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Library Policies

Library Policies

  • Bags of any sort, including laptop cases, camera cases, and purses, are not permitted in the library; clear bags are the exception to this rule. These items may be stored in free lockers in the lobby, which have keys that visitors can keep with them. 

  • As a security precaution, jackets are not allowed in the Library. They may be stored on a coat rack in the Patron Lounge or in the free lockers in the Lobby. Sweatshirts, sweaters, and vests are permitted in the Library.

  • Laptop computers, paper notebooks that open on three sides, loose paper, cameras and other research supplies are welcome.

  • For the safety of our original documents, pens, food, and drink are not permitted in the library.  We have plenty of pencils for you to borrow and a café in the lobby where you may eat and drink during breaks. There is a water cooler, microwave, and small refrigerator in the café for your convenience.

  • Researchers must wear their badges while they are in the library.

  • As a security precaution, restrooms inside the Library are locked and researchers will need to ask for a key to use them at the Front Desk.  Researchers may not take their research supplies into the restroom, but may leave their supplies at the front desk or the desk they are using inside the Library while they are in the restroom.  Restroom keys must be returned after use.

  • Cell phones must be set to silent and phone calls may not be taken inside the Library. Visitors are welcome to take calls in the Lobby.

  • When exiting the library, researcher’s items will be subject to a brief security check.

  • Unlike public libraries, HSP is not a lending library.  Therefore, researchers may not check out items and our materials do not leave our building.

  • While our staff is always available to provide help, due to the nature of the research process, we can't always guarantee that your search will be successful.  Therefore, we're unable to provide refunds for library admission.


Photograph Policy

Researchers are welcome to photograph collection materials free of charge at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania under the following conditions:

  • The photos are only used for research purposes. Contact Rights and Reproductions if you are interested in using images for anything outside of research.

  • No flash is used when taking photos.

  • A copyright card must be placed somewhere in the photograph along with the research material. These cards can be found throughout the Library and at the Front Desk.



To ensure safe-handling of documents, photocopying may only be done by library staff.  To request photocopies, our library staff will have you complete a brief copy request form. The photocopies produced will be black-and-white images and cost  $0.50 a page. 

Please note that the time it takes to complete your request will depend upon staff availability that day.  Large copy orders or copies from large-scale volumes may take longer to produce, although smaller orders are usually completed the same day.  On days when the library is busy, photocopy requests may not be completed before the end of the business day. If your order is not ready before you leave the library, HSP will mail the copies to you when they are completed and include the cost of postage in the fee for your order.

In some rare cases, documents that are particularly fragile cannot be photocopied. If this should occur to you, our library staff may put you in contact with our Rights and Reproductions office who can more safely produce images. 

High-Quality Images and Reproductions

To receive high-quality images of documents, either in digital or printed reproduction form, please contact Rights and Reproductions. Pricing will be based on the order itself.

Lost and Found

Any lost items that are found in the Library are turned in to the Front Desk. They will be kept for up to six months whereupon they will be donated. If you are inquiring about a lost item, please contact Visitor Services.

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