Research Our Records

Frequently Asked Questions Related to Research Room Reopenings

Revised April 4, 2022
1.

How do I know when research rooms are open?

Check the specific facility page to determine when a facility is open for research. 

 
2.

How can I request an appointment?

Please email the relevant facility using the contact information on their facility page to request an appointment. Check the specific facility page for details and updates, as the situation can change quickly
 
3.

Can I walk into a NARA research room without an appointment and be provided access to NARA’s holdings?

No, NARA has implemented numerous protocols to help protect the safety and health of staff, researchers, and visitors. You must be scheduled for a research visit in advance. 

 
4.

How will my reference consultation be conducted?

NARA staff will be available to provide reference consultation services via phone, video, or email, to assist you in planning and preparing for your visit, and in identifying records to be pulled for your visit.The consultations will be used to provide information about NARA’s holdings and are generally scheduled for an hour or less. Please come prepared to discuss your research needs, in as much specificity as possible.

For research rooms outside the Washington, DC, area, advance consultation and advance pull is required at all COVID-19 Community Levels. 

In the DC area, advance consultation is highly encouraged. However, you may request a research room appointment without an advance consultation, and NARA staff will be available to assist with consultation and records servicing on the day of your research visit. An advance pull may not be available without advance consultation. 

 
5.

What are the research room hours?

Research room hours are as follows:

  • DC-area research rooms: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. ET 
  • Research rooms outside the DC area: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. local time (except New York, which is open 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. ET) 
  • St. Louis microfilm research room: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. CT
  • In person reference consultation hours are 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. local time
 
6.

What is the procedure for vaccination attestations and COVID-19 testing for researchers?

When the COVID-19 Community Level is Low:

Per guidance from the White House Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, COVID-19 testing and vaccine attestations are not required for facility access, regardless of vaccination status.

When the COVID-19 Community Level is Medium or High: 

Per ​​guidance from the White House Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, COVID-19 testing is required for all employees, contractors, and visitors (other than museum visitors) who are not fully vaccinated or do not disclose their vaccination status. Contractors and visitors (except for museum visitors) must present a vaccine attestation form in order to gain access to NARA facilities.

If fully vaccinated, you must bring a completed vaccination attestation form or voluntarily present documentation of proof of vaccination to the research room on the day of your appointment. Display of electronic copies is acceptable. If you are not fully vaccinated or do not report your vaccination status, you must bring a vaccination attestation form and a negative COVID-19 test result. Do not send forms or test results to NARA in advance of your appointment. 

Researcher-provided COVID-19 test results must meet all of the following requirements:
1)

Test type: Test results must indicate they are from a viral COVID-19 test. NARA does not accept the results of antibody tests.

2)

Issuing entity: Test results must include the name of the pharmacy, health care provider, laboratory, clinic, a government testing site, or similar facility that administered the test. The results of at-home or self-test kits – or test results that do not clearly identify the entity that performed the test – are not acceptable.

3)

Test date: The date that the specimen was collected must be no more than three whole calendar days before the date you seek entry to a NARA facility. Three whole calendar days may exceed 72 hours; for example, a test of a specimen collected on Monday morning is valid through Thursday evening. The age of a test is based on the specimen collection date, not the date the lab received the specimen or the date the result was reported. 

4)

Identification: The test result must include your name, and you must provide a photo ID along with the COVID-19 test result. Staff must be able to readily determine that you are the individual who took the test.

5)

Results: Test results must be negative, or “not detected.”

In facilities with a security force, security officers will only verify that you have completed an attestation form and have the required paperwork for entry into the facility. Security officers will not review attestation forms or verify COVID-19 test results. A NARA staff member will review vaccination attestations and, as applicable, negative COVID-19 test results before allowing you to enter a NARA research room for a scheduled appointment.

You will retain all documentation and will only present copies to NARA security officers or staff for visual inspection. NARA security officers and staff will not collect or record attestation forms or COVID-19 test results.

If you are not fully vaccinated or do not report your vaccination status, you will be removed from NARA facilities for up to seven calendar days and may be considered for banning if you refuse to provide a valid, negative COVID-19 test result when required or fail to follow NARA procedures for face coverings and physical distancing.

 
7.

Are microfilm readers, public access computers, copy machines, etc. available for use? 

The availability of these resources varies from facility to facility. Please email the facility you wish to visit using the contact information on their facility page for details. 

 
8.

Are teams or groups of researchers allowed?

No. Appointments are for one person only - no teams or groups of researchers will be allowed, per social distancing practices.

 
9.

How many days per week can I expect to be able to conduct research on-site?

The availability of appointment times to conduct research on-site will vary from facility to facility, depending on researcher demand and staffing.

