Regulations for Work of Users in Reading Rooms of the State Archives of the Republic of Belarus

1. General Provisions

1.1. The Regulations for Work of Users in Reading Rooms of the State Archives of the Republic of Belarus (hereinafter: Regulations) have been formulated in accordance with the current Legislation of the Republic of Belarus.

1.2. The Regulations establish rules for users’ work with open (i.e. declassified) documents in reading rooms of the state archives of the Republic of Belarus.

1.3. The working rules, obligations of archival employees for service of users in the reading rooms, and their responsibility are determined by laws and regulations of the Republic of Belarus, and by the legal regulations of the State Archival Service of the Republic of Belarus.

1.4. All users have equal rights of access to documents in archives.

1.5. Fees are not charged for using reading rooms, documents, and finding aids.

1.6. Paid services are offered to users by archives in accordance with the current legislation of the Republic of Belarus.

1.7. On the basis of the present Regulations each archive can produce a document setting forth the rules for the use of archival materials in their reading rooms, taking into consideration the specific character of their content  and the particularities of operation of their archives. The aformentioned documents must not contradict the present Regulations.

1.8. The working procedure of reading rooms is to be established by the administration of the individual archives.

2. Instructions for Admittance of Users to Archival Reading Rooms

2.1. Users are admitted to reading rooms on the basis of a personal letter of application. Users conducting research in accordance with official workplans of scholarly institutions or fulfilling institutional work orders should supply appropriate letters from their sponsoring organizations.

2.2. Foreign users are admitted to reading rooms on the basis of an official letter from the host organization, diplomatic consulate, and other foreign institutions and should provide a personal letter of application as well.

2.3. Personal applications or official letters should include the family name, first name, and patronimic of the user, position, scholarly rank, highest educational degree, the topic and chronological dates of their research.

2.4. Decision on admittance of foreign users to reading rooms is taken by each individual archive (central, regional or zonal) independently.

2.5. The order of work of foreign users in archival reading rooms is determined by the present Regulations.

2.6. The joint projects between the state archives and foreign institutions or individual persons are conducted on an agreement basis. Fees are not charged for the copies of archival records provided for these research.

2.7. Permission for work in the reading room is given by the archival administration for the period not over than one year from the date of authorization. Questions of needed extention should be resolved with the archival administration or reading room staff.

2.8. All users should familiarize themselves with the present Regulations and fill out a standard application form.

2.9. Reading room passes are issued upon the presentation of an official identification document by users.

3. Rights, Duties, and Responsibilities of Users

3.1. Archival reference materials (opisi, catalogues, surveys, lists, guides and other directories), files and documents including positive copies of motion pictures, photographic documents (in the form of positive prints or control copies on cards of archival photograph catalogues), sound documents related to the user’s research topic, as well as technical equipment for work with microform copies and audiovisiul documents should be available for users.

3.2. Users working in reading rooms of archives have a right:

3.2.1. To receive information about the working arrangements of reading rooms, the services performed through reading rooms, and the rules and conditions of availability of these services.

3.2.2. To receive consultations with archival specialists about the composition and contents of documents relating to the research subject, and about reference materials available in the archives.

3.2.3. To receive information, including in written form, about the reason for refusal (delay) to issue files (documents), existing restrictions on delivery and copying of documents related to the research topic.

3.2.4. To appeal the refusal  in delivery of archival documents in accordance with the current legislation of Belarus.

3.2.5. To use published and manuscript materials from the holdings of scientific reference libraries and reference-information facilities.

3.2.6. To order or prepare themselves copies of archival documents, take notes from  files, documents or reference materials charged out to them.

3.2.7. With the permission of the archival administration, to use personal technical equipment (personal computers, tape recorders, dictaphones, microcalculators). The use of technical equipment is permitted if it does not interfere with the work of other users. The use of technical equipment containing scanning devices (except cases stipulated in the paragraph 5.10 of the present regulations) is not permitted.

3.2.8. To bring into the reading room, by agreement with the head of the reading room (staff person), typed or printed texts and page proofs of scholarly work. A special pass should be issued for such materials. Handwritten materials can be taken in and out without a pass.

3.2.9. Users may be accompanied by interpreters and assistants.

3.3. Users are obliged to:

3.3.1. Observe the present “Regulations for Work in Reading Rooms of the State Archives of the Republic of Belarus”.

3.3.2. Sign in the reading room register on each visit.

3.3.3. Fill in the sheets of usage (listy ispolzovaniia) within all perused files, indicating the date of usage, last name and initials (legibly), nature of the work performed on the file (perusal of documents, taking notes, copying, with indication of pages).

3.3.4. After finishing work on each visit, return any opisi, files (storage units), published editions to the reading room staff person.

