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Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to all of the things you've been wanting to know
What can I expect when I visit?
The Grand Rapids History & Special Collections Department has the same hours as the Main Library. You do not need a library card to use our collections. Since we offer reference material, the books on our floor do not circulate. Please note that while covered beverages are allowed on other floors of the library, no food or beverage (including water) is permitted on the 4th floor.
How do I request research assistance?

Contact us with details of your research request. Due to the time and staff resources involved in researching answers to local history, genealogy, and furniture questions, some fees apply to certain types of requests. We encourage researchers to come to our library to be assisted for free.

Family history queries can also be submitted to the Western Michigan Genealogical Society research committee.

How do I access your archival collections?

You can search our finding aids here. When you arrive, you will fill out a request card for each folder or box. All materials are stored on-site. If you would like any guidance in searching or in preparing your requests, please contact us.  

How can I donate?

We are always looking for items to tell the story of our community, from the recent past to the 1800s. If you have unique books, papers, letters, scrapbooks or photographs you think would contribute to this cause, please contact us.

If you are interested in making a monetary donation, please contact the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation.

How do I order copies of photographs?

Copies of images in our Archival Collections and Digital Collections can be ordered as digital files. For additional information and pricing, please visit our Order Form.

Do you have yearbooks?

Yes – we collect high school yearbooks for the Grand Rapids area, as well as Grand Rapids Community College yearbooks. You can view a full listing here.

Do you have city directories?

Yes – we have city directories for Grand Rapids and Kent County, ranging from 1856 to the present. We also have city directories for surrounding areas such as Battle Creek, Grand Haven, Hastings, Holland-Zeeland, Kalamazoo, and Muskegon. You can search our catalog for a complete listing.

Questions about copyright issues?

Cornell University has a great guide for understanding copyright terms and the public domain.