Following the changes to COVID-19 restrictions in the Washington D.C area, the Archives reading room reopened to external researchers on September 12, 2022. Learn more here.
The World Bank Group Archives preserves the records of enduring value of the World Bank Group and makes them available for research in the Archives reading room, or on-line once the digitization process is complete. Due to the unique and irreplaceable nature of archival material, in-person access to the original analog records is possible only in the Archives reading room in Washington, DC. If you are unable to come to the reading room, consult with the Archives, as we will be able to facilitate digitization of the materials at a later date.
The Archives also maintains a collection of reference works for use in the reading room, including histories of the World Bank, World Bank publications, and published works that are based on research in the World Bank Group Archives.
What to expect in the Archives reading room
Our procedures aim to protect the integrity of the historical materials the World Bank Group Archives preserves and ensure their continued access to researchers in the future.
Before your visit
Prior to visiting the Archives, complete an Access to Information Request Form. In your request, describe your research project in detail.
The reading room hours are from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, by appointment.
- Secure storage is provided outside the reading room to store books, papers, pens, newspapers, bags, briefcases, computer cases, coats, and umbrellas.
- Pencils and notepaper are provided for your use. Accidental marking of the records by pencil can be easily removed. Ink, marker pens, typewriter correction fluid, and post-it notes must not be used in the reading room.
- You may use a laptop, tablet or mobile phone in the reading room; electrical outlets and Guest Wifi are available. The carrying case for laptops and tablets must be left in the storage cabinet outside the reading room.
- Please bring only a minimal amount of personal papers, notes, and other items into the reading room. You may be asked to remove personal items if they appear to interfere with the operation of the research area.
- No food, drink, gum, candy, sticky fingers, or your personal hand sanitizer. Don’t bring anything into the reading room with the potential to stain or stick to paper or attract insects and rodents. Smoking is prohibited on World Bank Group premises.
- Researchers sign-in and out every time they enter or leave the reading room.
- The Archives recommends the use of a personal digital camera to make copies of documents. Please note that floodlights or flash photography is not permitted. Tripods are permitted if they do not take up excessive space.
- Camera stands are available for use.
- Personal copiers and electronic scanners are not permitted.
Handling the records
- Clean hands protect archival records. Please use our facilities to wash your hands often.
- Please handle records with care. Minimize damage to the records by turning pages slowly and carefully.
- Use only one box of records on the desk at a time. When you remove a file from a box, mark its place with the place cards available for this purpose.
- Archival records must remain on the desk and separate from your notes.
- Do not place objects, including paper clips and sticky notes, in or on the records. If you wish to mark your place to indicate records you want to refer to again, use the paper tabs provided. Do not lean on or trace over the records. Do not use a pencil as a pointer and do not make marks of any kind on the records.
- Do not rearrange or remove papers from file fasteners. If you suspect that material has been filed incorrectly or out of order, bring this to the attention of the Archivist – do not attempt to remedy this yourself.
- Return records to their boxes when you leave the reading room.
- When departing at the end of the day, please inform the Archives’ staff whether you have finished with the records.
Conditions of access
The records are solely for research purposes. You may make non-commercial use of the information. You may not, however, use the information for any commercial purposes, including, without limitation, reselling them, charging to access them, charging to redistribute them, or charging for derivative works based on them. The foregoing license is conditioned upon your providing proper attribution to The World Bank and its content providers. The World Bank authorizes the use of this material subject to the terms and conditions on its website.
The World Bank Group Archives reserves the right to revoke the research privileges of any person who does not abide by the reading room rules stated above or the Covid-19 prevantative measures followed by the Bank Group to provide a safe work environment.
Cost to access the Archives
There is no cost to access the holdings or information of the World Bank Group Archives.
Keeping each other safe and healthy
In response to Covid-19, the Bank Group has increased cleaning schedules for high-touch and common areas and uses nano-crystal cleaning agents that continue to clean after being left on a surface. Any loaned items (i.e., camera stands) will be properly sanitized following its use according to local health and safety guidelines.
- If you are feeling sick or have a fever on any day of your planned visit, please postpone your visit to the reading room and isolate until you are free of any fever or symptoms or after 24 hours.
- Face masks are strongly recommended in WBG building common areas and in the Archives reading room.