For those individuals researching a specific project but needing basic information to get started, there is the Library of Congress Information System, made up of two computerized catalogue systems: SCORPIO (Subject-Content Oriented Retriever for Processing Information On-Line) and MUMS (Multiple Use MARC -- Machine Readable Catalog -- System). Both can find books catalogued since 1968, pre-1968 acquisitions including maps and music, and pre-1973 serials (magazines and newspapers).

On command, SCORPIO roots through nearly 10 million records to prepare a list by subject, title or author. It will not only display the list, but it will also provide a brief synopsis of an item and print it all out -- for free. Another talent is its ability to search for six different topics simultaneously. And SCORPIO can restrict searches, for example, by year or language -- such as French editions only.

MUMS lists a broader range of serials than SCORPIO, including collections in other major research libraries and information on some newer, but not yet available, books either on order or still being catalogued. MUMS also has more extensive map and music files.

Beginner and advanced classes in both systems are available on a sign-up basis at the Computer Catalog Center near the Main Reading Room.

Readers who cannot do research on their own can, for a fee, have a bibliographic listing prepared by the library cataloguing distribution service. For information: Customer Services Section, Cataloging Distribution Service, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20541.