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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.

< Visit the Library and Archives

Reading Room Policies


The US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Library and Archives Reading Room 

The Shapell Center Reading Room is open to the public for archival and rare book research by appointment only on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. See the Visit the Library and Archives page for more information. The Museum’s Fifth Floor Reading Room remains closed until further notice.

Museum staff are available to assist you with research questions. Ask a question.


Because of the special nature of materials in the collections and the safety protocols related to Covid-19, patrons are asked to observe the following policies and procedures:

Registration, Arrival, Conduct, and Departure

  1. For enhanced safety of staff and researchers, the following requirements are in place:
    • On-site reference services are available by appointment only.
    • Upon arrival, please check in at the reference desk.
    • Face coverings are required for visitors.
    • Patrons must maintain a safe social distance from the staff and each other.
    • Work stations are limited for social distancing purposes.
    • Observe instructions from staff on picking up, handling, and returning materials, and on handling equipment.
  2. In order to examine archival collections and to access published materials, patrons are required to complete the researcher registration.
  3. Personal electronic devices (e.g., laptops, digital cameras, mobile devices) may be used in the Reading Rooms. All devices should be silenced. Phone conversations are not permitted. WiFi is available—check with Reading Room staff for login credentials. Staff may not be able to provide technical assistance with personal devices.
  4. Food and drink may not be consumed or brought into the Reading Room.
  5. Unattended personal belongings may not be left in the Reading Room.
  6. Coats and bags are not permitted. Lockers are provided for use by patrons. Items may not be stored in lockers overnight.
  7. Patrons are asked to observe posted policies on equipment use, including:
    • Priority for the use of computers will be given to patrons scanning from microfilm and microfiche.
    • To ensure equal access to all equipment, Reading Room staff may limit use of machines when others are waiting.
  8. Reading Room staff or security officers may examine material that a patron wishes to remove from the Reading Room. Collections materials cannot be removed.

Accessing Materials

  1. Museum collection material is accessible in the Shapell Center’s Reading Room. See the Collections Search catalog for information on where material is accessible and to request access when necessary. 
    • Note that some collections have restrictions that are described in the catalog record.
    • See Reading Room staff to access materials.

Handling and Copying Materials

  1. Patrons are asked to visit the restroom and wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and to dry them thoroughly, before handling library and archival materials.
  2. Only pencils may be used for taking notes by hand when examining original or rare materials.
  3. All materials must be handled with extreme care to ensure preservation for the future. When examining original materials, gloves must be worn for photographic materials and may be required for paper records at the discretion of Reading Room staff.
  4. When using original materials, patrons will be issued one item at a time. If given paper records, the researcher should leave the box upright and remove only one folder at a time, making sure to replace the folder in the proper order before moving on to the next one.
  5. Photocopying of archival and rare materials is not permitted. Patrons should ask Reading Room staff about the use of the scanning technology for reproduction. For most collections, the use of personal cameras is permitted; ask at the Reference Desk for assistance.
  6. Duplications may only be produced of materials without restrictions and in accordance with Copyright Law. For additional information, see the Museum’s Rights and Reproductions page
  7. Archival materials and non-circulating Library materials are to be returned to Reading Room staff before a patron leaves the Reading Room at the end of each research session.
  8. Materials pulled from the Library reference collection should be returned to designated book carts for reshelving.
  9. Collections may be held in the Reading Room for future use. Collections held but not accessed for more than 30 days will be returned to permanent storage.
  10. When available, digital surrogates or microforms will be served over originals.
  11. Museum staff and affiliates should consult the Library Circulation Policies on the staff intranet for guidance on borrowing privileges.

Exceptions to these policies may be approved in writing by the head of the Library (or designee), in consultation with the appropriate David M. Rubenstein National Institute for Holocaust Documentation director.

The Library staff appreciates the cooperation of patrons in observing these policies and in helping to ensure the integrity of the collections and equitable access for all patrons.

Updated February 23, 2022