The Museum’s National Institute for Holocaust Documentation preserves and makes available to the public the historical record of the Holocaust and supports the Museum’s wide-ranging efforts in the areas of research, exhibition, publication, education, and commemoration.
Reading Room Policies
Because of the special nature of materials in the collections, patrons are asked to observe the following policies and procedures.
Beginning August 31, 2021, as part of a pilot program to provide safe access to Museum archival and special collections, the Reading Room at the David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Maryland will open to researchers on a limited basis (two days a week with a maximum of 6 researchers at a time in the Reading Room). 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. The Museum’s Fifth Floor Reading Room remains closed until further notice. 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
Beginning August 31, 2021, the Shapell Center Reading Room is open to the public on Tuesdays and Fridays. During this pilot phase, 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 for the period between the sessions for researchers who have reservations in both sessions. During the pilot phase, researchers will be restricted to no more than four sessions, or two full days, in any two-week period. Research slots are currently available through Tuesday, November 30. Researchers interested in visiting the Shapell Center after November 30 are advised to check back on this page by mid-November for future appointments.
All visitors to the Shapell Center must make an appointment and request materials at least seven days in advance. Due to Museum safety and social distancing requirements, 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 they have received confirmation from the Reference team about their appointment(s). At this time, due to public health safety concerns the Museum cannot accommodate groups wishing to conduct group research using Museum collections.
To initiate an appointment request, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your preferred research dates, along with your preference for a morning and/or afternoon research session(s). Appointment requests will be handled in the order they are received.
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 must be requested at least seven days before your scheduled and confirmed research appointment. Once your appointment has been confirmed, you will receive further instructions for how to select and reserve material through the Museum’s online system. 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. Materials cataloged as objects will not be accessible during the pilot phase.
In order to examine archival collections, researchers are required to complete the researcher registration. Valid government-issued photo identification is required upon arrival at the Shapell Center. 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 indicate so when making their reservation. The Museum provides one morning shuttle from the New Carrollton Metro station and an afternoon shuttle from the Shapell Center back to the New Carrollton 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
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.
All relevant guidelines from the Museum’s Visitor Guidelines and Safety Measures apply to the Shapell Center, including:
- Visitors are required to wear a face covering (mask) at all times except when eating or drinking in a designated area
- Visitors must answer health screening questions before being granted access to the building
- Visitors must maintain social distance at all times
Copying, Scanning, and Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi–enabled network to support your research needs. Additionally, scanning stations are provided for use with paper-based materials.
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.
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.