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Research Room

Opening Hours 9.00 am. – 4.00 pm.

The Research Room provides facilities for research by the public at the Head Office in Colombo and at the Branch Office in Kandy.

Archival finding aids, précis, and summary lists, indices and other guides to record groups are available in the Research Room.

Obtaining information from records

Public records deposited in the National Archives are open for the public. Some records are closed for access to the public. In the case of closed records they can be consulted after obtaining permission from the head of the records creating institution and with the consent of the Director General National Archives. The printed publications and newspapers published in the island since 1976 to date can be obtained from the National Library and Documentation Centre for reference. If they are not available there you may make a further request from the Department of National Archives. Newspapers published prior to 1976 can be obtained from this Department.

Facilities for research  in the Search Room

  • Chronological and alphabetical indices for Sinhala, Tamil and English Newspapers.
  • Indices for Record Groups.
  • Advice will be given by the staff of the Archives, on consulting archival material and finding aids.
  • Microfilm reading machines are available in the Microfilm Reading Room for readers

Printed Publications available in the Research Room

  • Government Gazettes - 1802-1900
  • Blue Books - 1821 – 1937
  • Sessional Papers - 1860 onwards
  • Administration Reports - 1867 onwards
  • Hansard - 1870 onwards
  • Civil Lists 1863 -1962
  • Almanac - 1815 -1861
  • Ordinances and Parliamentary Acts (from 1949 up to date)
  • Other publications -1885 onwards

Research room rules

Are you about to embark on an exciting journey of research at SLNA? The following rules are designed to help you in that process

  • You must be over 18 years of age.
  • If it is your first visit to the Research Room, or if you need to renew your pass to the Research Room, you must bring a copy of your NIC or passport details page.
  • You must present valid identification (NIC, passport, driver’s license, office ID card or other photo identification with your NIC number) at the reception to obtain a visitor’s pass which you must always wear.
  • Go to the Public Relations Office (PRO) and obtain an application form for a reader’s pass.
  • State in it the period for which you need access to the Research Room. You may obtain an access card for a maximum of six months.

  • The PRO will give you a reader’s pass and ticket. The pass is not valid until you have signed it on the reverse after reading and understanding these research rules.
  • You may now proceed to the Research Room. Always keep your access card with you for perusal.
  • Keys to lockers are provided for your bags and other personal items by the security. You must show all material that you are taking into and out of the Research Room to the security for screening. Please note that all personal items may be subject to security screening at the discretion of the staff.
  • Hand over the ticket to the staff in the Research Room.
  • Sign the attendance register. You must sign this register every day you visit the Research Room, regardless of whether you consult any documents or not.


  • You may bring in pencils, notebooks, loose-leaf paper and a magnifying glass. You must not bring in file covers and cases.

  • Leave all bags, briefcases and laptop bags and cases in your locker.
  • You may use a published book in your possession for your reference in the Research Room subject to showing it to the security in front of the Research Room and completing a form for it with the approval of the officer on duty.
  • You may take in your laptop, tablet and mobile phone. Ensure that your phone is on silent mode/mute and that your laptop has the sound off inside the Research Room. Please switch off key pad tones so as not to disturb your neighbours. You cannot talk on your mobile phone inside the Research Room.
  • You may take in your camera when you have paid to take photographs of documents (see box). Ensure that the flash and sound are turned off on your camera.
  • No sharp objects such as scissors, knives and pencil sharpeners are permitted inside the Research Room.

