Research Our Records

Scanning Documents in the Research Rooms

Have Your Scanner Approved

When entering a research room, let a NARA staff member know as soon as possible that you would like to use a scanner to reproduce records.

The research room supervisor will decide whether your scanner meets the standards set by NARA Preservation Programs. Scanners with printing functions/capability are not allowed in the textual research rooms.

Once approved, the supervisor and staff may designate an area for you to work.

Approval is good only for that research room. Because the records in each research room present unique formats and preservation issues, you must receive separate approval to use the scanner in another research room.

Scanning Records

On your first visit to each NARA research room, ask a staff member to brief you about appropriate records handling and copying procedures for that media. We can also provide you with written guidelines for reference while you work.

Show the records you want to copy to the research room staff. You cannot simply move records from your research space to your scanner without approval.

Bound volumes may not be scanned.

When working with formerly classified images, it is extremely important that you follow declassification instructions provided by staff.

  • All scanned images must bear appropriate declassification markings.

  • In addition, each day you must complete a form indicating that you followed these procedures and show that form to the guard upon leaving for the day.

Allowable Use of Scanners

  • Only flatbed scanners (see below for single exception) are allowed. Automatic feeder devices on flatbed scanners are prohibited.

  • Equipment platens or copyboards must be the same size or larger than the record to be copied. No part of a record may overhang the platen or copyboard.

  • No part of the equipment may come in contact with records in a manner that causes friction, abrasion, or otherwise crushes or damages records.

  • Light sources must not raise the surface temperature of the record being copied.

  • All equipment surfaces must be clean and dry before being used with records.

  • You cannot clean the scanner, replace toner cartridges, or perform other maintenance in the research room. Cleaning supplies may only be used and stored in the locker area of the research complex.

  • Aerosols or ammonia-containing cleaning solutions should not be used. A 50% water and 50% isopropyl alcohol solution is recommended for cleaning.

Hand-Held Scanners

NARA does not allow the use of hand-held scanners that are moved or rubbed across the face of documents. According to NARA preservation specifications, "Equipment that could potentially damage documents will not be approved. No part of the equipment may come in contact with records in a manner that causes friction, abrasion, or that otherwise crushes or damages records..."