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NLM Reading Rooms, Services, and Hours

There are two reading rooms open to the public at the National Library of Medicine (NLM); the Main Reading Room and History of Medicine Division (HMD) Reading Room. The Main Reading Room has an extensive reference collection. The General Collection has books (1914-present), journals and serials (1871-present), and audiovisual materials.

The HMD Reading Room has book-length material printed before 1914, thousands of pamphlets and dissertations (post-1914), and all pre-1871 journals. See the HMD Reading Room for additional information on services and materials available to the public.


Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

You can request materials from the General Collection for pick-up at the Information desk. Materials are delivered from 9:45 a.m. – 3:45 p.m.

The Reading Rooms are closed weekends and federal holidays. For special hours and emergency closings, call 1-888-FINDNLM (1-888-346-3656) or 301-594-5983. Check the OPM Operating Status for weather-related closings.

Directions, Parking, and Security

Please see the Directions and Parking Information page for information on visiting NLM.

Getting a Library Card and Requesting Library Materials

NLM's General Collection is in a staff-access only area. You can borrow up to 50 items at a time per day with a library card through LocatorPlus. If materials are in poor condition, we will provide a photocopy of the requested pages or you may be allowed to view the materials in the staff-access only area. You can register for a library card on-site by presenting a photo ID (i.e. a state driver's license, state ID, passport, U.S. Military ID, or University ID).

Scanning and Wi-Fi

High speed scanners and Wi-Fi are available for free.  You can use scanners only for NLM materials. The scanners shut down at 4:55 p.m.

  • You must bring a flash drive to save your scanned documents. We may impose time limits, so that others can also use the scanner.
  • We have one microfilm/microfiche reader-printer in the Main Reading Room.
  • You can log in to the NIH-Guest-Network Wi-Fi and click "Accept." After you log in, you can use "On-site Access Only" materials.

Conduct Policies

Please follow the conduct policies.


NLM supports the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Read more about the facility, collection access and use, and staff assistance for accessibility.