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Access Policy

The Research Library primarily serves the staff and resident Fellows of Dumbarton Oaks. We welcome applications from outside scholars and advanced graduate students who need access to the Library for their own research.

Applications for either Reader or Weekday Reader privileges are submitted electronically using the attached FORM.  Completed forms should be sent to at least one business day in advance of your desired start-date.  The library staff needs time to read the application and coordinate an appointment for ID badge production with our security department. One business day is usually sufficient, but we cannot guarantee next-day access.

All applicants who are not former Dumbarton Oaks Fellows should submit a letter of reference from a recognized authority in the relevant field at the time of application.

All readers are issued an electronic badge that serves as photo identification and must be worn when on Dumbarton Oaks property. A government-issued, photo ID with date of birth must be presented at the time a reader's badge is made. A valid Dumbarton Oaks badge is required to enter the Library.

First-time library users are required to have an orientation with a reference librarian immediately following photo ID badge production.  Orientation appointments are scheduled only at 10:00 AM on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays.

A limited number of reserve shelves are available for Readers and Weekday Readers. Please request an assigned shelf when applying for access.

Reader status

Reader status permits a scholar to use the Library during all open hours.  Reader status is usually granted for five years.  If an applicant does not meet the normal qualifications for Reader status, access for a shorter period may be granted at the librarians’ discretion.

To qualify, Reader applicants must be one of the following

  • Former Dumbarton Oaks Fellow
  • Scholar holding a doctorate in those subjects collected at Dumbarton Oaks (or an MA in Landscape Architecture)
  • Currently enrolled doctoral student who has satisfied all course requirements and is working on his or her dissertation
  • Spouse or partner of a current Fellow who possesses appropriate academic qualifications in his or her own right

Weekday Reader status

Weekday Reader status permits use of the Library's collections Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Approval is generally good for a short period of time; renewal requests are considered on a case-by-case basis.

To qualify, applicants must be one of the following

  • Doctoral student not yet writing his or her dissertation
  • Master's candidate who demonstrates a scholarly need to use materials not held in other libraries in the Washington, DC area

Short-term Access

Those who do not meet the criteria for either category of reader may request special consideration for short-term access to the collections by explaining their needs in detail on the application form. Please provide titles and call numbers of those books at Dumbarton Oaks that cannot be found in other Washington DC libraries.  A letter of reference is required.

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Research Library General Collection Hours

For scholars with
Monday to Friday
8:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday
9:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.

For scholars with
Weekday Reader
Monday to Friday
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Holiday Closures for 2014–15
December 25, 2014
January 1
July 4
September 7
November 26
December 25

Rare Book
Collection Hours