National Genealogical Society

References for Researching

Guidelines for Using Records Repositories and Libraries

Recommended by the National Genealogical Society

Recognizing that how they use unique original records and fragile publications will affect other users, both current and future, genealogists and family history researchers routinely
  • determine before visiting a records repository or library what is available and what they will need from the facility;

  • are courteous to records repository and library personnel and to other researchers, and respect the personnel’s other daily tasks;

  • follow the rules of the library or records repository without protest, even if the rules have changed since a previous visit or differ from those of another facility;

  • dress appropriately, converse with others in a low voice, and supervise children;

  • use only work space and equipment, such as readers and computers, intended for patron use, respect off-limits areas, and ask for assistance if needed;

  • treat original records at all times with great respect;

  • treat books with care, never forcing their spines, and handle photographs in accordance with the facility’s rules;
  • never mark, mutilate, rearrange, or relocate any record or artifact;

  • never remove any item from the facility except as allowed by the facility’s rules;

  • learn and observe the repository or library policy on photographing, scanning, or photocopying;

  • use the repository or library’s acceptable methods for identifying records for photocopying, avoiding use of paper clips, adhesive notes, and other means not approved by the facility;

  • use only procedures prescribed by the repository for noting corrections to errors or omissions found in published works or records, never marking the work or the record itself;

  • return volumes, records, and files only to locations designated for that purpose; and

  • before departure, thank records repository and library personnel for making the materials available and for assistance received.
© 1997, 2001, 2016 by National Genealogical Society; includes material ©1995 by Joy Reisinger, CG Both copyright owners grant permission to copy or publish these standards, provided they are reproduced in their entirety, including this notice.

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