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History Day Research @ the MNHS Library: Step 4: Visit the Library

A step-by-step guide for student researchers

Visiting the Library

Our full guide to visiting the Library has lots of good information and advice, but here are some of the most important things for History Day researchers to know before they arrive:


"What should I bring?"

  • Pencils and Paper for note-taking
  • Tablet or laptop computer: Table numbers starting with C have wall outlets for power nearby and we have free wi-fi.
  • Phone or digital camera: Cameras can be used to take non-flash pictures of many items in our collection, but not of everything.  Please ask at the reference desk before you take any photos.  
  • Money for copies: Same day photocopies cost $0.25 each.  
  • Flash/thumb drive: You can only download to a flash drive from our microfilm-scanner computer.
  • A quarter for a locker: Securely lock up your backpack/purse and any other materials you don't need in the reading room in a locker.  And you'll get your quarter back when you leave! 
  • A photo ID, if you have one.

"What should I NOT bring?"

A variety of items are not allowed in the reading room, including: 

  • Food and beverages: If you get thirsty/hungry, there are water fountains and a cafe in the building.  
  • Ink pens, markers, highlighters, etc.: Pencils are fine, though!
  • Personal scanners or copiers: You can have copies made for you, just ask at the Copy Services window.  
  • Coats and outerwear: These can go in a locker or on our coat rack.
  • Backpacks, purses, and other bags: These should go in a secure locker.
  • Cell phone ringers: You can bring your phone in, but turn off the ringer and make any calls from the library lobby so you don't disturb other researchers.  

Getting a Library Card

All researchers at the MNHS Library have to register and get a library card when they first visit.  This process is very simple.  If you have a photo ID--like a driver's licence or permit--you will show that.  If you do not have a photo ID, your parent or guardian can show theirs and you will both get cards.   

When you get your card, be sure to tell the registration desk staff that you are working on a History Day project.  You will get a special sticker on your card identifying you as a History Day '18 researcher and it will help us continue to provide special assistance to History Day students!

Requesting Materials at the MNHS Library

Most of the materials in our collections are in closed stacks. This means that once you find materials that you would like to use in the catalog or a finding aid, our staff must retrieve the items and bring them out to a research table for you.

If you are at the MNHS Library, you will request materials using special request-slips that are located by every computer and at the Reference Desk. (Detailed instructions for request slips are in our full Guide to Using the Library.)  

Hints for time-management:

  • Request items in advance, so they are waiting for you when you arrive (see below).
  • The on-site retrieval process can take up to 30 minutes.
  • We stop taking requests 30 minutes before the Library closes.

Requesting Materials in Advance

Requesting materials in advance can save you a lot of time:

  • You can request up to 3 items in advance.
  • Place your same-day or later request by calling the Reference Desk (651-259-3300) anytime the Library is open.
  • You can request materials via email, but send your email at least two days before your planned visit
  • Materials requested in advance will be waiting for you when you arrive; ask at the Library's Request Materials window.
  • Some items are stored off-site.  These must be requested in advance and can take up to a week to arrive.

Copies and Cameras

The Copy Services window is where you can order photocopies, photographic reproductions, and media duplication from items in the collections.  Most items in the collections may be copied, unless they are too fragile or are subject to restrictions.  The cost is $0.25 per page for standard-sized, same-day photocopies. (Detailed copy pricing list)

Researchers can take non-flash photos of most items for research purposes.  Before taking any photos, please ask at the Reference Desk to be sure an item can be photographed.  (Camera Use Policy)

MNHS Librarians

The MNHS Library is always staffed with librarians who are happy to help with your research.  Just ask at the Reference Desk!

History Day Prize!

Visiting MNHS Links

Gale Family Library • Minnesota Historical Society • 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 • 651-259-3300
Currently open by appointment only.