Nova Scotia Archives

Reference and Research

Reading Rooms

Reading Rooms

Two large Reading Rooms (Microfilm and Archival) are located on the 3rd floor.  These Reading Rooms provide public access to Reference Services Staff and ample space for researchers working with archival materials.


Genealogical Reference

Genealogical Reference assistance is available during all open hours.  On their first visit, all researchers interested in family history are encouraged to consult with the front-line Archival Assistants on duty. They will help you find your way!


Archival Reference

Archival Reference assistance is available in the Reading Rooms weekdays from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.  On their first visit, all researchers undertaking complex research are encouraged to consult with the Reference Archivist on duty.  This staff person provides in-depth assistance in: accessing Nova Scotia Archives holdings; using finding aids, card catalogues, inventories and lists; suggesting research strategies; and filling out request slips.

* Please note that on Wednesday evenings and Saturdays only Archival Assistants are available for consultation.


Services on Wednesday Evening and Saturday

The Reading Rooms are open for extended hours from 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm on Wednesday and from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday.  During these extended open hours the following limited services are available:

Archival Assistants are available for consultation.  Researchers have access to:

  • all open shelf microfilm holdings (20,000 reels)
  • selected digitized map and photograph holdings
  • all finding aids and card catalogues
  • extensive genealogical resource tools
  • selected library holdings 
  • pre-booked archival and library materials

Information on pre-booking is available elsewhere on this website.


Retrieval Procedures 

Staff are available to assist researchers in completing request slips for retrieving materials. Please note that retrieval of materials ceases 30 minutes prior to closing time and is not available on Wednesday evenings or Saturdays.

Access to or use of the following kinds of archival records may be delayed or restricted because of their physical condition or content: oversized items; fragile material; some Government Records; documentary art; special media (film and sound).  Every effort will be made to accommodate retrieval requests with limited delay. Nova Scotia Archives reserves the right to restrict retrieval of material previously available, based on the current physical condition of the records.

Pick-up and return of material:  Designated areas for pick-up and return are located near the elevators in the Archival Reading Room.  All material must be returned 15 minutes prior to closing time.

Researchers may work with one box of original material, three files, or five items (e.g., maps, photographs, etc. ) at any one time.

For example:

Archival Holdings

Sample Request Slip - Archives

and Library Holdings

Sample Request Slip - Library


Microfilm Holdings

Access: Microfilm, microfiche, access catalogues and viewing equipment are all located in the Microfilm Reading Room.  Most microfilms are stored in numbered boxes on self-service shelving. Red bands on a microfilm box indicate that the contents may not be saved nor printed (you may make notes for personal research).

Microfilm equipment: On busy days, researchers may be asked to restrict use of microfilm machines to a 30-minute session. Equipment may be used only for microfilm held by the Nova Scotia Archives or ordered through the Nova Scotia Archives Inter-library Loan Service. Researchers may not bring in their own microfilms or those obtained from other institutions.

Returning microfilms: When you are finished – please rewind the film and return it in its box, to the baskets provided. Restricted items obtained from the Retrieval Desk should be returned there.


General Research Regulations

Noise Levels: As a courtesy, please refrain from unnecessary noise when consulting with staff or other researchers. Mobile phones should be set to silent or vibrate at all times. As a courtesy in the Reading Rooms to other researchers, please conduct your phone conversations in the area behind the elevators on the 3rd floor.

Pencils Only: Using ink, ball-point or felt-tip pens is absolutely prohibited. Pencils are available in the Reading Rooms.

Care of Material: Please do not mark, fold or lean on research material, or touch it with pencils or sharp objects. When taking notes, don’t use documents, books or other archival material as a support for your paper. Please do not rearrange material that appears to be out of order; instead, please notify staff if you find disorganized or damaged material. Use of certain fragile items will require wearing protective cotton gloves, which staff will provide.

Personal Computers: Both Reading Rooms are extensively wired for personal computers and free WiFi is available.

Cameras and Recording Devices: May not be used to copy or record archival or library material without prior consultation with the Reference Archivist.

Scanning Equipment: Hand-held scanners and similar scanning devices are not permitted.


Copying and Use of Archival and Library Holdings

Reproduction and use of archival and library materials held by the Nova Scotia Archives are subject to Canadian copyright law, donor agreements and the physical condition of the material. Researchers are responsible for all questions of copyright that may arise in the provision or use of reproductions. Please see the Nova Scotia Archives' Copying and Use Protocols for Archival and Library Holdings for further details.

No public photocopying facilities are available.  Please see Copying Services for detailed information on the services available.