Research Library: FAQs, Forms, Policies, Services

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  • Forms

  1. Image Scanning Rates
  2. Obituary Request
  3. Publishing Agreement
  4. Researchers for Hire
  5. Scholar Pass Application (for using manuscript material)

  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is there someone who will help me when I come to the Library?

Absolutely! A professional librarian is always on duty during the Library's public service hours, Wednesdays through Saturdays, 1-5 pm plus 6-8 pm every Wednesday evening. Appointments are not necessary.  We will help you find what you need. For research assistance at other times, please email us.

Can you find my ancestors for me?

We are happy to suggest where you should look but our staff is too small to undertake research assignments. If you live too far away to visit, we have a list of Researchers for Hire who can conduct research on your behalf. They are not affiliated with the Museum and charge an hourly rate.  Our genealogical services are limited to obituary searchingThis page will help you find the records you want, many of which are not in our possession.

Do you have the plans & blueprints for my house?

While we did manage to collect some architectural records, plans, and drawings from a few key firms in Buffalo, nearly all of these plans and drawings are for public buildings such as schools, churches, and hospitals. Only a few large mansions are included.

I heard that my house is historic and that you have restrictions on it. Is that true?

We are pleased to reassure you that we are strictly in the museum business and we have no legal authority over anyone else's property.  To determine if your building is formally landmarked or is in a designated historic district, please take a look at Local Landmarks in Buffalo, NY.  Questions about designated landmarks and historic districts can be answered by the Buffalo Preservation Board.

I heard that you have pictures of every house in Buffalo. Is that true?

We sorely wish we did! While we do have over 30,000 pictures of houses in Buffalo and the towns & villages of Erie County, we do not have everyone's house.  Our pictures are not digitized or online, so an in-person visit is needed to view them.

Do you have vintage motion picture or video footage of Buffalo?

We are sorry to report that we do not have a substantial film collection.  Our oldest film is of the dedication of the Peace Bridge (1927).  Comparable footage is online here. After that, we have very little until the advent of commercial VHS tapes and DVDs. To find period Buffalo footage, we suggest these providers.

I found some old newspapers in my walls. Would you like them?

We appreciate the thought, but newspapers found in the walls of houses are usually fragmentary, brittle, dirty, and prone to pests, mold, and mildew, making them a hazard to library and museum collections. We are unable to accept them. Instead, we are pleased to offer Buffalo's major newspapers on microfilm, which is safe and sturdy.

Where can I get coffee and a snack?

The Museum does not have an on-site cafe and the Library is a no food-and-drink room. However, you are welcome to bring and enjoy your own refreshments in the State Court.  Plus, there are many good restaurants near us.

Do I have to lock up my purse?

Yes, we have small private lockers for bags, purses, briefcases, backpacks, etc.

What about cell phone use?

As a courtesy to other guests, the Library is a no-cell zone. Please turn off or silence your phones and take calls outside in the State Court.

Can I bring in my laptop or tablet?

Absolutely, computers are welcome. The Research Library has free Wifi and power strips for plugging in. But cameras may not be used in the Library without first checking with the librarians.

Can I use my favorite special pen?

We have favorite pens, too, but the Library is a pencil-only facility. This prevents inadvertent ink marks on books and papers. We have pencils all over the Library in case you didn’t bring one.

Are there special handling requirements in the Library?

Thank you for asking! Cotton gloves are required whenever handling photographs. We have lots of gloves. Everything else, with a few exceptions, may be handled normally as long as your hands are clean and you proceed gently.

Can I get a scan of that photograph, letter, map, etc.?

All scanning is done by staff, size and condition permitting. We scan only for publication or exhibition purposes. Service fees apply. We do not scan for personal use. Personal scanners may not be used in the Library. Instead, condition permitting, we will provide a good-quality black & white photocopy marked with our ownership. We also provide special-order museum-quality reproductions. We reserve the right to refuse a scanning request on size, condition, copyright, or any other grounds.

Where can I make photocopies?

All photocopying is done by staff, size and condition permitting. For in-person researchers, photocopies are $.25 each for letter & legal size and $.50 each for 11x17.” When requested by email or telephone, our fee is $10 to copy and mail out the first 1-20 pages. We do not have color copying capability. Some materials may not be photocopied, including city directories and atlases.  We reserve the right to refuse a photocopy request on size, condition, copyright, or any other grounds.

Can I take pictures in the Library?

If you like our room (we have a lovely stained glass window!), but please check with librarians before taking pictures of library books, pictures, documents, or other artifacts.

How long does it take to get out the items that I would like to see?

Nearly all books, manuscripts, and pictures can be retrieved in under 10 minutes. We do not pull items in advance, mostly because our collections are so ample that we have no unused shelves for temporary “hold” purposes. However, please be aware that most oversized maps, plans, drawings, and posters are in off-site storage and cannot be pulled on demand. Retrievals of oversized items are scheduled once a week.

I’d like to use something from the library in my social media site, book, term paper, thesis, film, advertising campaign, etc.

Library property, including pictures, may not be published, exhibited, displayed, digitized, or put online without a written agreement. Scanning is a fee-based service and is done only for publication or exhibition. If you merely wish to quote a book or document in your work, all we ask is that you use a standard citation style to cite your sources.

Can I bring my kids into the Library?

Children are welcome in the Library, though we do limit what children may casually handle while in the Library. Parents should be aware that the Library does not have children's books, children's furniture, or children's activities. Many items in the Library are too rare or fragile for children's homework assignments.