So you've just moved to town, and you're lost? Confused? Uncertain who's in charge or whom to call?

Looking for a restaurant? School? Agency head? Nearby Civil War sites? Got a great little project in need of funding? Wondering what your senator looks like?

To help bewildered newcomers orient themselves in the Capital area, here is a list of at least 76 guides, culled from recommendations of a dozen city experts. The resources are, of course, also handy for old-timers. (In Washington you are an old-timer in six months.)

Many of these titles (including a few that threaten to go out of print) can be found in local libraries, particularly the Washingtoniana Room of the Martin Luther King Library (the main branch of the District of Columbia public library system). Many are updated regularly, so when you order, ask if a revised edition is scheduled soon. Digging In

Genealogical Research in the National Archives ($17 and $21 from National Archives Trust Fund Board, Box 302, National Archives, Washington, D.C. 20408); Lest We Forget: A Guide to Genealogical Research in the Nation's Capital ($7 from Lest We Forget, Church of the Latter Day Saints, P.O. Box 89, Annandale, Va. 22003). The what, where and how of tracing your local roots.

GW Washington Studies, a series of city studies. Book No. 8, for example, has intriguing descriptions of books about Washington--including novels we never heard of--and of major Washingtoniana collections. ($6 from Center for Washington Area Studies, George Washington University, Academic Center, T106, Washington, D.C. 20052.)

Information U.S.A., by Matthew Lesko (Viking hardcover $41.75; Penguin, $19.95). A fat guide to government sources of information on countless subjects, with a long list of useful names, addresses and phone numbers. (An earlier Lesko title: Getting Yours: The Complete Guide to Government Money, Penguin, $5.95.)

Library and Reference Facilities in the Area of the District of Columbia, 11th edition, edited by Margaret S. Jennings ($39.50 plus $1.50 postage from Knowledge Industry Publications, Inc., 701 Westchester Ave. White Plains, N.Y. 10604). Super-useful guide to hundreds of general and specialized libraries in the capital area. The Smithsonian and Library of Congress also publish guides to their special libraries and resources.

Scholars' Guides to Washington, subjects in this Smithsonian Institution Press series include regional studies and film and video collections.

A Writer's Guide to Washington (published by Washington Independent Writers, $7.95). An excellent new guide to the capital's information resources, whether you are a writer, researcher or merely curious. At bookstores or from WIW, 525 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045. The Power Network

Capitol Jobs: An Insider's Guide to Finding a Job in Congress, by Kerry Dumbaugh and Gary Serota (Tilden Press, $5.95). Well-thumbed this year.

Congressional Directory (Government Printing Office, $11 and up from government bookstores). A standard government guide to who's who on the Hill, published every two years.

Congressional Staff Directory and Federal Staff Directory ($30 each from CST Ltd., Box 62, Mt. Vernon, Va. 22121). Biographical information on congressional staff members and various federal agencies--the workers behind the headlines. Telephone directories for various branches of the federal government (including NASA and the Department of Defense) also available from the Government Printing Office.

Council of the District of Columbia: Owner's Manual, free from the D.C. City Council Secretary, District Building, 14th and E streets NW, Room 101 (724-8080).

The Diplomatic List, a GPO quarterly listing diplomats in the Washington area ($12 a year).

The Directory of Key Government Personnel, a handy pocket-sized guide to over 2,000 government decision-makers, available free (you provide the 5x7 envelope) from Hill and Knowlton, 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20004. ($4 charge for extra copies for individuals not affiliated with either the government or the media.)

Encyclopedia of Associations, Gale Research Co. ($135, available in many libraries).

The Foundation Directory, from The Foundation Center ($60). Practical details (including grant-application information) about several thousand major foundations.

Know the District of Columbia ($3, plus $1 for postage, if mailed). D.C. League of Women Voters, 1346 Connecticut Ave. NW (785-2616). Solid and useful. Their "Facts for Citizens" pamphlet is a handy list of names and numbers, ranging from D.C.'s delegate to Congress to the number to call about dog licenses. (25 cents a copy, plus 20 cents postage).

National Trade & Professional Associations of the United States (Columbia Books, $40). Cross-referenced listings for 6,000 business, labor and professional organizations.

The Pictorial Congressional District (GPO, $6), photos of senators and representatives.

The United States Government Manual (GPO, $9). The who, where and why of government agencies.

