Planning your visit to the Archives

We welcome the UW-Madison community and the public to visit our reading room during business hours. There are several things to consider and plan prior to visiting. We’ve outlined a few helpful hints and guidelines below. If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact the Archives.

Before you visit 

  • Create an Archives and Special Collections Account. This allows you to request collections from the library catalog, and schedule a time when you’d like to view materials in our reading room.
  • Depending on your request, it may take up to 24 hours to retrieve (especially for collections housed offsite) so please contact the Archives if you have questions about when your collection will be ready for viewing.
  • Due to the global pandemic and campus guidelines, our reading room is open to researchers in a limited and controlled capacity.
  • For the safety of library staff and researchers, only six researchers will be allowed in University Archives at a time.
  • Review Reading Room Guidelines.
  • The campus face covering policy has been updated. Vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask in campus buildings.
  • If you anticipate requesting duplications, please review our Duplication and Use Policy.
  • Parking is available at the Lot 36 ramp which is entered off Observatory Drive. Accessible spaces and ramp to the library entrance are available. More parking information.

Onsite guidelines

  • You will need to present a valid ID or campus Wiscard in the reading room. Please hold up your ID/Wiscard from a safe distance so staff can verify the information.
  • Please wash your hands thoroughly after arriving. Hand sanitizer will be available for use, but hands must be thoroughly rinsed or washed after using hand sanitizer and before handling collection materials to ensure that no sanitizer residue is transferred to the materials, as it may damage them.
  • Place your belongings in a designated locker. Please bring your own water supply to be stored in your locker.
  • Researchers may bring into the reading room only silenced cell phones, digital cameras, pencils, and laptops or tablets without cases. Power cords and headphones for electronic equipment are also permitted.
  • Food and drink are not allowed in the reading room.
  • Individuals must be in compliance with the campus health and safety protocols to enter library facilities.
  • Please practice physical distancing of six feet apart.
  • Patrons will be assigned a table that is safely distanced from the staff and other researchers. Shared surfaces are regularly disinfected.
  • Researchers should only wear gloves when working with photographs and metal objects.
  • No materials will be retrieved within 15 minutes of closing.

Services available

All reading room services are contingent upon availability of staff and all building services may not be supported.

During your visit, supported services include:

  • view materials in reading room at designated tables
  • limited self-service scanning (including use of mobile devices)
  • onsite research assistance
  • microfilm access
  • copy machine
  • duplication services by staff (restrictions may apply)

At this time, we are NOT able to support:

  • printing services
  • computing support

Course and Instruction Support

The Archives staff can provide limited course and instruction support. Please contact us for additional information.