First, let me advise all patrols of libraries: notice this is a service provided to you. Let's keep the welcome mat out to all who enter these repositories.
Come prepared: Equip yourself with pencils (pens are not allowed in an archival setting), paper, and change for copiers, printers, parking fees, research fees, and/or a donation to the repository.
Know what you are looking for: Be very clear about the subject of your visit and bring along all supporting documentation so that you can give the staff the parameters of your search and what you have already tried. Have your notes on a research report and "what you need to look for" sheet. Be as familiar as possible with the resources of that repository so that you are sure you are in the right place. Check out their website, speak to other researchers, and for goodness sakes, make a phone call to the repository to find out what you need to know. Suggestions: hours, fees, motels, and diners
Respect staffing constraints: Almost all repositories are chronically understaffed and that means that staff, including volunteer time, has to be managed very efficiently. It is a good idea to identify yourself to the staff and tell them exactly why you are there. They may know of someone else who is working on the same family as you are. This is their neck of the woods. Remember that their time is a valuable resource, so try to use it efficiently.
Respect other researchers: First of all, the repository is not your babysitter. If you bring your children with you, it is your responsibility to ensure they do not disturb other researchers. It is not the staff's job to find them something to do while you research. Keep conversation low and to the point when researching. If there is a heavy demand on the computers, try to use your time on them as efficiently as possible.
Conform to the center's practices: Check for lists of procedures and guidelines for using the area that you will be researching in. If they want you to return books, documents, or films to a specific location rather than putting them back on the shelf, that is because researchers have often erred in replacing them, and they were difficult to find. Even if you are careful, the directive refers to you too.
Respect the resources: Handling these irreplaceable resources is a privilege that we treasure, yet there are still people who will tear out pages, remove documents, or otherwise damage the collection. If you observe such behavior, get up and report it to the reference staff immediately.
In leaving: When you are done and have cleaned up your materials and returned resources to the designated areas, don't forget to thank the staff who made your experience possible. If something good came from it, share it with them briefly in a note and leave it with the suggestion box or reference a staff member. It will certainly make someone's day.
I welcome comments, queries, and suggestions at: firstname.lastname@example.org attn: Ms. Sylvia Evans.