 
10.

How will the records I’ve requested be pulled?

Advance consultation and advance pull is required for research rooms outside the Washington, DC, area at all COVID-19 Community Levels. 

 
11.

What measures are in place to ensure the safety of researchers and staff?

  • See question 7 for information on vaccination attestations and COVID-19 testing.
  • When the COVID-19 Community Level is High in the county or city where a NARA facility is located, appropriate face coverings (no valve/vent) must be worn at all times. When the COVID-19 Community Level is Low or Medium in the county where a NARA facility is located, face coverings are not required, regardless of an individual’s vaccination status. All facility occupants are permitted to voluntarily wear a face covering in Medium and Low Community Levels, if they choose.
  • Appropriate face coverings are required for all passengers on the shuttle that runs between the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, and the National Archives at College Park, at all community levels.
  • Those who are sick or do not feel well must stay home.
  • All facility occupants must maintain at least six feet of physical distance from other individuals at all times while in NARA facilities, regardless of vaccination status.
  • NARA will implement safe social distancing through floor markings, one-way paths, and directional guidance. Chairs will be removed and workspaces will be blocked to promote physical distancing between researchers. 
  • NARA will follow CDC cleaning guidance. In addition, researchers will be able to contribute to sanitizing procedures by cleaning their assigned tables and equipment before and after their research.
  • Hand sanitizer will be readily available outside of the research rooms. Personal hand sanitizer will not be allowed in research rooms. 
  • If a researcher or NARA employee experiences COVID-19 symptoms while in a NARA research room or later reports symptoms, a diagnosis, or a close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, NARA will use contact information collected during the researcher registration process to notify other researchers of a potential exposure.
 
12.

Does NARA check temperatures of staff, contractors, or researchers?

No. However, anyone accessing a research room must assess their health by answering the four questions below prior to arrival at the facility:

1)

Have you experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 48 hours?

2)

Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19 (with or without symptoms), are you currently waiting on the results of a COVID-19 test due to an exposure or symptoms, or has a health care provider advised you to stay at home or otherwise self-isolate? 

3)

Are you a person who is not fully vaccinated, who has been in close physical contact (within six feet for longer than 15 minutes) with a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days?

4)

Are you a person who is not fully vaccinated, who has traveled out of the state or region, or out of the country in the past 10 days (with no COVID test) or in the past 7 days (if you have been tested since returning)?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, please do not come to a NARA facility. Please seek medical attention, and contact NARA to let them know that you answered "yes" to one or more of the questions.

 
13.

How will NARA conduct exit inspections in a way that promotes social distancing?

Upon completion of research for the day, NARA staff or security guards will inspect your personal property for record material. This includes laptops, scanners, and other equipment where record material could be erroneously placed. To ensure staff and researchers maintain appropriate distance, the inspection will follow these procedures:

  • You will place equipment and materials to be inspected on your assigned table in plain view, for visual inspection. After placing the equipment on the table, you will step back to comply with social distancing requirements.
  • NARA staff or security guards will inspect the equipment/material, wearing disposable gloves, which should be immediately thrown away. 
  • Upon completion of the inspection, you will wipe down the table and your equipment using the 70% isopropyl alcohol provided and ensure that used paper towels, wipes, gloves, etc. are properly discarded.
 
14.

Will NARA provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for researchers?

No. You must supply your own PPE. You are permitted to wear your own latex or vinyl gloves. Gloves will only be provided for handling photographs, negatives, and film, as currently required by NARA research room procedures.

 
15.

Are any COVID-19 notification procedures in place?

If a researcher or NARA employee experiences COVID-19 symptoms while in a NARA research room or later reports symptoms, a diagnosis, or a close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, NARA will use contact information collected during the researcher’s visit to notify other researchers of a potential exposure. NARA may share your name and email address with a governmental health authority should that information be requested for a COVID-19-related reason. 

 
16.

Are lockers available for researchers?

Lockers will be available if needed.

 
17.

How will I know if a research room is closed or if opening is delayed due to inclement weather?

In the event of inclement weather, DC-area researchers should check OPM.gov for the operating status of DC-area facilities. If the status indicates an office closure, the research room will not open that day. If the status indicates “Open - X hours delayed arrival,” the research room will open X hours after the normal opening time.

Outside the DC area, researchers with an appointment will be contacted by research room staff if there is a weather-related delay or closure.

 
18.

Are the DC-area shuttle and cafeterias available?

The shuttle that runs between the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, and the National Archives at College Park is available. Appropriate face coverings are required for all passengers on the shuttle, at all community levels. The cafeterias and food services in both buildings are open with limited offerings.

 
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