Conducting Research in the Folger Shakespeare Library

Folger Shakespeare Library

The Folger Shakespeare Library holds not only rare editions of Shakespeare plays, but also a wealth of documents on Renaissance and Early Modern Great Britain and Europe.  More information can be found at the Library’s website, including current exhibits and theater productions.

The Library is located on 201 East Capitol Street SE, near the Capitol building and the Library of Congress.

Getting There

The Folger Shakespeare Library can be easily reached by the Metro (subway).  It is closest to the Capitol South stop on the Blue/Orange/Silver line.  After exiting the escalator, continue forward (north), past the Library of Congress, then take a right (east) onto East Capitol St.  The Library will be ahead on the right.  Also nearby is the Union Station stop on the Red line.  After exiting Union Station, take a left (southeast) onto Massachusetts Avenue, then a right (south) onto 2nd St NE.  The Library will be ahead on the left.  More information can be found on the Metro map.

There is no public parking at the Library, except for three handicapped spots.  Street and metered parking is limited to two hours.  The closest large parking garage is at Union Station, accessible from H St NE.   From Union Station, it is a 7 block walk: take a left (southeast) onto Massachusetts Avenue, then a right (south) onto 2nd St NE.

The building is open Monday-Saturday, 10:00am-5:00pm (8:00pm during the summer) and Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm.  It is open every day except Thanksgiving Day and December 25.

Prepare in Advance

The Library has a large collection, so it is important to have an idea what you are looking for beforehand.  There is an online catalog, as well as a Digital Image collection.  Other online resources can be found here.  You can also contact a librarian about a specific question or document.  Contact information can be found on the AHA Wiki.

Reader Identification Card

Reader Cards are necessary in order to research in the Reading Room.  There are two types.  The Regular Reader Card is available to college faculty, PhD’s and PhD candidates, and librarians.  To obtain one, send 1 recommendation from a colleague to  A Regular Reader Card must be renewed yearly.

The other type is a Special Permission Reader Card, available to everyone else, including graduate and undergraduate students, teachers, writers, etc.  Send a letter outlining your current project as well as past work, along with 2 recommendations, to  A Special Permission Reader Card is issued for a certain length of time, depending on each individual case.

Both cards must be worn at all times when using the Library.

Reading Room

There is one Reading Room at the Folger Shakespeare Library.  General policy guidelines can be found here.  The hours are different than regular building hours: Monday—Friday: 8:45am – 4:45pm; Saturday: 9:00am – noon, 1:00pm – 4:30pm.  The Reading Room and Folger offices are closed on Federal holidays.

Where to Eat and Where to Stay

The Library is located in Capitol Hill, and places to eat are abundant.  A number of places are south of the Library on Pennsylvania Avenue, north at Union Station, or a short walk southeast at Eastern Market.

Hotels around Capitol Hill are hard to get into and expensive, but Folger does provide housing for researchers.  Information on how to request temporary housing can be found here.