Visitor information

This page will give you brief information about:

The Gallaudet University Library, located in the Merrill Learning Center, has approximately 260,000 books, more than 8,000 videos, and more than 2,000 current periodical subscriptions. All of these collections are available for public use here on campus. Students who are registered for courses lasting at least two weeks may borrow circulating materials from the Library.

The Library has the largest collection of deaf-related materials in the world, including books, videos and other types of media materials, periodicals, and the University Archives. Many of these items are cataloged in the Library's ALADIN computer system. Staff at the Reference Desk provide training and assistance in using ALADIN, and instructional handouts are available there. Please ask the reference staff for assistance any time.

The Library's deaf-related materials can all be found on the first floor of the Merrill Learning Center. ALADIN records include location and status information, which indicate the availability of specific items.

Most deaf-related periodicals are in the Deaf Periodicals area on the Middle Level near the public computers, although heavily used titles may be on reserve at the Circulation Desk.

The Deaf Stacks (circulating books) are on the first floor; the Archives are on the Lower Level.

Library policy states that we will purchase at least two copies of all deaf-related books and media. One copy of each is shelved in the Deaf Copy One room, a locked room that only Library staff may enter. If you wish to use an item whose only available location is Deaf Copy One, you must fill out a request form at the Reference Desk. When staff have retrieved the book for you, you will be permitted to use it only in the Library.

There are several ways to perform research using ALADIN while off-campus.

  • You may access our online catalog through the Internet.
    1. Visit ALADIN.
    2. You will see a log in screen.
    3. Look above the log-in area and to the left -- there will be a link to "ALADIN Catalog."
    4. Clicking this link will enable you to search our Catalog without logging in.
    5. Note: This will not permit you to use our databases or e-Journal subscriptions! Accessed in this way, ALADIN becomes read-only -- you may look at the records for items in our collection, but nothing else.
  • You may call or write to us with requests for brief information.
  • You may also find a surprising amount of information in your local libraries, and you may arrange to borrow books from us through your local library through inter-library loan.

A search screen will appear when you have successfully passed the log-in page. There are many different ways to search: by author, by title, etc. If you are searching for information about a particular topic, it will probably be best for you to do an Advanced Search.

Read the instructions on the screens. Instructions are often updated or changed, so read them each time you log on.

The results list for your search will show you book titles, publication dates, and owning libraries. The symbol for items owned by the Gallaudet University Library is GA. It is possible to limit the results of your search to Gallaudet (or another WRLC university) only by changing the drop-down menu labeled Limit by Location.

The Gallaudet University Library offers limited reference service to off-campus persons. By phone we can give very brief information about which books and journals we own. If you call on the voice phone, you will probably get an answering machine, since many of our staff are deaf. You will probably be more likely to reach a person by calling our TTY number (to do this, you must use a TTY or a relay service). Either way, if you do get an answering machine, please be sure to state your full name, phone number, and a brief description of the information you need. Our first priority is service to members of the Gallaudet community, but we will return your call as soon as possible.

The Reference Desk phone numbers are:

  • (202) 651-5217 (Voice)
  • (866) 957-4416 (Videophone)

Gallaudet University Library staff will attempt to answer more in-depth questions by mail or email. Again, since our first priority is service to members of the Gallaudet community, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to answer questions in a particular time period.

Please be sure to include your full name, address, daytime phone number, email address, and a specific description of the information you are seeking.

Please address letter inquiries to:

Laura Jacobi
Manager, Instruction & Reference Services
Gallaudet University Library
800 Florida Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002

Please address email inquiries to:

Your local public, college, or university library can be a good source of information on deafness and sign language. Most large libraries have several books on deafness, including the very helpful Gallaudet Encyclopedia of Deaf People and Deafness. If you are not formally enrolled in college courses, you can probably still use materials in your local community college or university library, which may be open to the public.

Ask your librarian for help. He or she can offer the best advice on finding information locally.

If your library does not have a book you need, ask the librarian to try to borrow it through a process called "inter-library loan" (more detailed information follows). The book may be available in another library in your area. If not, we may be able to lend it to your library for you.

Don't limit your search to information in books. Here is a list of indexes to periodical articles that we frequently use; they are available in most university libraries:

  • ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center)
  • Psychological Abstracts
  • Social Work Abstracts
  • Medline
  • Exceptional Child Education Resources

In addition, the three most commonly-used academic journals relating to deafness are:

  • American Annals for the Deaf
  • Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
  • Sign Language Studies

Also, general newspaper and magazine indexes sometimes include deaf-related articles, and your library may have many of these indexes.

If you think your library's collection of deaf-related materials is not adequate, there are ways to try to improve it. Keep in mind that libraries must divide their resources among the needs of the entire community, and this is hard to do in an era of budget cutbacks. However, most librarians are eager to buy materials that they know will be used.

Here are some steps to take:

  • Make suggestions for specific titles. Most libraries have "suggestion for purchase" forms that are easy to complete.
  • Talk to the librarians about your interests.
  • Encourage your deaf friends to make themselves known by becoming regular library users -- borrowing books and attending library programs.
  • Most libraries have "Friends of the Library" groups that are leaders in community outreach and fund-raising. Join your Friends group or start one.
  • Volunteer your services. Offer to present a program on some aspect of Deaf Culture.
  • Donate books and videos that are current and in good condition to the library.

If your local libraries do not have a book, you may still be able to get a copy. Ask your librarian to try to borrow it for you through a process called inter-library loan (ILL). Your library will send out a request to libraries that own the item, and one of these libraries may lend it to your library. Then you can borrow it from and return it to your library. Most libraries will not lend magazines and journals, but sometimes they can send photocopies of articles instead. This process normally takes at least one week, and sometimes much longer. There may be a charge for this service.

Your library probably has an established ILL procedure and may be able to find deaf-related items closer to home than Gallaudet.

Gallaudet University Library will not lend non-circulating materials, such as Deaf Copy One books and videos. We will lend other books if they are available.

The Gallaudet University Bookstore sells many books, videotapes, and other materials about deaf-related topics. If you are interested in purchasing some of these materials or receiving a catalog from the Bookstore, you can contact them directly at 202-651-5876 (TDD), and 202-651-5271 (Voice). In addition, their Web site is available at the Bison Shop.

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Prepared by Information Services Librarians
May, 1996

Revised by James McCarthy
Instruction & Reference Librarian
May, 2009

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