Using History Room Resources

We are happy to announce that the History Room is now open by APPOINTMENT for research.  Same-day and last-minute appointments are often available.  The reason for appointments is to make certain that we have what you need and that no more than 5 people are in the History Room at one time. 

To make an appointment, call 413  42O  81O7.  If no one answers, describe the nature of your research, leave your contact information, and wait for a confirmation.  We make every effort to return your call on the same day.  

Most appointments will be made for Tuesdays (10AM-2PM and 3-6 PM) or  Wednesdays or Thursdays, 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM.  

Things to know before you make an appointment:

  • Most appointments will be for approximately 1-2 hours.   
  • Visitors and staff are required to wear masks in our building.  Please wear a mask covering mouth and nose all all times when visiting the History Room.  
  • Please note that Library bathrooms are currently closed to the public. 
  • Researchers will sign in and provide contact information. 
  • You are welcome to sanitize your hands before you arrive, but we will ask you to remove the sanitizer with our alcohol-free wipes when you arrive at the History Room.  Do not apply hand sanitizer while using any historical materials.
  • Please be aware that, during this time, we cannot provide close-contact assistance with databases and microfilm readers.  If you need this kind of assistance, we recommend instead that you request a remote research appointment and we will assist you via telephone, email, or Zoom.

Here are some things we recommend that you bring:

  • A camera, smartphone, or tablet for making non-damaging, non-flash copies of items that may be copied (some cannot be copied).  We do not have self-serve photocopying in the History Room.  We do not permit portable scanners.
  • Your own paper and pencil for taking notes (we use only pencils here to protect the materials).  Laptops and tablets are also allowed.
  • If you are using our modern microfilm reader, there are three ways to make copies of what you find:
    • Save to a usb drive (bring your own; or we can sell you a small usb for $3)
    • Print to our printer (.10-.25 per page—please bring exact change)
    • Send the item to your email (make sure you have  with you the information you need to log into your email)

A reminder that the bathrooms at the Library remain closed.


General Information (see above for current modification of these guidelines):

History Room resources can provide an excellent starting point for research into many aspects of Holyoke history. All materials must be used onsite. Before your visit, please review these guidelines for using the collections.  Following these guidelines helps us ensure long term public access to these materials.

Access to Collections

Items from the collections may not be borrowed or checked out. Please see our Duplication policies if you need copies of any items for study.

Reading Room collections are available for use during open hours without an appointment. Most archival collections, however, must be retrieved from storage. Ideally, let us know at least 24 hours in advance of your visit, so that the requested items can be retreived for you.

The microfilm edition of The Holyoke Transcript and Transcript-Telegram from 1882-1993 is available for viewing during regular Reading Room hours without an appointment.  Occasionally, users may be limited to 1 hour of microfilm reader use if others are waiting. All microfilm readers allow printing for a small fee.  One microfilm reader also allows saving newspaper page images to PDF or JPG.

Two public access computers are available in the History Room for online historical and genealogical research.  Thanks to the Friends of the Holyoke Public Library, patrons may now access Ancestry Library Edition from any HPL computer. Regular Library computer time limits apply.  If you are an out-of-state visitor and unable to log into our computers, let a History Reading Room staff member know.

Assistance and Guidelines

The Reading Room is always staffed during open hours so that we can provide assistance to patrons. With rare exeptions, we provide original materials for research use.  In order to preserve these materials for long term use by the public, we expect visitors to observe these guidelines:

  • Storing personal items and coats in the locker area of the Reading Room
  • Using only pencils while working with materials
  • Not bringing food or drink into the Reading Room
  • Observing any specific handling guidelines you are given
  • Working at a table or other work surface, so that materials are well-supported while in use

Patrons using any archival collection must complete a short patron registration form.

Copies of the complete guidelines are available in the Reading Room.

Duplication and Duplication Fees

With some exceptions, patrons may use non-flash photography to copy research material for personal use. Staff will assist you in this process.
Due to the fragile nature of most of our materials, we do not permit self-service photocopying of manuscripts or books. Except in the case of oversize, extremely fragile items, or tightly bound items, our staff can provide copies or PDF scans of needed material. We can copy certain items on the spot, but cannot generally offer same day service on scans or large copy orders.  Please also note that we do not copy entire written works.  See the fee schedule below.

The fragile nature of most materials means that we cannot permit the use of portable scanners.

All copies, photographs, and scans are for personal, research use only. If you wish to display, duplicate or publish an image of an item in the collection, please ask for a copy of our duplication policy. We reserve the right not to copy material if we believe this may be in violation of U.S. copyright law.

Photocopy orders $.25 per page

Microfilm printing $.25 per page

Newspaper items (including obituaries, if we mail or email to you) $2.00 per page, PDF. 

Image scans (JPG, TIFF): $5.00 per scan

Multi-page PDFs:  please contact us for fees 

Images burned to CD or DVD (if too large to email):$5.00 per disc

Checks should be made out to the Holyoke Public Library.

Research Correspondence and Inquiries

Research requests should be directed to the archivist of the History Room and Archives (Holyoke Public Library, 250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke, MA 01040 OR A research question or a request for single obituary takes an average of 7-14 days depending on the complexity of the request.  Any relevant information that researchers provide will speed up the search process. Patrons with reference inquiries not requiring History Room resources may be referred to a Reference Librarian.

Obituary requests generally require a full name and date (or at least month and year) of death.

We do not charge a fee for brief inquiries for historical information.Complex research questions generally require a personal visit.