3.3.5. Observe technical requirements for using equipment and film during work with microforms or documents on special or electronic media.

3.3.6. Observe the reading room working routine, and keep quite and order during working hours.

3.3.7. Furnish the required reference to the source  for any archival information received that may be cited or published, i. e. indicate the name of the archive containing the documents and their reference data (fond, opis, file [storage unit], and folio number). 

3.3.8. Use the received archival information in commercial purpose only with the special permission (licence), the procedure to obtain which being stipulated in the “Regulations for Issue of Special Permissions (Licences) for Use in Commercial Purposes of the Information Contained in the National Archival Fond of Belarus Documents Held at the State Archives”, adopted by chairman of the Committee for Archives and Records Management of Belarus on 30 April 1999 and registered within the National Register of Legal Acts of Belarus (1999, No 44, 8/368).

3.3.9. Pass the documents received in the archive to any other person or institution only with the permission from the archival administration.

3.4. Users should present to the archive a copy of any publication prepared on the basis of documents received in the archive.

3.5. Users claimed guilty in causing damage to archival documents can be deprived of the right to use documents in the archive any more.

3.6. Users who committed acts that cause material loss to an archive bear responsibility according to procedures established by current laws and regulations of the Republic of Belarus.

4. Instructions for Delivery of Files, Documents, Microforms, Published Material, and Provision of Reference Aids

4.1. Files and other archival materials are delivered to users on the basis of completed order forms. The user has to sign in the order form for every unit of the archival material issued. The user’s signature certifies his responsibility for the document’s safety during the time of its use. 

4.2. 5 opisi (inventories), 10-20 files, or 10-20 units of film documents and sound documents with the recorded time of no more than 3 hours, 30-50 copies of scientific-technical documentation can be issued for use at one time.  The archival administration may establish other rules for charging out files and documents, considering the specific content of documents.

4.3. Opisi and other archival reference aids can be issued for up to 5 days; especially valuable documents for up to 5 days; unique documents, with the permission of the archival administartion,  for one day; files, microforms, published materials for one month. Extension of the time limit for keeping and using opisi, files, documents and other materials in reading rooms should be arranged with the staff of reading room (except the unique and especially valuable documents). Extension of the time limit for using unique and especially valuable documents is to be determined by the archival administration, with a new order form to be filled out if necessary. Time limit of the repeated delivery are to be established by the archival administration.

Archival materials are to be returned to the repository if the user does not visit the reading room for the time more than two weeks.

4.4. Time limit for delivery of opisi, files, documents and other materials are established by the archival administration but should not exceed 3 working days from the day they are ordered.

Reference materials and other printed editions, and copies of opisi that are kept in the reading room, are available to users on the day of order.

4.5. Records-creating institutions are provided with documents as many as required and as possible on the day of request. They do not fill in application form but sign in the register.

4.6. When copies for use (fondy polzovaniia) are available, original documents are not usually issued to the reading room. Original documents can be issued to users in exceptional cases, with the permission from the archival administration, considering the specific circumstances (f. e. the necessity to examine a document’s exterior appearance, malfunctioning technical equipment for work with microforms, poor quality of copies, a user’s medical condition preventing work with microforms and other circumstances).

4.7. Film, photographic and sound documents are issued to users only in the form of copies for work in the reading room.

4.8. Documents of private archives, transferred to the state archive for preservation, can be charged out on the terms agreed with the owner (creator) of these documents upon their transfer to the archive.

4.9. When documents are finally to be returned to the repository, the reading room staff person checks all the sheets in the file to comply with the completed order form, and if any of them are lost or damaged, he makes a report of damage or loss.

4.10. In order to ensure the continuing preservation of archival documents, it is not permitted:

4.10.1. To enter the reading room in overcoats, or to bring in briefcases, sport and utility bags, plastic sacks, umbrellas. Smoking or the consumption of food and drink is permitted only in specially designated areas.

4.10.2. To take files out of the reading room, to transfer files to a third person, to leave open files unprotected from sun and electric light for an extended period of time, to write or trace with a sheet of paper placed on top of documents, to bend corners of folios, to copy documents using tracing paper, to place alien object withion files, to move folios within unbound files or from one file to another.

4.10.3. While working with archival documents, to use glue, scotch-tape, markers, white-out for typewriters, carbon paper, ink pens, or scissors and other instruments.

4.11. It is prohibited to enter changes in the text of documents, or to make notes, corrections, and underlining on documents or file folders.

4.12. Upon receiving opisi, files and other materials, users should verify their conditions and state of preservation in the presence of reading room staff.

If a user finds any damage or defects in files, documents, and microforms, a missing folio within a file, or incorrect foliation, he should inform the reading room staff.

