How do I enter the Research Room?

Are you about to embark on an exciting journey of research at SLNA? The following rules are designed to help you in that process.

  • You must be over 18 years of age. No persons under 18 years of age can enter without a guardian.
  • If it is your first visit to the Research Room, or if you need to renew your pass , you must bring a copy of your NIC or passport details page. (Please bring a copy of your passport and leave it at the front desk at the entrance.)
  • You must present valid identification (passport, driver’s license, government-issued ID card or other photo identification with your NIC number) at the reception to obtain a visitor’s pass which you must always wear.
  • Go to the Public Relations Office (PRO).
  • State in your application form for a reader’s pass the period for which you need access to the Research Room. You may obtain an access card for six months.
  • The PRO will give you a reader’s pass and a ticket. The pass is not valid until you have signed it on the reverse after reading and understanding these research rules.
  • You may now proceed to the Research Room. Always keep your access card with you for perusal.
  • Keys to lockers are provided for your bags and other personal items by the security. You must show all material that you are taking into and out of the Research Room to the security for screening. Please note that all personal items may be subject to security screening at the discretion of the staff. 
  • Hand over the ticket to the staff in the Research Room.
  • Sign the attendance register. You must sign this register every day you visit the Research Room, regardless of whether you consult any documents or not.

You may not smoke, drink or eat anything inside the Research Room.

What can I bring inside?

  • You are welcome to bring pencils, notebooks, loose-leaf paper and a magnifying glass. However, please refrain from bringing file covers and cases.
  • Please leave all bags, briefcases and laptop bags and cases in your locker.
  • You may use a published book in your possession for your reference in the Research Room subject to showing it to the security at the entrance of the Research Room and completing a form for it with the approval of the officer-in-charge. 
  • You may bring your laptop, tablet and mobile phone inside.Ensure that your phone is on silent mode and that the sound is off on your laptop while inside the Research Room. Please switch off keypad tones to avoid disturbing others. Phone calls are not permitted inside the Research Room
  • If you have paid to take photographs of documents, you may bring your camera inside. Ensure that both the flash and sound are turned off.
  • Sharp objects such as scissors, knives, and pencil sharpeners are not permitted inside the Research Room.

How do I request for documents?

  • You may have questions for the O.I.C. at the Research Room for guidance with your research. We will attempt to help you as time permits. We have three guidelines in dealing with enquiries:
    • We have certain categories of records for which we carry out searches regularly, subject to certain fees;
    • We can clarify the nature and extent of our holdings and indicate how they may relate to your interests;
    • It is your responsibility to undertake the research needed to answer your enquiry, we cannot conduct the research.
  •  Keep in mind that as a rule our archival records are arranged by provenance, meaning the institution or person from whom the records originated.
  • If the documents you want are in the restricted category such as land records or confidential records, you will be required to write a letter of request for them. If produced, you may read them only at the desk designated for restricted access. You may read them at another desk only with the permission of the officer on duty.
  • Our library is mainly houses reference material that you need to use together with archival material and does not serve as a regular library. You may visit the National Library and Documentation Services Board or the Colombo National Museum Library for this purpose.
  • Write out a separate requisition form for each item you require. These forms are available at your desk or with the O.I.C. Fill in all required information clearly.
  • You can request up to three items at a time, except by special permission. While we will ensure that you receive your items as soon as possible, please note that archival documents are kept in controlled storage under secure conditions and therefore take time to produce. You may request your next three items in advance of finishing with the items that you already have, to minimise delay.
  • If you’re ordering more than six documents per day, you will be required to pay for the service of issuing the extra documents. Please ask for our charges from the staff. No charges apply for library books or the books deposited in the Research Room.

Search the Catalogues

Can I take pictures?

  • Requests for scans or photographs must first be made to the Officer-In-Charge who must ensure that the documents are not too fragile for scanning or photographing.
  • Ask for the request form and inquire about the costs of scans and photographs.
  • You must correctly flag the pages necessary for scanning or photographing.
  • Payment must be made to the Public Relations Office before 3 pm each day.
  • Show your receipt of payment for photographs to the O.I.C. before taking photographs.
  • Do not use the camera flash.

How do I use the documents?

  • When your items have arrived, they will be brought to your desk.
  • When you have finished with the items requested, return them immediately to the staff. Until then, you will be responsible for them. For large folio volumes, you may request the help of the office assistants.
  • If you wish to continue work on items on the following days, mark each item with an ‘R’ flag and inform the O.I.C. Unless under special permission documents will be retained only for two working days.
  • Requests for archival documents must be handed in before 3.30 pm on the day of production. All archives must be returned to the officers on duty by 4 pm.
  • Certain fragile or especially valuable documents cannot be examined or must be examined under special conditions. The final decision in this regard will be taken by the Director General, National Archives.
  • Public access terminals are provided for access to SLNA databases only.


How should I handle the archives?

  • Handle archives as little as possible. Always handle archival material and library books with care.
  • You must not write on or mark any original archival documents in any way.
  • Do not take documents out of the Research Room.
  • Ensure that your hands are clean and free from lotions that may stain and add to the deterioration of records.
  • Never moisten or lick fingers to turn pages.
  • Always use a pencil, never a pen or marker. You cannot use correcting fluid or erasers. Pencils can be sharpened at the designated location in the Research Room.
  • Never use adhesive stickers to mark pages (or ‘Post-it’ type sticky notes). When you wish to flag items, use only the paper flags provided at each desk. Do not remove flags already inserted into documents.
  • Turn the pages carefully one at a time, ideally from the top right-hand corner. Be careful not to damage the documents.
  • Do not rest your hand, arm, or lean on or place any object on archives or books. Do not fold documents or place them with your notes and papers.
  • Keep volumes, files or loose pages flat on your table or document cradle; do not hold them in your hands. Archives must always be fully supported.
  • Maintain the order or arrangement of documents in each folder. If documents appear to be out of sequence, please inform the staff. Do not attempt to rearrange them yourself.
  • Do not tap pages down on the table to realign them. Gently arrange them with your hands as well as you can.
  • Notify staff if any materials are damaged so that they can be referred to our conservation unit. Report any accident to a document immediately.
  • Do not make tracings on archival records.
  • Note that you can be prosecuted under Article 17 (1) of the National Archives Law No. 48 of 1973 for destroying, defacing, marking on, mutilating, or causing damage to any record, manuscript or document deposited in the National Archives.

If you must consult with anyone in the Research Room, including staff, please be as quiet as possible. Refrain from disturbing others.

It is the duty of the staff to ensure compliance with the rules. Failure to observe them may result in the records you are using being removed or your reader’s pass being cancelled.

The Research Room is open from Monday to Friday on working days from 9 am to 4 pm.

Supervising Officer

Department of National Archives Sri Lanka

Department of
National Archives
Sri Lanka

Last Modified: 2024-05-29 09:58:09~ Server Time: 2024-07-14 09:12:09