Before You Visit

*Please note: TSLAC interactive exhibit spaces are closed to the public until further notice, and on-site visitor services are currently limited, due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). See our services page for further information, updated regularly.

Contact Information
Need help? Contact us at:

ref@tsl.texas.gov
or
512-463-5455

 
Introduction

This information is intended for researchers planning to visit the Texas State Library and Archives Commission at 1201 Brazos Street in Austin. Visitor information for the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center is on the Center’s Before You Visit page.

Before you visit, please review the Guidelines for Patrons using our public service areas. If you or your group would like to request a guided tour, please complete our tour request form.

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Appointments

To help your research plans go as smoothly as possible, please review the information below and direct any questions to the Reference Desk (ref@tsl.texas.gov or 512-463-5455).

Appointment Policies

Appointments are for use of archival materials only. (See FAQs: What does “archival material” mean?)

The Archives Reading Room is available for appointments weekdays 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-4:30 p.m.

During your appointment:

  • You must wear a face covering at all times; if you do not have one, we will provide one.
  • You must maintain six feet of social distance between yourself and all staff members and other researchers.
  • We do not accept on-site payments, including for purchase of flash drives.
  • No same day photocopy orders.
  • No lounge for patron use.
  • The reading room is closed between 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.

To request a new appointment, email archinfo@tsl.texas.gov. Please note:

  • Patrons cannot schedule more than one three-hour appointment at a time. You are welcome to schedule a follow-up appointment during your visit.
  • All materials must be requested on a Texas State Archives Material Request Form prior to confirming an appointment. Please download the form in Adobe Reader and save before sending. Forms completed in an internet browser only will likely appear blank when sent to our staff.
  • Researchers must be currently registered as a TSLAC patron prior to confirming an appointment. If you need to register or renew, download and complete the Registration Packet.
  • Each individual must have their own appointment slot in advance.
  • TSLAC may not be able to meet a request for an appointment with less than 24 hours’ notice.
  • The availability of appointments may be delayed based on the nature of the records, including restrictions on access and location of the materials and availability of staff.

Provide a timeframe for when you want your appointment. This can be general (“the first week of October”) or specific (“October 1, from 8:30-11:30 am”). While we cannot guarantee availability, this helps us plan your visit.

Once your appointment is confirmed, our staff will reserve a table for you in the Archives Reading Room and be in touch with next steps.

Helpful Starters and Tips

We are here to support your research! Please consider the following tips to help make your research time go as smoothly as possible:

Before you request an appointment:

  1. Review the information on this webpage.
  2. Use finding aids to identify specific archival materials you want to see. If you are uncertain what materials you need, please email ref@tsl.texas.gov and staff will be happy to make suggestions.
  3. Fill out a Texas State Archives Material Request Form, including the call numbers of specific archival materials. Please download the form in Adobe Reader and save before sending. Forms completed in an internet browser only will likely appear blank when sent to our staff.

Other tips:

  • Plan several days in advance of your visit.
  • Tell us if you plan to have a colleague accompany you. They will need to have an appointment.
  • Have ready access to a copy of your Material Request Form and any email requests in case you need to refer back.
  • Due to limited locker space, bring only what you need. (See Reading Room Policies)

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  What does “archival material” mean?

Archival materials are original documents or primary sources, including original state agency records, letters, manuscripts, photographs, maps, and original newspapers. Some of our archival materials are described in our online finding aids:

2.  Can I make an appointment for books?

Library materials, including books, are currently unavailable for on-site research due to COVID-19 restrictions. Many items in our library collections are available online, through interlibrary loan (ILL), or at other libraries. If there are specific resources you would like to access, please email ref@tsl.texas.gov with those details and we can assist you by email.

3.  Can I make an appointment to research on your computers?

Our library subscription databases and public computers are currently unavailable for on-site research due to COVID-19 restrictions. If you have a specific research topic or question, you’re welcome to email ref@tsl.texas.gov with those details and we can assist you by email.

4.  What if I can’t make an appointment? Can staff do research for me?

It depends on the complexity of your request. Some research is beyond the scope of what our staff can complete. In many cases, if you’re unable to visit, our staff can provide you with a price quote for photocopies or digitization for materials eligible for those services. We can also send a list of researchers familiar with our facility. Please send the details of your request to ref@tsl.texas.gov and our staff will work with you on options for access.

5.  Can I make a same-day appointment?

We strive to work with all patron requests; however, we may not be able to grant an appointment with less than 24 hours’ notice. Some determining factors are the nature of the materials (including restrictions on access and location of the materials), conflicts with other confirmed appointments, and availability of staff.

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Parking

Parking is available in the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage located at 1201 San Jacinto Street, directly east of the Lorenzo de Zavala Archives and Library Building. Metered spaces are available throughout the Capitol Complex and on San Jacinto Boulevard.

In addition to the handicapped parking spaces in the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage, limited handicapped parking spaces for the Capitol Complex are located in the front of the building on Brazos Street.

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Lockers

We request that visitors place belongings in lockers located in the Archives Reading Room. These free lockers are secured by individual keys for the privacy and safety of your belongings. The interior dimensions of the lockers are 17.5" deep and 10.5" wide and can accommodate items of up to 5' in length. Staff are unable to store or monitor items that will not fit in the available lockers, so please plan accordingly.

Briefcases, computer cases, rolling bags, luggage, backpacks, camera bags, large purses, fanny packs, parcels, musical instrument cases, shopping bags, etc., must be placed in a locker. Patrons are responsible for locker keys and, if needed, a fee will be charged for replacement.

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Reproductions

On site researchers can request items to be photocopied by completing the Reproduction Request Form. While copies of archival materials may be requested, please be aware that due to factors including size and condition, not all archival items can be photocopied. Staff will determine their suitability for photocopying.

At this time, we are not providing same-day copy services or accepting payment in person.

While we do not provide scan on demand services, researchers may take non-flash photographs of archival material with personal cameras, cell phones or other devices with cameras. A scanner is available upon request for scanning letter-sized documents. Personal scanners, however, are not permitted. Photographic material cannot be photographed or scanned by patrons. Many of the images from our Prints and Photographs collection have already been digitized for use by patrons.

Researchers can request digital copies of photographic material, maps, select audio and film, and oversize items that are not suitable for photocopies by completing the Reproduction Request Form. Certain formats have limits to the number of digitization requests per patron at one time:

  • 1 muster roll or oversize item (larger than 11" x 17")
  • 1 audiocassette tape or audio reel (dependent on technical capabilities and physical condition of audio)
  • 1 film reel or video format (dependent on technical capabilities and physical condition of film)
  • 3 maps
  • 5 images

Review our Reproduction Fee Schedule for charges for print and digital copies.

Notice Concerning Copyright Restrictions

The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

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Page last modified: November 13, 2020