Request Access to Holdings

Archives Services

Archives staff assist researchers in identifying relevant records in the Archives collections, but do not undertake research on the clients' behalf including creating, developing, or collating information or data that does not already exist. Archives staff facilitate access to the records in its custody by: providing guidance on how to identify Archives holdings related to a research topic; reviewing the records for any information that may fall under exceptions outlined in the World Bank Policy on Access on Information; consulting records-creating business units when necessary.

How to Submit a Request

Requests for information that is not available through the World Bank’s website may be submitted through the Access to Information Request Form where they are logged, assigned a case number and tracked. Inquiries will be acknowledged within 24 hours. Archives staff will provide a more comprehensive response within 20 business days. Additional time may be needed in special circumstances.

How to Identify Related Archives Holdings

Refer to How to Use Our Site for guidance on navigating the Archives Holdings website and identifying records responsive to your research. If needed, an archivist will provide the requester with detailed instructions on how to use the Archives finding aids, and how to search for information that is available via the World Bank’s website. An archivist will also undertake a preliminary search of the Archives holdings to identify relevant records and will provide the results via the case management system on the Access to Information website. The Archives does not undertake detailed research on behalf of clients (e.g. looking for particular information or records, verifying facts or collating information) beyond that identified in the preliminary search.

An archivist will review the records to identify their eligibility for disclosure under the provisions of the World Bank Policy on Access to Information. If the records are eligible for disclosure, they will be screened for any restricted information. If requested records are restricted from public access, an archivist will provide a reason for the restriction and the date the decision was made.

Items that have been screened and declassified will be made available in the Archives reading room during regular business hours and under supervision. In some cases, digitized copies of the records may be available online. A record will be maintained of all items requested and/or made available.

Accessing Archives Records on the Internet

Our digitization project provides access to a small but ever-growing amount of archival material online. Refer to our How to Use Our Site page for guidance on how to locate digitized records on our Archives Holdings website and the Projects & Operations Portal. Please review our [/digitized-records-terms-of-use](Digitized Records Terms of Use) for guidance on use and attribution of digitized records.

In addition, certain types of records that the Bank routinely declassifies, such as Staff Appraisal Reports, Project Completion Reports, Country Assistance Strategy, etc., are available in the Documents and Reports database. Transcripts and summaries of many World Bank historical interviews are also available on the Archives website through our Oral History program.

Service Standards

Records eligible for declassification will be screened in accordance with the World Bank Policy on Access to Information before they are ready for research use. This process usually takes from 8 to 16 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 or obtain approval from a third party.

Researchers are advised to contact the Archives in advance of a proposed research visit to ensure that the records will be available for them when they arrive.

Visiting the Archives

The holdings of the World Bank Group Archives are accessed in the Archives reading room under close supervision by Archives staff. 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 World Bank, World Bank publications, and works that are based on research at the World Bank Group Archives. The Archives can also scan a single item or up to 50 pages of records, whichever is less, and provide an electronic version.


Researchers are encouraged to bring a digital camera to take images of records in lieu of copying.

Most of the material in the Archives is copyrighted, and in many cases the Bank is not the copyright owner. Consequently the Bank must be satisfied that all copies created comply with the copyright convention of 'fair use' for research purposes. Images of the records can be taken provided the researcher consents in writing that no record or substantial portion of a record will be published or reproduced without the permission of the copyright owners.

Cost to Access the Archives

Review of records and use of finding aids in the Archives reading room will be provided free of charge. This is the accepted practice of national archives and research collections throughout the world. Bibliographic information and finding aids are available on the Internet without payment for access.