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Notes for National History Day Student Researchers

Prohibited Materials: Pens, bags and backpacks are not allowed in the Archives. No food or beverages should be brought into the Library or Archives. Sack lunches that remain closed can be stored with student materials in the Library Reading Room.

Copies: Copies in both the Library and Archives must be made using a copy card. Copy cards, usable anywhere on campus, can be purchased with one dollar bills in the library. The actual copy card only costs 25 cents and the remaining 75 cents of the dollar used to purchase the card is automatically added to the value of the card. Copies cost 10-15 cents each and microfilm copies cost 25 cents. Students planning on making copies should bring enough one dollar bills since change for larger bills is not available at the WHS.

Digital Photography: Taking digital photos is often the best way to get a high-quality copy of a photograph for a project. Student research groups have special permission to use digital cameras in the Archives. Teachers or students should bring their own cameras for this purpose, unless they are with National History Day and have arranged in advance for NHD staff to be present with a camera.

Research Environment: We ask that students only go into the library stacks to find books and refrain from socializing there. Researchers working nearby and staff members in adjacent rooms are easily disturbed when students congregate in the stacks—even if the students do not intend to be disruptive. Please ask students to use the library tables in the research room as their research base. They are welcome to spread out with their materials and talk about their projects there.

Preparation: By searching the Library Catalog (formerly MadCat) and ArCat (the Archives Catalog) in advance, prepared students will have a more productive experience. Instructional handouts are included in this packet and preparation details are included on the next page. By “pre-searching,” students will be able to record useful items and begin researching at the library and archives as soon as possible.

Borrowing Library Materials: Interlibrary loan (ILL) can be a convenient means of borrowing library materials for use away from Madison.  With ILL you take citations for the items you want to borrow back to your hometown library, request the materials through the home library, and the libraries take care of all transportation issues. 

Persons applying for a WHS borrowing card must be Wisconsin residents and present identification that verifies both identity and current Wisconsin residential address.  The ID requirement excludes most K-12 students from borrowing materials, but adults accompanying a school group (teachers, school librarians or chaperones) are eligible for a WHS borrowing card.

If you wish to borrow WHS materials directly for members of a school group, please note the following:

  • Request your card early on during your group's visit – not as your group is getting ready to leave. Please have Wisconsin identification ready when you apply for the card.  The Library cannot issue borrowing cards to non-Wisconsin residents or to persons without Wisconsin ID.
  • All loans made on a borrowing card are the responsibility of the cardholder – even if they were borrowed for another person's use.
  • The loan period for most WHS items is 28 days.  We send an overdue notice to the cardholder the day after an item's due date, and two weeks later if necessary.  Many loans can be renewed, either online or by phoning or emailing the Library Circulation Office.  Please remember to be courteous. Many students use the library for research and may need to use the same research materials.
  • Items not returned or renewed within 28 days of the due date are considered “lost” and a bill for $95.00 per item is sent to the cardholder.  Distance from Madison is not considered grounds to waive a library fine.

There are several ways to return WHS Library materials:

  • Visit Madison to return them directly to the WHS Library.  A 24 hour book return is available outside the main entrance to our building.
  • Mail them to WHS Library Circulation, 816 State Street, Madison, WI 53706.  We strongly recommend using a trackable shipper.
  • WHS Library materials can be returned to any UW System library.  The most secure way to do this is to visit the library at your nearest UW campus and ask the staff for discharge receipts.  That will give you proof that the loans are off your library record.
  • Questions about this page? Email us
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