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The Museum is open on a limited basis with new visitor requirements and safety measures in place. Free timed-entry tickets are required for entry.

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How to Conduct Research in the Holdings of the Library and Archives 

Reading Room Policies

Reading Room Policies

Because of the special nature of materials in the collections, patrons are asked to observe the following policies and procedures.

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The Museum’s David M. Rubenstein National Institute for Holocaust Documentation acquires, preserves, and makes accessible the historical record of the Holocaust and supports the Museum’s wide-ranging efforts in the areas of research, exhibition, publication, education, and memorialization.

Many digitized materials are available through the Museum's Collections Search. In addition to online resources, we now make available to the public archival and print resources in the Reading Room of the David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Maryland, while continuing to observe public safety and health protocols. At least a week prior to your research visit, you will need to reserve a seat in the Reading Room and pre-order your research materials. 

On this page you will learn about how to plan your visit and prepare for conducting research in the Shapell Center Reading Room.  If you are interested in remote research assistance, or cannot plan a visit to the Shapell Center, please search in our online tools and then consider asking for assistance.

Hours and Appointments

The Shapell Center Reading Room is open to the public four days a week for research on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, for a limited number of researchers. All visitors must abide by Museum safety measures based on CDC COVID-19 Community Levels. These safety measures may be adjusted to reflect changes in the community risk level.

All visitors to the Shapell Center must first register in the Collections Request system before making an appointment. Appointments must be made at least seven days in advance, and are available for 60 days into the future.

Researchers can make appointments for morning (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and/or afternoon (2 p.m. to 5 p.m.) research sessions. Researchers wishing to stay the whole day are required to reserve both morning and afternoon sessions. The Reading Room will remain open midday for the period between the sessions for researchers who have reservations in both sessions.

The number of available seats for each research session is strictly limited, and appointments may fill up quickly. Researchers should not finalize any plans until appointments have been confirmed. At this time, due to public health safety concerns, the Museum cannot accommodate groups wishing to conduct group research using Museum collections.

Researchers are encouraged to contact the Reference Desk at reference@ushmm.org for assistance.

*The reading room on the fifth floor of the Museum remains closed to the public until further notice.

Before You Arrive

Search Online and Reserve Materials

The Museum’s online catalog provides access to many digitized collections available to you remotely from your personal computer.

All materials for on-site research must be requested at least seven days before your scheduled and confirmed research appointment. Once your appointment has been confirmed, you can request materials for consultation directly from the online catalog. Please note that only archival materials, including original documents, digitized documents, and microfilmed archival collections may be requested. Rare books and Library special collections are housed at the Shapell Center and may also be requested. Due to currently limited on-site staffing, materials cataloged as objects, including artifacts and other realia, are temporarily unavailable for in-person research. We are hopeful they can be made available for on-site research in the fall.

Researcher Registration

In order to examine archival collections, researchers are required to complete the researcher registration process. Researchers should review the reading room policies prior to registration.

Transportation and Building Access

Once you have a confirmed appointment, details about how to access the Shapell Center will be provided. Street parking is available. Researchers requiring accessible parking should contact the reference team prior to their visit. The Museum provides one morning shuttle from the Morgan Boulevard Metro station and an afternoon shuttle from the Shapell Center back to the Morgan Boulevard Metro station; researchers with confirmed research appointments will be provided with instructions for reserving a seat on the shuttle.

Please bring a government issued photo identification, which will be necessary to gain building access, whether arriving by shuttle or private vehicle.

During Your Visit

Facilities

The Museum provides lockers for personal belongings. Lunch room facilities with refrigerator, microwave, and vending machines are provided. Food and drinks may not be consumed in the Reading Room.

Safety precautions

All relevant guidelines from the Museum’s Visitor Guidelines and Safety Measures apply to the Shapell Center.

Copying, Scanning, and WiFi Options

All microform stations are enabled with scanners that create digital copies of materials rather than paper-based photocopies. The Museum will provide portable USB storage devices for patrons. Personal laptop computers and cameras are welcome, and the Museum provides a WiFi–enabled network to support your research needs. Additionally, scanning stations are provided for use with paper-based materials.

Duplication Services

Those interested should contact staff to make arrangements, or see Rights and Reproductions.

Circulation and Inter-Library Loan

The Library and Archives are set up primarily to support on-site research. Consequently, Library and Archives materials do not circulate to the public, nor can they be loaned via inter-library loan. Please contact your local librarian to determine another source for the published items you are seeking or contact a member of our reference staff for assistance with finding a particular item from our holdings.

Family History and Genealogy

There is no single list of Holocaust victims or survivors; tracing an individual through the Holocaust is a process of piecing together bits of information from a variety of sources. When available, the name of the town in which a particular individual resided prior to the war provides the most fruitful entry point to the available resources and can indicate the proper sources or existing records. Please contact the Museum’s Holocaust Survivors and Victims Resource Center to seek information about individual victims or survivors in order to trace their history.

After Your Visit

How to Cite Museum Resources

To assist researchers in providing appropriate and adequate references and citations to Museum materials reviewed by researchers, we have created a detailed page of guidance on citations.

Patron Feedback

Researchers who access the Library and Archives reading rooms represent one of the Museum’s key constituencies and your insight and feedback provide valuable guidance to the services we provide. If you have recently conducted research on-site, please take a few moments to complete the reading room survey.