The U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual, the official guide to federalspeak. Revised edition (incorporating computerese) due this fall.

Washington Information Directory (published annually by Congressional Quarterly, $27.50). Lists over 5,000 information sources in Congress, the Executive Branch and private associations, grouped by subject (e.g., equal rights, national security).

Washington Lobbyists and Lawyers Directory (originally compiled and published by investigative reporter Edward Zuckerman). Available this year (for $45) from Communications Services, Inc., 121 4th St. SE, Washington, D.C. 20003 (544-8792). 1983 edition due out late September.

Washington Representatives (Columbia Books, $40). Lists 9,000 officially registered lobbyists, foreign agents and special-interest reps (cross-referenced to clients and areas of concern).

Washington Women: A Directory of Women and Women's Organizations in the National Capital, by the Federation of Organizations for Professional Women, 1825 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009 (328-1415). Updated version before new year. Media and Creative Arts

Directory of Washington Creative Services. An advertiser-supported guide to suppliers of audio-visual, broadcast, print, written, graphic, photographic and other advertising-related creative services.

Hudson's Washington Directory ($75). Lists the Washington press corps, the Bible for local publicists. More national in focus than Media Factbook.

Media Factbook, published by United Way ($9 from Communications Department, United Way, 95 M St. SW, Room 306, Washington D.C. 20024). An excellent guide to local media, especially for local organizations.

Pictorial Resources in the Washington, D.C., Area by Shirley L. Green and Diane Hamilton (Library of Congress, 1976, $5.75 plus $2 handling). Where to find photos and artwork.

Washington Cultural Directory: A Guide to the Arts and Artists of Metropolitan Washington, by the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington, 633 E St. NW, Washington D.C. 20004 ($8.95, $7.95 if you pick it up). Describes over 400 organizations and 600 individuals.

The Washington, D.C., Art Review: The Art Explorer's Guide to Washington, by Frank Getlein and Jo Ann Lewis (Vanguard Press, $8.95). Describes 16 museums and 70 galleries.

Washington Independent Writers Directory of Members. Directory of free-lance writers cross-referenced with specialties ($12.95 from WIW, 525 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045, 347-4973). Commerce and Real Estate

Apartment Shoppers Guide and House and Condo Shopper's Guide (available free at Peoples Drug Store or by calling 363-8077). Other freebies available all over town: New Homes Guide and Condo Guide.

Black's Office Space Guide to the Baltimore/Washington Market ($25). Leasing information on 1,250 office buildings.

Contacts Influential, database/directory of information on local businesses ($400-$500 per subscription, or take a free peek in Washingtoniana Room of Martin Luther King Library).

Lusk's D.C. Real Estate Directory Service, an expensive service listing the who, what, when, where and how much (including the size of your neighbor's mortgage) of property transactions. Lusk's assessment directory gives the assessed value and owner of all District property. You can find the Lusk guides in the Washingtoniana Room of the Martin Luther King Library. For Consumers

Best Restaurants (& Others), Washington, D.C. and Environs by Phyllis C. Richman (101 Productions, $4.95).

Inflation Fighter's Guide to Best Buys in the Washington Metro Area by Andrea Lubershane and Erik Kanin (Andrik Associates, $6.95). A wide range of shopping information plus tips on local legal and medical services and entertainment (including which movie houses offer senior citizen discounts and twilight bargains).

Night Life Wash. D.C. & Metro Area, by John R.H. Cotter and staff ($3.95). A guide to nightclubs and other diversions for night owls.

Open University, schedule of imaginative, low-cost classes, popular with singles. A $10 evening with Alex Fraser, for example, buys you three hours of advice on where people are and how to meet them, plus a booklet listing over 800 clubs, groups and organizations to get you going (966-9606).

Pathways, Yes! quarterly of useful "new age" listings of goods and services ranging from holistic health and natural foods to natal charts and yoga, available free at most health food stores. Yes! Bookstore in Georgetown, a resource itself.

Washington Consumers' Checkbook, consumer magazine rates local service firms for price and quality ($18 a year payable to Checkbook, 1518 K St. NW, Suite 406, D.C. 20005). Back issues, $4.95 each.

The Washington Theatre Guide, seating plans for Washington's theaters ($2, available among others places, at Backstage theater-arts bookstore, 21st and P, and the Newsroom, Connecticut Avenue and S Street, a place for home-town and foreign newspapers). Children and Health Care

Going Places with Children in Washington, ed. by Katherine S. Tippett and E. Susan Parsons (Green Acres School, $4.95). A must for parents.

