Group Visits to the Library

We welcome on-site and virtual visits by classes of students from middle school through college, as well as other community or professional groups who are interested in learning more about Minnesota history research through our collections. 

Group visits and virtual orientations to the Gale Family Library are free of charge. However, these visits are separate from the paid museum field trip experiences. If you are interested in visiting the History Center's museum, please visit the field trips page to make arrangements for group admission.

Setting up a visit

1. Groups of ten or more are accommodated on Wednesdays only. Groups of four to nine people are accommodated during regular open hours, and special activities are not available at this time; please check the library hours page for open days and times. Advanced appointments are recommended.

  • In order to ensure staff and space availability, please contact us about your proposed date and time before making of other arrangements (transportation, museum tickets, permission slips, etc.). At least three weeks prior notice is required.

2. Consider your group’s objectives or goals for the visit.

  • MNHS collections have a Minnesota focus. People researching topics not involving Minnesota, its citizens, or its perspectives on the larger world may want to try a different source.
  • Digital orientations or classes can be offered as a standalone experience or as a primer ahead of an on-site visit. This is an excellent option for college classes or History Day students. Orientations are one hour long and include a basic overview of collections and how they are organized and accessed.  Instruction on using the library and archives catalog, Collections Online, and/or other search tools can be included by request. This experience can be customized based on your group’s topic(s), level of research experience, and other needs. Times are arranged with library staff, Mondays – Fridays preferred.  

Groups visiting the library on Wednesdays may choose one or more of these options: 

Structured learning: Librarians are able to offer the following basic experience(s) as part of a group visit. 

Option 1: Library 101 Orientation (1 hour): A basic overview of collections; how collections are organized and accessed; and a review of resources, equipment, and services in each location. Instruction on using the library and archives catalog, Collections Online, and/or other search tools. This experience can be customized based on your group’s topic(s), level of research experience, and other needs.  Please note: there is a size limit of 25 people for this activity.  For larger groups, please see the virtual orientation option.

Option 2: Show-and-Tell from the Collections (30 Minutes): Librarians will pull five to seven different types of materials related to a particular theme to give your group a sense of our holdings and what they can learn from them.  Items will be shown in the library reading room and may not include 3D artifacts.  This option may be tailored to specific group interests or curriculum with four weeks minimum advance notice. 

Option 3: Hubbs Research Activity (30 Minutes): Staff will introduce the different types of microfilm machines and demonstrate how to use them, then researchers will be guided through finding and using microfilm. This option can be tailored to a group’s interest or focus by location, year, or event with advanced notice. Please note: there is a size limit of 25 people for this activity.

Option 4: Hands-On Research Time (1-3 hours): Groups are welcome to conduct independent research during a visit. There is a general limit of 3 total hours (including orientation) for this option, though longer times may be possible on a case by case basis.

  • Those without prior experience in our library should select a "Library 101 Orientation" (in person or digital) as a part of their research visit.

  • Groups with research objectives should schedule at least two hours in the library to allow for material delivery and adequate time with the resources.

3. Let us know when you would like to come.  Email with the subject "Group Visit Request" at least 3 weeks prior to your proposed visit.  Your email should include:

  • Your organization, contact information, group size, and the age range of participants

  • First, second, and third choices for potential dates and times, including the total time you wish to visit

  •  What activities you would like your group to participate in

  • Any special areas of interest, study, or other pertinent information

  • Any accessibility arrangements needed (the library is ADA accessible)

4. If you will be doing hands-on research, request materials before your class or group arrives. This will minimize initial wait times for your group members.

  • Search the library catalog to identify books, manuscripts, or archival materials you would like to see. 
  • For group visits there is a limit of two items per person on advance material requests. You will receive an advanced request form link in your group visit confirmation email.

5. You will receive a confirmation of your group visit reservation. It will include information about pre-visit resources, day-of-visit procedures, and contact information for the staff member working directly with your group.    

Other questions?

Contact us at or 651-259-3300.