Visiting the Library
The Minnesota Historical Society Library is open to the public free of charge. The collections held by the Society and made accessible through the Library include historical manuscripts, government records, photographs, maps, audio-visual material, books, and other printed material. In order to preserve these collections for generations to come, researchers are asked to observe the regulations below. Please do not hesitate to ask for assistance from our staff at any time. For information on bringing school groups to the library, please see our class visits web page.
Registration and Security
- All researchers must register upon their first visit. All researchers must present valid photo identification with proof of current home address. Acceptable photo identification includes driver’s license, passport, school identification card, state identification card or MHS staff identification card. A permanent Library Registration Card will be issued upon registration.
- Receiving and using a Library Registration Card signifies that the researcher has read the “Welcome to the Minnesota Historical Society Library” guide and agrees to abide by its policies.
- All researchers must show their Library Registration Card at every visit.
- Researchers must leave coats and other outerwear in the locker room.
- All briefcases, book bags, laptop carriers, handbags/purses, and other personal belongings must be left in the locker room. Coin-return lockers are located in the locker room. They require a $0.25 deposit, which is returned when the locker is opened.
- Clear plastic bags are available at the registration desk if you need to bring in medication, computer/camera supplies, money for photocopying, or other small items.
- Cell phone use is prohibited in the Library rooms. All cell phone calls must be placed and/or received in the Library lobby.
- No food or beverages (including water) are allowed under any circumstances into the Library rooms. There is a restaurant and vending machines available on the first floor of the Minnesota History Center.
- Laptop computers, paper and pencil only are allowed into the Library rooms. Ink is not allowed. WiFi access is available in both reading rooms.
- No downloading is allowed from Society computers using outside storage devices such as flash drives, etc.
- Camera use is allowed under certain guidelines. Please ask the staff for a "Camera Use Policy" handout.
- Any person found stealing, defacing, mutilating, or in any way damaging materials will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
- In the event of an emergency, patrons are expected to follow all staff instructions including evacuating the reading rooms when asked to do so. Failure to respond to staff instructions may result in loss of MHS library privileges.
Using the Collections
The Library provides access to most collections of the Society on site, however several archives and manuscripts series are housed at another location. These materials are pulled on a weekly basis. Please contact our staff for details.
The Library is divided into two reference rooms:
Weyerhaeuser Reference Room This room offers centralized reference services for all of the Society’s collections. Also available here is Copy Services, where you can order photocopies, photographic reproductions, and media duplication from items in the collections.
Ronald M. Hubbs Microfilm Room All microform materials, including newspapers, censuses, naturalization records, death records and Sanborn insurance maps are stored and used in the Hubbs Room. Microform materials are accessed with self-service microform readers and reader-printers. The charge is $0.35 per photocopy from a microform. Also available here is the Genealogy Help Desk.
Using the Materials
- All materials must be used in the Reference Rooms.
- Please use pencils only. Laptop computers may be used. Personal copiers and scanners are not allowed.
- For any materials you wish to see, please fill out call slips provided at the Reference Desks or near the computer terminals and card catalogs. Last retrieval is one half hour before closing.
- The number of items, which can be retrieved at one time, is limited in order to facilitate quick and accurate delivery. Some items may be marked “Restricted”. Reference Desk staff will furnish guidelines on access to these collections.
- When using folders or boxes of materials, keep the contents of each folder or box in its proper arrangement. Only one folder or volume may be removed from a box at a time.
- Remember to handle all items with care; folding or writing on an item will damage it. Special handling requirements may apply to some collections.
- The computers at the Minnesota Historical Society are for researching Minnesota history related topics. E-mail, games, and general Internet surfing are not allowed. WiFi access is available in both reading rooms if you want to use your personal e-mail.
- For camera use, please check with staff first.
- The written permission of the Minnesota Historical Society must be obtained before publication to use any item or quotation beyond fair use. Please consult with a Reference Staff member on specific guidelines.
- Photocopies and reproductions may be ordered from Copy Services. Copying of certain items may be restricted in accordance with donor contracts, copyright or privacy laws, or fragile condition. The Reference Staff will assist in defining copy status.
- The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) applies to all materials in the Society’s collections.
- A copy stand area is available by appointment for patrons wishing to copy materials with 35mm still cameras or digital cameras. Reference Staff will furnish guidelines for use of the equipment and limitations on items that may be copied. A nominal fee will be charged to cover the cost of the lights.
- See the Copy Services page for more information.
- To help researchers, the staff answer questions through e-mail or on the phone.
- The Library also offers a variety of fee-based Research Services. These services can be particularly helpful to researchers who cannot visit the Library in person.
- The Library also offers Interlibrary Loan and FamilySearch Microfilm Loan services.
More Information About the Library
- For more information and answers to many Frequently Asked Questions, please see our FAQ page.
- We have a number of online videos that can help you make the most of the Library's services and resources. To access them, please visit the Video Tutorials page.