Handbook for Helping Your Learning Disabled Child in the District of Columbia, directory of resources ($3.50 from the D.C. Association for Children with Learning Disabilities, Box 6350, Washington D.C. 20015, 244-5177).

Independent School Guide: Washington, D.C. and Surrounding Area ($8.50, available at Cheshire Cat Bookstore or call 652-8635 or 986-0698). Information about local private schools.

The Metropolitan Washington Area Directory of Children's Services, by Carolyn Aldrich (Camal Enterprises, $7.95). Child care, camps, schools, special services, childbirth, adoption, etc.

A Quick Guide to Child Care in Montgomery County ($2.50 from Working Mothers Resource Group, 15005 Emory Lane, Rockville, Md. 20853). Brief guides like this, and a free list of child-care providers published by the D.C. Department of Human Services can be found in most public libraries.

So You're Pregnant: A Directory of Services for the Washington Metropolitan Area, by Barbara Porter and Kathleen Hacket ($4.95; expanded edition now going to press, $6.95), from the authors at 2407 59th Pl., Cheverly, Md. 20785. Getting Around

Access Washington: A Guide to Metropolitan Washington for the Physically Disabled ($1, plus 63 cents postage) from the Information Center for Handicapped Individuals, 605 G St. NW, Suite 202, Washington, D.C 20001, 347-4986.

D.C. Department of Transportation, publishes enormous map of the metropolitan area, free, if picked up at the Washington Tourist Information Center, Great Hall of U.S. Commerce Building, 1400 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington D.C.

The Flashmaps Instant Guide to Washington ($2.95) includes 46 maps showing Metro routes, hotels, museums, etc.

Maps of the Metrobus system, ($1) at drugstores and the Metro offices, 600 Fifth St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001.

Washington One-Day Trips ($4.95); One-Day Trips Through History: 200 Excursions Within 150 Miles of Washington, D.C. ($9.95); One-Day Trips to Beauty and Bounty ($8.95), year-round guide to more than 150 farms, gardens and other natural attractions (out in October), all by Jane Ockershausen Smith and published by EPM.

Weekenders Guide to the Four Seasons, by Robert Shosteck, (Potomac Books, Inc., $7.95), an informative guide to what's happening by season and region nearby, with phone numbers for everything from horse events to hot-air ballooning.

The Great Weekend Escape Book, from Williamsburg to Cuttyhunk Island, by Michael Spring (Dutton, $8.95). Capital Highlights

City of Trees, by Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Polly Alexander (Acropolis, $24.95, a guide to the capital's trees).

Finding Birds in the National Capital Area, by Claudia Wilds (Smithsonian Institution Press, $10.95).

The Greater Washington Area Bicycle Atlas, by Alan Berkowitz and Dave Gilbert ($4.95 from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, 1332 Eye St. NW, D.C. 20005).

Natural Washington, by Bill and Phyllis Thomas (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, $6.95) parks, gardens, trails and other wild places within a 50-mile radius.

The Walker Washington Guide, by John and Katharine Walker (Guide Press, $4.95).

The Washington Post Guide to Washington (McGraw-Hill, $5.95).

Washington Itself, by E.J. Applewhite (Knopf, $15.50).

I Love Washington Guide, by Marilyn J. Appleberg (Collier, $4.95).

Washington, D.C., by Judy Duffield, William Kramer and Cynthia Sheppard (Random House, $6.95).

Washington on Foot, edited by Allan and Carol Hodges (Smithsonian, $6.95).

The Outdoor Sculptures of Washington, D.C., by James M. Goode (Smithsonian, $15, and $8.95). Hot Off the Presses

Call It Delmarvalous, by Virginia Tanzer (EPM, $7.95). How to talk, eat, and chuckle as you head across the Chesapeake to the beaches.

500 Things To Do in Washington for Free (New Century Publishers, $5.95).

Footnote Washington, by Bryson B. Rash (EPM, $7.95), tidbits for the "I didn't know that" crowd.

Glimpses of Georgetown, by Mary Miller ($12.50 at Book Annex). Includes an informative short introduction for people who take walks through Georgetown seriously.

And if you don't find what you need here, take a look at the Directory of Directories, available in many libraries.

Former newcomer Pat McNees is now collecting information for a foodshopper's guide to Washington.