  • You may have questions for the officer on duty at the Research Room for guidance with your research. We will attempt to help you as time permits. We have three guidelines in dealing with enquiries:
    • We have certain categories of records for which we carry out searches regularly subject to certain fees;
    • We can make clear the nature and extent of our holdings and indicate ways in which they may relate to your interests;
    • It is your responsibility to undertake the research needed to answer your enquiry.
  • Keep in mind that as a rule our archival records are arranged by provenance, meaning the institution or person from who the records originated.
  • If the documents you want are in the restricted category such as land records or confidential records, you will be required to write a letter of request for them and if produced read them only at the desk for restricted access. You may read them at another desk only with the permission of the officer on duty.
  • Our library is mainly for reference material that you need to use together with archival material and does not serve as a regular library. You may visit the National Library and Documentation Services Board or the Colombo National Museum Library for this.
  • Write out a separate requisition form for each item you require. These forms are available at your desk. Fill in all required information clearly.
  • You can request up to three items at a time. While we will ensure that you receive your items as soon as possible, please note that archival documents are kept in controlled storage under secure conditions and therefore take time to produce. You may request your next three items in advance of finishing with the items that you already have, to minimise delay.
  • If you’re ordering more than six documents per day, you will be required to pay for the service of issuing the extra documents. Please ask for our charges from the staff. No charges apply for library books or the books deposited in the Research Room.
  • When your items have arrived, they will be brought to your desk.
  • When you have finished with the items requested, return them immediately to the staff. Till then, you will be responsible for them. For large folio volumes you may request the help of the office assistants.
  • If you wish to continue work on items on following days, mark each item with an ‘R’ flag and inform the officer on duty. Unless under special permission documents will be retained only for two working days.
  • Requests for archival documents must be handed in before 3.30 pm on the day of production. All archives must be returned to the officers on duty by 4 pm.
  • Certain fragile or especially valuable documents cannot be examined or must be examined under special conditions. The final decision in this regard will be taken by the Director General, National Archives.
  • Public access terminals are provided for access to SLNA databases only.

  • Requests for scans or photographs must first be made to the officer on duty who must ensure that the documents are not too fragile for scanning or photographing.
  • Ask for the request form and the costs of scans and photographs.
  • You must correctly flag the pages necessary for scanning or photographing.
  • Payment must be made to the PRO before 3 pm each day.
  • Show your receipt of payment for photographs to the officer on duty before taking photographs.
  • Do not use the camera flash.

  • Handle archives as little as possible. Always handle archival material and library books with care.
  • You must not write on or mark any original archival documents in any way.
  • Do not take documents out of the Research Room.
  • Ensure that your hands are clean and free from lotions that may stain and add to the deterioration of records.
  • Never moisten or lick fingers to turn pages.
  • Always use a pencil, never a pen or marker. You cannot use correcting fluid or erasers. Pencils can be sharpened at the designated location in the Research Room.
  • Never use adhesive stickers to mark pages (or ‘Post-it’ type sticky notes). When you wish to flag items, use only the paper flags provided at each desk. Do not remove flags already inserted into documents.
  • Turn pages carefully one at a time, ideally from the top right-hand corner. Be careful not to damage documents.
  • Do not rest your hand, arm, lean on or place any object on archival material or book. Do not fold documents or place them with your notes and papers.
  • Keep volumes, files or loose pages flat on your table or document cradle, do not hold in hands. Archival records must always be fully supported.
  • aintain the order or arrangement of documents in each folder. If documents appear to be out of sequence, please inform the staff. Do not attempt to rearrange them yourself.
  • Do not tap pages down on the table to realign them. Gently arrange them with your hands as well as you can.
  • Notify staff if any materials are damaged so that they can be referred to our conservation unit. Report any accident to a document immediately.
  • Do not make tracings on archival records.
  • Note that you can be prosecuted under article 17 (1) of the National Archives Law No. 48 of 1973 for destroying, defacing, marking on or mutilating, or causing damage to any record, manuscript or document deposited in the National Archives.
  • If you must consult with anyone in the Research Room including staff, please be as quiet as possible and refrain from disturbing others.
  • It is the duty of the staff to ensure compliance with the rules. Failure to observe them may result in the records you are using being removed or in your reader’s pass being cancelled.

  • Requests to publish manuscripts / documents under copyright, must be referred to the Director General, National Archives.
  • Material cited in publications must be acknowledged.
  • It is requested that a copy of any thesis, dissertation or publication is deposited in the library of the National Archives.
  • When information or text derived from the holdings of the National Archives is published or cited in publications, users are requested to use the following form of acknowledgement:

    Name of National Archives/ Record Group Number/ Item Number(s)
    e.g. SLNA 1/500.


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Archival Records are issued to the readers subject to the following rules

General Conditions:

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 January 2019 03:44  


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Last Update: 16-04-2024.