Archives > Public Reference Services

Reference Assistance

Library/archives reference staff provide assistance to researchers in the reading room by directing them to pertinent collection guides, recommending sources of information, retrieving the requested materials and filling some reproduction  orders of original materials.

Reading Room Guidelines

  • All library/archives patrons must sign the daily visitor registration log.
  • No coats, purses, briefcases, fanny packs, equipment cases, or similar items.
  • No food or beverages are allowed in reading room. Smoking is prohibited everywhere in the SHSI facilities.
  • Use only pencils for taking notes. No ink, ballpoint, or felt-tip pens are permitted.
  • Staff members only are permitted in closed stack area.
  • All materials must be used only in the reading room. You cannot check out materials or take them elsewhere in the building.
  • We provide photocopy service only for materials from collections under our care.
  • All personal notes and equipment are subject to search when a patron leaves the reading room.
  • We reserve the right to ask patrons to leave the reading room if they fail to comply with any rules, or if their behavior is disruptive.
  • Lockers are available for storing personal items. A locker takes two quarters, automatically refunded when you return the key.
  • We provide you with pencils and clear plastic bags for storing personal items.
  • The archives is closed on Saturdays. But you can use maps, manuscripts, state archives materials, or photographs from the archives on Saturday if you place a request for material by noon on the preceding Friday. See the reference staff.
  • Materials from the other SHSI library are sometimes available through loans. Ask the staff about loans.
  • You may use tape recorders, typewriters, portable computers, and photographic equipment. Please check with the staff to make sure your equipment doesn't inconvenience others.
  • To request copies of maps, manuscripts, photographs, and state archives materials, ask the reference staff. Staff will provide photocopies of these materials, unless prohibited by copyright or curatorial restrictions.
  • If you want the staff to retrieve any materials from the closed stacks for you, first fill out a call slip for each item.
  • Do not re-shelve any materials.
  • Please maintain the order and arrangement of archives materials so that other researchers can locate them.

Professional Researchers

Since SHSI librarians are not able to conduct detailed research for patrons the State Historical Society maintains a list of professional researchers who provide services for a fee to those unable to come in person to the reading room. 

The State Historical Society of Iowa provides access to collections at no cost to patrons. However, fees are charged for duplication and special services associated with use of the collections.

Information on Microfilm Available for Interlibrary Loan 

Library Copy Services and Fees

Photograph Reproduction Fees

List of Professional Researchers

Copyright Notice

Conditions for Image Reproduction


The State Historical Society of Iowa welcomes tours of its libraries and archives. To schedule a tour, please contact the library/archives staff at least one month in advance.

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