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Visit: Plan Onsite Research

Reading Rooms Are Temporarily Closed

Due to COVID-19, the National Library of Medicine Reading Room remains closed to the public until further notice.

During this period, NLM online resources will remain available, including NLM Digital Collections and PubMed Central.

NLM will continue to provide interlibrary loan (ILL) services. For latest NLM ILL service information check this website:

NLM History of Medicine Division staff are working remotely to support YOU in your research
and can be reached through the NLM Support Center via the “Write to the Help Desk” blue button.

Historical material may be consulted in the History of Medicine Reading Room between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST Monday through Friday, except for Federal holidays. The last retrieval from the stacks is at 3:00 p.m.

Get a Library Card

To use NLM collections, you must have a library card. You can register for a library card on-site in the Library’s Main Reading Room by presenting a photo ID (i.e. a state driver’s license, state ID, passport, U.S. Military ID, or University ID). To use historical collections you must also register in the History of Medicine Reading Room.

Request and Pick up Historical Materials

When you are onsite, use your library card to request material through the library catalog, LocatorPlus, at terminals in the Reading Room or the or through your own device via our wireless network. The catalog can be consulted remotely, but materials can only be requested while onsite.

History of Medicine staff retrieves historical material from the stacks five times a day at 9:30, 10:30, 11:30 a.m. and at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. Monday–Friday. Pick up historical material in the History of Medicine Reading Room. Historical material may not be taken out of the History of Medicine Reading Room. Books published after 1913 and journals after 1870 are retrieved in the Main Reading Room.

Before You Visit

You can save time by doing the following:

  • Search the Library’s online catalogs and print a list of material to consult before coming to the Library.
  • Review the Information for Readers document which includes a Registration Form that you will be asked to fill out on arrival.
  • Review the Visit page for directions, hours, parking, and important security information.
  • Check the OPM Operating Status for weather-related closings.
  • Be aware of the retrieval times. Plan your arrival accordingly, leaving time to register, search, and submit requests before the last retrieval at 3:00.
  • Also be aware that some materials, particularly manuscript and film materials, may be stored offsite and require up to a month advance notice to retrieve.
  • Minimize bags and luggage. You will need to store any coats and bags in provided lockers while working in the History of Medicine Reading Room. Security will check all bags on leaving the Library.
  • The Library provides terminals for catalog research and requesting, but you are welcome to bring your own laptop and other electronic research tools. Cameras may be used without flash. Handheld scanners are not permitted. A book scanner is available; images may be downloaded to a USB flashdrive.
  • Browse our FAQs to find answers to frequently asked questions.
  • For additional questions, Ask a Reference Librarian.

Last Reviewed: August 30, 2021