I. About the Archives
- IMF Policy on Access to the Archives
The public has access to a substantial range of information as part of IMF's efforts to promote openness and transparency. IMF’s Open Archives Policy (Decision No. 14498 – (09/126), adopted 12/17/09 and effective 03/17/10, as amended) gives to the public access to documentary materials maintained in the IMF's archives including:
- Executive Board documents, which are available to the public under 3- and 5-year rules except for items exempted from public disclosure
- Institutional archives, which are available after 20 years
IMF Records exempt from public disclosure are:
- Legal documents protected by attorney-client privilege;
- Confidential documentary materials provided to the IMF by external parties, including member countries, their agencies and central banks, unless such parties consent to their declassification;
- Personnel files, medical and other records pertaining to individuals; and,
- Documents and proceedings of the IMF Grievance Committee.
Since 1996, the time rules for access were modified to respond to the users' community but the initial records types excluded from access by external researchers remain unchanged.
The researcher's use and publication of Fund archival material is governed by the IMF Copyright and Usage Terms. As a general matter, only personal, noncommercial usage is permitted. For additional permissions to use Fund archival records, please follow the instructions in the IMF Copyright and Usage Terms and submit a request. Materials also are available for purchase on the IMF Bookstore Website.
- Disclaimer for Access to Departmental Records
Under the Policy on Access to the IMF's Archives only departmental archival materials that are 20 years and older may be open to the public after they have been reviewed.
II. What is in the Archives and how it is Organized
- Organization and Description of the Archives Holdings
The IMF Archives holdings are composed of Collections and Fonds. Essentially, collections are an artificial accumulation of documents of any provenance brought together on the basis of some common characteristic while fonds are all documents created, accumulated and used by one individual or organization in the course of their activities or functions.
The holdings consist of two components: (1) the Executive Board Documents and (2) the Institutional Archives which are departmental archives and other fonds and collections. These holdings contain records in various formats, including, manuscripts, digital records, photographs, audio recordings and multimedia. Please visit the IMF Archives catalogue.
III. How to Prepare for an Onsite Visit to the Archives
- Visiting the Archives
Records eligible for declassification will be reviewed in accordance with the IMF Policy on access to information before they are ready for research use. This process usually takes from 20 to 24 weeks to complete depending on the volume of records requested. The process may take longer if the Archives needs to consult a related business unit. For third party material requests, researchers need to obtain approval from the third party before the IMF releases requested records.
Researchers can only make an appointment to view requested records after they have been notified of the results of the review process.
The Archival holdings of the IMF are accessed at IMF Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The unique and irreplaceable nature of archives makes it impossible to provide access to the original material anywhere other than in the Archives reading room. Researchers who are unable to come to Washington, D.C. can employ research agents to consult the records on their behalf.
An archivist will retrieve the materials from the off-site repository and deliver the items to the researcher in the reading room. An archivist will explain the Archives reading room rules and how to use the records.
The Archives also maintains a collection of reference works for use in the reading room, including histories of the IMF.
External researchers can contact the reference staff through the following means only:
International Monetary Fund
Archives and Records Management
700 19th St., NW,
Washington, D.C. 20431
- Upon arrival a reference archivist will discuss the archives procedures, explain the reading room regulations, and answer any questions
- All researchers are expected to comply with copyright law and must sign an agreement to this effect upon arrival
- Frequently Asked Questions for Visitors
- Who can use the IMF archives?
- Do I need an appointment to come to the IMF Archives?
- What form of photo identification is needed?
- Where are you located?
- Is the Archives reading room accessible by disabled persons?
- What are the reading room hours?
- How are the time rules for access to IMF records administered?
- What is the photocopying policy?
- May I use a digital camera in the reading room?
- May I use a laptop computer in the reading room?
- May I send an independent researcher on my behalf?
- Do you conduct archives research for people who cannot visit in person?
- How do I cite records found in the IMF Archives?
1. Who can use the IMF archives?
Members of the general public can conduct onsite research in the IMF Archives.
2. Do I need an appointment to come to the IMF Archives?
Yes. Please see Visiting the Archives section.
3. What form of photo identification is needed?
Visitors must present a current government-issued photo ID such as a passport or driver's license.
4. Where are you located?
The IMF Archives is located in the IMF Headquarters 1 Building (HQ1) in Washington, D.C. For information about visitor access to the IMF, directions, business hours and holiday schedules please see Visiting the IMF.
5. Is the Archives reading room accessible by disabled persons?
Yes — the reading room is accessible by elevator.
6. What are the reading room hours?
By appointment only.
7. How are the time rules for access to IMF records administered?
See the IMF's Open Archives Policy (Decision No. 14498 – (09/126), adopted 12/17/09 effective 03/17/10. A reasonable cost recovery scheme may be maintained for administering ad hoc requests for Board approval of exceptions to the terms specified under this Decision. No charge shall be assessed for requests received from government officials of member countries.
8. What is the photocopying policy?
Photocopies are no longer provided.
9. May I use a digital camera in the reading room?
The Archives recommends the use of a digital camera to make copies of documents but note that flash photography is not permitted. A camera stand is provided to researchers for this purpose.
Scanning of records is not allowed: we encourage visitors to bring their own flash drive or CD in order to copy the digitized documents.
Staff reserves the right to deny requests to copy fragile original materials for conservation reasons.
10. May I use a laptop computer in the reading room?
Yes. There is a WIFI connection in the Reading Room.
11. May I send an independent researcher on my behalf?
Yes. With advance notice we allow professional researchers to conduct research on behalf of someone who is unable to come onsite.
12. Do you conduct archives research for people who cannot visit in person?
We can provide brief responses to factual requests but, for more substantive or analytical work, researchers are expected to come in person. General inquiries regarding IMF policies, relations with member countries, or requests for statistical data should be directed to the IMF Public Affairs Division at email@example.com while inquiries regarding IMF publications available for purchase should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
13. How do I cite records found in the IMF Archives?
Any researcher using archival material from the IMF Archives, regardless of the citation style they prefer to use (such as APA, ASA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA etc.), should note that citation of archival material typically has two basic parts: the location reference and the document description, each of which may have several components. In any cases, the following elements should be included: (1) Location reference: Name of the repository, Title of the fonds or collection, and Reference Code (if any); and (2) Document description: Title of Series, Sub-series, Folder title, and date range. For more information, please visit the IMF Bookstore Website.