Before You Visit

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.

Please note: 

  • To promote public health and safety, we remind the public that anyone who is not fully vaccinated for COVID-19 is safest by continuing to wear a facial covering. If you do not have one, we can provide one.
  • Please maintain six feet of social distance between yourself and all staff members and other researchers. 
Appointments

Public service hours are 9a.m. - 4p.m. Monday through Friday for the Archives and Reference reading rooms in Austin. Beginning in 2022, reading rooms are also open the second Saturday of each month from 9a.m. - 4p.m.

  • Library materials and public computers with internet access are available in the Reference reading room. Appointments are not necessary.
  • Advance appointments for use of archival materials are encouraged. 
  • See FAQs for more information about archival vs. library materials.

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).

The benefits of planning an appointment in advance include:

  • Materials that require staff review or transportation from off-site storage will be available.
  • Your requested materials will be waiting at a table for you, and you can get right to work.
  • Less time spent on completing required forms.
  • Space reserved for you and any colleagues in the Archives Reading Room.

To request an appointment, email ref@tsl.texas.gov and include the following:

  • Texas State Archives Material Request Form. All materials must be requested on this 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.

Please note:

  • Each individual must be registered.
  • To help us plan your visit, provide a timeframe for when you want your appointment. This can be general (“the first week of October”) or specific (“October 1, all day”). 
  • 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 as needed, such as prioritizing order to pull materials for large requests or discussing options for accessing records when restricted information is found during review. 

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:

There are many collections that remain unprocessed. If you are uncertain what materials you need, please email ref@tsl.texas.gov and staff will be happy to make suggestions.

2. What does “library material” mean?

Library materials are books and other items from our library collections: Main, Genealogy, Reference, Texas Documents, and US Documents. Library materials also include vertical files, non-archival microfilm such as newspaper and county records, and online subscription databases such as Ancestry and Newspapers.com. 

3.  Can I make an appointment for books?

No appointment is needed to access library materials, including books, for on-site research. Many items in our library collections are available online, through interlibrary loan (ILL), or at other libraries. If you are unable to visit, please email ref@tsl.texas.gov with the materials you need, and we can help you with access options. 

4. Can I browse the library materials?

City directories, vital statistics indexes, and a small reference collection are on open shelves and available for browsing in the Reference Reading Room. The rest of the library materials, including the Genealogy Collection, are in closed stacks; staff will deliver requested items to you.

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

Our library subscription databases and public computers are available for on-site research and no appointment is needed. 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.

6.  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. Please send the details of your request to ref@tsl.texas.gov and our staff will work with you on options for access.

7.  How much time do TSLAC staff need to prepare restricted materials to access?

If you are requesting access to restricted records, we recommend that submit your request at least four weeks before you plan to visit. Staff require time to bring records stored off-site to our facility, review records restricted under statute, and prepare them for access by the public. The time that it takes to prepare restricted material depends on the amount of material, the types of material and restrictions, and the time staff must spend on other duties. 

Please consult the "Restrictions" section of the finding aid(s) for the material of interest. If you have questions about whether records are restricted or the kind of restrictions, please send your questions to ref@tsl.texas.gov

Parking

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

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.

Lockers

We request that visitors place belongings in lockers. 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.

Reproductions

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission provides copy services in accordance with the Public Information Act and does not provide scan on demand services. Options for duplication of materials include:

  • Submitting an order for photocopies of textual materials. Same-day service is not available.
  • A self-service scanner is available for scanning documents 12 x 8" or smaller. Bring a flash drive to save your images.

Researchers wishing to utilize their own devices:

  • May take non-flash photographs of materials with personal devices, such as a camera or mobile phone.
  • Are not permitted to use personal desktop or other scanners. 

Researchers using archival materials 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.

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 scanned by patrons, but non-flash photography is permitted. 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:

  • 5 images of items up to 11" x 17" (including photographic material)
  • 3 single-page oversize items (larger than 11" x 17")
  • 1 multi-page 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)

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.

Page last modified: July 15, 2022