Anyone can visit the Archive.* It is free and there is usually no need to make an appointment. Before you visit us, you can check the online catalogue to identify records you wish to see.
Your visit starts by signing in
We ask users to complete a registration sheet at each visit, providing their name, full address and other contact details.** There is also a space for you to note your topic of interest.
Completing this form and signing the request slips to consult documents means you agree to abide by the search room rules and procedures and will follow the record handling guidelines.
The materials we hold in the Archive are unique and irreplaceable. You can help us care for the records by following the document handling guidelines and leaving coats and bags on the coat rack. Help us make sure that future generations can also enjoy and learn from the collections.
You can find what you want by using finding aids
- Before your visit, have a look at the online catalogue which provides descriptions of the collections. Or you can browse the collections summaries and the topics databases. All these resources can help you decide which records will be most useful to you.
- Or you can just come along to the search room where we have descriptive lists of the collections. The volumes are colour coded, to distinguish between Council and other Official records (black) and the community collections (blue).
- Each collection is headed by a summary of its contents, so that you can quickly see who created the material, what dates it covers and what kind of information it contains.
- You can then browse through the descriptive lists of one or more collections and note which original items you would like see.
- We also have indexes to some collections which may save you time looking through the complete descriptive lists. Just ask a member of staff whether the collections you are interested in are indexed.
I’ve seen what I want, what do I do now?
Each collection has a unique reference number, as does each volume, bundle or item within each collection. When you want to see anything you need to take a note of the complete reference number so the correct material can be produced.
- When you spot something of interest, make a note of the reference number. You need the number to complete the request slip which is used to produce the items you wish to see.
- You will probably need to complete one slip for each item – staff will advise you.
- Give your slips to a member of staff who will fetch the material you have asked for from the strong room.
- When you have the material you requested, please follow the document handling guidelines which will minimise wear and tear on the documents.
- There are paper and pencils available for you to take notes, gloves to protect photographs and cushions to support volumes.
- The staff are always happy to advise about the documents and help you interpret them.
Reference and resources
We also have tools that can help you make sense of the records you want to see or help you find collections that are held elsewhere.
- There are books and web sites that tell you about why certain records were created, help you decipher old handwriting and help you understand Latin and Old Scots.
- The search room PC can be used to access this information and to browse our online catalogue, catalogues of other archives and related web sites.
- If you are not sure where to start your search, the staff will be happy to guide and advise you.
At the end of your visit
When you have finished with the material, tell a member of staff who will return them to the strong room.
Access to the records
There are certain circumstances when access to the documents is restricted. Some records may be too fragile or are away being repaired. Records may also be closed to the public under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998, or at the request of the collection’s owner.
* Children under 12 need to be accompanied by an adult.
** In compliance with the Data Protection Act (1998), any personal information supplied by you may be kept in either a manual or automated file for administration, record or management information purposes. The information will be used for no other purpose. Only those with direct operational rights will have access to the information.
** You do not need to be a member of the Library, but we may ask for identification.