I’ve completed a few in-person research experiences the last few weeks and wanted to share what I experienced. Prior to the the Covid shut downs, I was researching in person at least once a week. Things are definitely different now and its best to be prepared.

Before Going to Do Research

  • Research is by appointment only. Limit of appointment seems to be about 3 hours. It could be several weeks until an appointment is open.
  • Email the staff ahead of time with exactly the materials you wish to search. Books and microfilms could be offsite for digitization or under quarantine. Best to have them set it aside for your visit.
  • Be prepared to take a rapid PCR Covid test the day before your visit. One upcoming appointment I have is requiring it regardless of vaccination status. These are available at urgent cares near where I live and the cost is around $60. You’ll have results in 20 minutes and a certificate to bring with you.

During Your Research Visit

  • Expect to wear a mask your entire visit. No matter what the governmental mask requirements are, many places are requiring them.
  • Do not use hand sanitizer during your visit. The alcohol in hand santizer can damage historical documents and microfilm. You’ll be washing your hands in the bathroom with soap and water before and after touching materials.
  • Latex or nitrile gloves won’t be available for you. If you are more comfortable gloving up than washing your hands, ask the staff what kind of glove they prefer and bring several pairs with you.
  • You may have a check-in process with questions and a temperature check.
  • People may sit close to you. This was the thing that bothered me the most in my research trips. I like having some space around me normally when I’m working and before Covid, people general spread out in archives. For some reason I can not explain, I had people several times sit in the closest seat they could to me. Plenty of open seats were available. Maybe it won’t happen to you, but I’ve warned you!

Lastly, the biggest thing to expect from in-person research is lots of smiles from the staff. Even under masks I can see the happiness! I guess for them and for me doing in-person research is a welcome return to some form of normal.

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