COVID-19 Update: The Los Altos History Museum’s Collections Office and Reference Library are currently closed to the public in response to COVID19 safety guidelines. We thank you for your patience as our responses to research and artifact donations may be delayed at this time. For more information to general collections inquiries or image/film use/reproduction, please contact us at research@losaltoshistory.org.

The Los Altos History Museum Collections Committee is proud to provide research opportunities through our reference library, archives, special collections and collections. A majority of our collections are housed on-site in our vault, collections office and reference library. The Museum welcomes all members of the public, including local residents and visitors to the region, to utilize the reference libraries and collections.

Make An Appointment

All research inquiries and appointments requests must be made online using the Inquiry & Appointment Form below. A staff member or Collections Committee member will contact the researcher within two weeks of receiving the inquiry and appointment request. If you have additional questions, please contact research@losaltoshistory.org.

We encourage researchers to make their inquiry as specific as possible, including deadlines and record information, in order to best assist the researcher’s needs. Appointments to view and examine material first-hand are generally made available on Tuesdays and Thursdays, although arrangements may be made for alternative times.

Onsite Rules and Procedures

Accepted museum practices in the care and handling of artifacts will be enforced. Not all items in the Los Altos History Museum Collection are available for research; reasons include safety and security of artifacts, exhibiting requirements, and loans to other institutions. Researchers must follow the directions of staff and research volunteers at all times. The Museum reserves the right to reject a request for research or to ask a researcher to cease work and leave the Museum at any time. Theft or mutilation of items are crimes that will be prosecuted by the appropriate law enforcement agency. Photocopying and scanning are done at the discretion of the Collections or Museum staff in order to protect copyright, avoid possible legal issues, and for security and preservation of items in the Collection.

Personal Belongings

All belongings such as coats, backpacks, computer cases, file boxes, packages or bags must be left at a space specified by Museum staff or volunteer. Cameras and scanning equipment are only allowed with the permission of a Collections staff member. Researchers may have paper, notecards, a personal laptop computer, tape recorder and pencils when looking at materials. Please note, pens and open-lid drinks are NOT allowed due to potential and accidental damage to the Collection material.

Conducting Research

  • Researchers are allowed up to three (3) files or items at a time, at the discretion of staff or collections volunteers, and will be requested to keep hands clean and wear white gloves (provided by the Museum) when handling original materials and artwork.
  • Researchers must ask and/or be escorted by staff before entering and exiting the vault
  • Note-taking must be done with #2 (or similar) non-colored pencils. No pens of any kind are permitted. Do not lean items or place paper or notepads on top of the documents while taking notes. Please respect and be sensitive to the historic material that requires careful handling.
  • Do not attempt to make corrections, erasures, or any other marks on research material.
  • Do not attempt to make any repairs to collections material and artifacts.
  • Upon completion of viewing the object/file/material at hand, please notify staff. Museum staff or collections volunteers will re-file all materials.
  • Unless granted approval, museum staff or collections volunteers will make photocopies on your behalf.

Research Inquiry & Appointment Form

Please complete the following form to submit your research inquiry and begin the appointment process.

Research Inquiry & Appointment Form

Research Inquiry & Appointment Form

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