when you visit for .

The Capitol Building and Library of Congress / Photograph by Andrew Weber
The Marine Corps War Memorial AKA Iwo Jima / Photograph by Andrew Weber
The Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress / Photograph by Andrew Weber
Looking up at the Library of Congress Madison Building / Photograph by Andrew Weber
Half-Staff at the Supreme Court / Photograph by Andrew Weber
On the Field at Nationals Park / Photograph by Andrew Weber