New York State Library
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MSC and Archives Research Room

view trhough the doorway of the Research Room, from the lobby

The Research Room is a facility for using materials belonging to the State Archives and the State Library - Manuscripts & Special Collections. It is located on the eleventh floor.

Researchers must comply with these "Rules of the Research Room." Individuals age 18 or older are allowed to register and enter the research room. Those younger than 18 may do so with permission of staff. U.S. citizenship and New York residency are not required.

Access to materials in the State Library and the State Archives is governed, as applicable, by various state laws, and by federal laws, including the U.S. Copyright Act, and the U.S. Patriot Act.


Rules of the Research Room

Yearly registration. A researcher must complete the registration form once each calendar year, providing:

  • full name
  • business or school affiliation (if any)
  • U.S. mail address (business, school, or home)
  • telephone number(s)
  • general purpose of research.

Picture ID required. During registration, a researcher must present at least one form of picture identification:

  • driver's license
  • government, business, or school ID card
  • valid passport

The identification must contain the same postal address or affiliation entered on the registration form. An additional form of identification (such as a recent utility bill containing a home address) may be required. Staff may ask a researcher to produce current identification at any time after initial registration, and may require a new registration if identifying information has changed.

Storage lockers. Secure lockers are provided to researchers who need to store personal belongings. The locker must be emptied and the key must be returned when researcher leaves for the day. The State Library and State Archives are not responsible for lost articles.

Researchers may have the following items in the Research Room:

  • pencils (provided)
  • loose blank paper (available on request)
  • notecards and notes
  • spiral notebooks (without pockets) [microforms area only]
  • folders (without pockets)
  • laptop computer (without case)
  • hand-held cameras (without case)
  • magnifying glass (available on request)

The following items are not permitted in the Research Room:

  • three-ring binders
  • folders and spiral notebooks with pockets
  • mechanical pencils
  • pens
  • scanners
  • computer and camera cases
  • overcoats
  • briefcases and suitcases
  • handbags and pocketbooks
  • backpacks and fanny packs
  • food and drink

Reasonable accommodation. A researcher may ask staff about arranging for a reasonable accommodation for a medical need.

Opening and closing times. The Research Room opens at 10 AM Monday through Friday. The Library is closed all other Saturdays, Sundays, and New York State legal holidays.

Notice of closing the Research Room will be given at about 3:30 PM. The Research Room will close at 4 PM.; at that time all research materials will be collected and equipment will be shut down.

Sign-in/out log book. A researcher must sign the log book daily when entering the Research Room and sign out when leaving for the day.

Inspection of items taken from Research Room. Each time a researcher leaves the Research Room, he or she must show staff at one of the reference desks all items taken from the room.

Reserves. Research materials may be placed on reserve for up to two weeks, or longer by special arrangement. Materials not used within the specified time will be returned to storage.

Catalog and finding aids. A researcher may consult the Library-Archives online catalog, Excelsior, the MSC card catalog, finding aids, and reference books in the catalog-consultation area, located near the reference desks. Staff will provide instruction on using the catalog and other reference materials, and will help the researcher identify relevant research materials.

Retrieval schedule. Archives and Library materials stored in the Cultural Education Center are retrieved starting at 10:30 AM and 2 PM, with delivery times usually 30-45 minutes later. Vault items and materials stored outside the CEC should be requested at least two weeks in advance. Frequently used Archives microfilm and vital records microfiche indexes are stored in the microforms area of the Research Room and may be retrieved anytime.

Retrieval request forms. A researcher must fill out separate retrieval request forms for materials in the State Library (blue forms) and State Archives (green forms). Requests should be submitted to the librarian or archivist on duty at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled retrieval times.

Internet access. Internet access is provided for collection related research. Public access internet stations and Wi-Fi connectivity are available on the 7th floor.

Assigned seats. Each researcher is assigned a reading table or a microform reader. Reading table seats and microfilm reader-printers may be reserved in advance by phone, e-mail, or mail. A microfiche reader may be reserved only in person, on the same day as the planned use.

Time limits. Staff may limit times at a microform reader or reader-printer if there is a waiting list.

Registered researchers only. Only registered researchers may enter the research room. Exceptions may be made for brief consultations with staff.

Room use only. Research materials do not circulate, but many State Archives microfilms are available on interlibrary loan.

One cart/one box/one volume. One cart or truck containing research materials will be delivered to a researcher at a time. A researcher should use one box or one bound volume on a reading table at a time.

The State Archives and State Library—Manuscripts & Special Collections do not allow self-service photocopying of original materials. If copies are desired and condition of the materials permits, Library or Archives staff will provide photoduplication request forms, policies, and instructions. Reader-printers are available for self-service copying of Archives microforms (except vital records indexes).

  • Use materials only at your assigned table or microform reader. If you have questions about the materials, ask staff to come to your table.
  • Remove one folder or item from a box at a time, making sure to keep the materials in order. Mark the place with a paper tag (provided by staff). Do not rearrange files; report any apparent misfilings to staff.
  • Handle research materials carefully. Use a book weight and book cradle (provided by staff) to hold bound materials open.
  • Write only on your paper placed on the table top. Do not write on top of research materials.
  • Use cotton gloves (provided by staff) when handling photographs or manuscript documents or maps requiring special protection.
  • Inform staff when you need more materials delivered to your table or microform reader and/or are finished with materials. (Vital records microfiche indexes are self-service.)
  • Flag pages or documents to be copied by using paper slips or plastic clips (provided by staff).
  • Be considerate of fellow researchers. For extended conversations, go to the catalog-consultation area, the interview room, or the lobby.
  • Do not use cell phones in the research room. Turn off ringers before entering the Research Room.
Last Updated: May 10, 2023