Libraries & Special Collections

Des Moines reading room

Research Center Guidelines

The research center team provides assistance to researchers in the research center by directing them to pertinent collection guides, recommending sources of information, retrieving the requested materials and filling some reproduction orders of original materials.


  • All 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 and smoking is prohibited.
  • Use only pencils - no ink, ballpoint, or felt-tip pens are permitted.
  • Patrons are not permitted in the closed stack area. Patrons may fill out a call slip for each item for retrieval.
  • All materials must stay in the research center. Materials cannot be checked out or taken to another area of 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 research center.
  • Patrons may be asked to leave the research center 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 pencils and clear plastic bags for storing personal items.
  • Materials housed in the archives (maps, manuscripts, state archives materials and photographs) are unavailable on Saturdays unless requested by noon on the preceding Friday.
  • Materials from the other research center are sometimes available through 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.
  • Do not re-shelve any materials.
  • Please maintain the order and arrangement of materials so that other researchers can locate them.

Professional Researchers

Since the research center is not able to conduct detailed research for patrons the State Historical Society of Iowa maintains a list of professional researchers who provide services for a fee to those unable to come in person to a research center. 

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.


The State Historical Society of Iowa welcomes tours of its archives. To schedule a tour, please contact the the research center at least one month in advance.

©2013 The State of Iowa, All Rights Reserved | Policies | Accessibility | Non-discrimination and Accommodation | Website Feedback