The studiezaal is the reading room. Most archives in the Netherlands have a reading room. Opening hours may vary, some smaller reading rooms are open by appointment only.
Thanks to large digitization projects and scanning on demand services, visiting reading rooms in person is often not necessary anymore since most of the research can be done online.
Typical reasons for me to visit the reading room are:
- To access records at a small archive, that doesn’t have a lot of information online yet.
- To access records at an archive that doesn’t offer scanning on demand.
- If I don’t know exactly which records I need. In the reading room, I can look at many different records in a short time. For example, some government records are stored chronologically, and then have indexes to look up the relevant volume and page numbers. Ordering scans for these multi-step processes can be time-consuming and expensive if the archive doesn’t offer free scanning-on-demand.
- To access the library, card catalogs, or other publications that are not in the public domain or not online.
- To access records that are not public yet, with prior permission. The restricted records I most often consult is the Central Archives of Special Jurisdiction, which contains the court records of the prosecution of collaborators after World War II. See Access to restricted records for more information.
If you plan to visit a reading room, here are some tips for doing on-site research in the Netherlands.