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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 scholarly research.

Applications for Reader's privileges are submitted electronically using the attached FORM.  Completed forms should be sent to at least one week in advance of your desired start-date.

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 appointment with Security and an orientation with a reference librarian. These appointments are scheduled only at 10:00 AM on Mondays and Thursdays (except Federal Holidays) after the application form is approved. 

A limited number of reserve shelves are available for 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. 

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 MLA 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

Short-term Access

If an applicant does not meet the normal qualifications for Reader status, access for a shorter period may be granted at the librarians’ discretion. Applicants asking for special consideration must supply a letter of reference and demonstrate a strong need for access by providing titles and call numbers of those books at Dumbarton Oaks that cannot be found in other Washington DC libraries, such as the Library of Congress. 

  • 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
  • Independent scholars who are preparing a scholarly publication related to one of the subject fields.

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Research Library General Collection Hours

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

Holiday Closures for 2016-17
September 5, 2016
November 24
December 25
January 1, 2017
July 4
Rare Book Collection Hours