4.13. Delivery of files and documents may be refused or delayed in the case of:

— their poor physical condition;

— restriction on the use of documents, established in accordance with laws and regulations of the Republic of Belarus or by the creator of the fond (record group) upon transfer of documents to the archive for permanent preservation;

— necessity for the archival staff to work with the documents (reference work, thematic processing of fonds, preparation of informational reports to official inquiry by state agencies, preparation of documentary publications, preparation of preservation copies or copies for use, conducting inspection, appraisal, or inventorying of documents, restoration work or copying of the documents, declassification processing, etc.);

— loan of files and documents for temporary use by other institutions;

— issuance of documents to other users;

— display of the materials ordered on exhibition.

Files (records or documents) that have not been technically processed (arranged and described in opisi) are not issued to the reading room.

4.14. The decision on refusal in delivery of documents is taken individually in each specific instance:

by head or deputy head of the central agency in archives and records management — in accordance with item 1, part 8, article 28 of the Law of Belarus “On the National Archival Fond and Archives of the Republic of Belarus” (National Register of Legal Acts of Belarus, 1999, No.4, 2/11) ;

by head or deputy head of the archival institution — according to items 2, 3, and 4, part 8, article 28 of the aforementioned Law

User is informed on the refusal in access to archival documents within three days, in case of written requests by institutions or individuals – within 15 days, in specific instances – within one month upon the day of request.

5. Copying and Issuance of Copies of Archival Documents Ordered by Users

5.1. Xerox copies, microform copies, photographic prints, the positive copies of film and photographic documents are made upon the request of users, subject to the technical possibilities of the archives and the physical condition of the documents. The quality of copies prepared is ensured by the archives.

5.2. Orders for copying should be formulated by users on special order forms and transmitted to the reading room staff. Precise archival identification [fond, opis, unit, folios, etc.] should be indicated in the order request.

5.3. Copying of documents of the ‘Non-State Part’ of the National Archival Fond of the Republic of Belarus is conducted according to the terms established by the creators of the fonds [i.e. creating agencies of records or papers] or their legal successors (heirs), who transferred documents for permanent or depository retention in the archive.

Unless copying of documents is restricted by the terms established upon the transfer of documents to the archives, it is conducted according to general procedures.

5.4. Copying of documents that are subject to copyright (avtorskoe pravo), including documents of a creative nature and audiovisual documents, is performed in accordance with the current legislation of the Republic of Belarus.

5.5. The volume, time limit, and types of copies that can be prepared are regulated by the administration of the archive, in accordance with technical possibilities and physical condition of the documents.

Copying of documents is conducted upon the total payment by the user.

5.6. The copying of a complete fond or collection in its entirety can be done only with the permission of the Committee for Archives and Records Management of Belarus (Belkomarkhiv).

5.7. Orders for copying documents are not accepted, if the copying could cause physical damage to the documents or if the documents are in poor physical condition.

5.8. Requests for copying unique documents, especially valuable documents, and documents from files requiring opening the binding or restoration, must be approved by the archival administration in each specific instance.

5.9. The copying of unpublished opisi, catalogues, card files, databases, and other archival reference materials in their entirety on the request of users is not permitted. The permissible volume of copying should be decided with the archival administration in each specific instance.

5.10. In exceptional cases, with the absence of technical possibilities in the archive, copying of documents with the use of technical equipment belonging to users may be allowed.

Copying with the user’s technical equipment, including scanners, photograph cameras, video-cameras, etc., can be done only with the permission of the archival administration within their buildings and under supervision of the reading room staff.

Negatives of photocopies and microforms should be left free at the archive which submitted those documents. .

5.11. Upon approval of the archival administration users may be permitted on their own (independently) to copy pictorial and graphic materials, maps, plans, and technical drawings or to invite a specialist to do so (a draftsman, photographer, artist). In such cases the copying must be performed within the archive’s building and under staff supervision in observation of rules for ensuring the safety of the documents.

5.12. Copies of documents are issued to users or their authorized representatives upon their signature, or they may be sent to an indicated address. Negatives of photocopies and microforms are not issued to users. In specific cases, with the permission of the archival administration, they may be issued for temporary use by the institutions in charge of  restoration works or exhibition display.

5.13. Decision on giving permission to take copies of archival documents out of the Republic of Belarus is taken individually by the central, regional or zonal state archive in each specific instance.

Copies of archival documents can be sent to foreign users through their diplomatic consulate or host organization.

5.14. Organizations of the Red Cross and the International Search Service, as well as law-enforcement agencies searching for war criminals who committed crimes in WWII receive copies of archival documents free of charge.

5.15. Copies of partially declassified documents, prepared by the archive upon request of users, with the exclusion from the text of the classified parts, are issued according to general procedures.

5.16. A special pass, signed by a reading room head, should be issued to authorize the removal of copies from the territory of the archive.