Visiting the reading rooms

The National Archives’ reading room services are available during the opening hours of the branches without a separate appointment.

However, it is recommended that you order the documents you want in advance on our Astia online service so that they are ready when you arrive in the reading room.

Astia online service

Please note the schedules: the final time for submitting same-day orders varies by branch office.

It is also possible to order material on site in the reading room.

Reading room etiquette

When examining our material – documents, pictures, maps or drawings – in the reading room at our branch, you must follow the reading room etiquette. This means activities that ensure the preservation of the material, guarantee peaceful working conditions for everyone and, in general, streamline the operation of the reading room.

The only thing you’re allowed to take to the reading room is your note taking accessories. All bags, including computer bags, are left in the space reserved for them. In addition, no food or drink may be taken to the reading room.

Loud conversation and phone calls are prohibited in the reading rooms.

Handling of material

The materials – documents, maps and drawings – that can be ordered to the National Archives’ reading rooms are unique and invaluable. They are also easily damaged. That is why they must be handled with utmost care. Compliance with the handling instructions ensures that the valuable written cultural heritage is preserved for future generations.

Handling instructions

  • The material to be examined must be kept on a work desk. Documents may not be placed on the floor, even temporarily.
  • Leaning on the material or taking notes on top of it is not allowed.
  • It is not allowed to stack open bound volumes on top of each other.
  • Only one open case can be on the work desk at any one time to avoid confusion between documents and document bundles.
  • The order of the documents in the cases must not be changed.
  • It is strictly prohibited to make any markings on the material, as well as to attach self-adhesive labels and paper clips.
  • The material must be handled with clean and dry hands and browsed through carefully. It is prohibited to moisten your fingers when turning the pages.
  • The use of clean cotton gloves given by the on-call staff is required for handling materials  from before the year 1810. This applies to documents, photo collections and special collections defined by units.
  • There are tables reserved for large maps. Particular care should be taken when opening map rolls and blanketed supports should be used.
  • Separate book supports must be used when examining thick bound volumes.
  • Taking material away from reading rooms is prohibited.  
  • Also, when photographing and scanning documents, they must be handled in such a way that they are not damaged.
  • The flash must not be used when photographing.
  • Photographing must not disturb other customers (e.g. the digital sounds of the camera or scanner must be set to mute).