Course:5: Access and Outreach
Lesson:Lesson 1: Good Reference and Access Practices
Topic:Reference Services to Consider

Reference Services to Consider

Before you begin to draft your own reference policy, there are some aspects of reference services that you should consider. These include access, registration, and photocopying.


Access should always be provided on an equal basis to those who agree to and abide by the rules and regulations of your program


All visitors should register before using your collections. Registration should include the usersí name, address, and signature. Many programs require users to present a valid form of identification as well. This registration process will help you to record how many users come to your archives and to identify users on a particular day in the event of loss or damage to a collection. We have a sample user registration log here that you can look at and adapt for your own needs. We also have a sample user registration form. Deciding whether to use a log or a form is your programís preference.

Users should understand the registration process and the rules for using the collections. Many programs provide researchers with a copy of their reference policy, or post the policy clearly, to ensure awareness and make enforcement easier. If there are any fees or conditions, users should be made aware of these as well.

pen and document
All visitors should register before using your collections.

Archives Reference Policy
Post regulations and have written copies of your policy available.


Photocopying policyPhotocopying

Determine your photocopying policy and include it within your reference policy. If you have a photocopier and want to be able to provide copies for your users, you will need to decide:

  • Are there limits on the number of copy requests a user can make per day?
  • Will you charge for photocopies? How much?
  • Will you copy items that are copy restricted, fragile, or damaged?
  • Will you allow the public to make their own copies?
    (This is not advisable for collections of unique historical records which need to be handled carefully and can be damaged during photocopying.)


Example icon

University Of Illinois Archives At Urbana-Champaign: Policy For Copying Archival Material.
Northern Kentucky Archival Collections Photocopying Policy.

The Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections Policy.