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Services for our visitors

Rules for Readers

Before a member of the public obtains a Reader’s Ticket and consults records in the Reading Room, they must agree to abide by the Rules for Readers.


1. The Reading Room is open to readers holding a current Reader’s Ticket, issued by the National Archives. Readers are admitted to the Reading Room only for the purpose of reading archives, finding aids or reference works. When applying for a Reader’s Ticket photographic proof of identity – and of address – must be produced.


2. Readers must sign the Attendance Book in the Entrance Hall on the Ground Floor each day.


3. Readers must observe silence in the Reading Room except when consulting a member of staff.


4. Readers must not remove archives, films or fiche from the Reading Room and are responsible for the safety of the materials produced to them until they are returned to the Supervisor.


5. No personal belongings, except material for taking notes, personal computers and digital cameras, may be brought into the Reading Room. Coats, jackets, hats (last two unless being worn) bags, handbags, briefcases, umbrellas and other belongings must be left in the lockers in the Locker Room as must mobile telephones and pagers. The National Archives will not accept responsibility for readers’ property.


6. Nothing liable to cause damage to archives may be brought into, consumed, or used in the Reading Room or related areas. This includes food, drink, sweets (including cough-sweets and chewing-gum), newspapers, ball-point pens, felt-tip pens, fountain-pens, ink, fluorescent or other markers, erasers, correction fluids or adhesives of any kind, sharp instruments including pencil-sharpeners, or staplers, all of which must be left in the lockers in the Locker Room.


7. Archives are fragile and must be treated with respect:

  • Use book-cushions whenever possible;
  • Do not place clothing on the reading tables;
  • Do not lean on, or place anything on, documents;
  • Do not mark, crease or fold documents;
  • Do not lick or moisten fingers before turning pages;
  • Do not place records or boxes on the floor;
  • Do not disorder or rearrange loose documents;
  • Do not remove tags from files
  • Do not attempt to reorder documents;
  • Do not turn the pages of documents with a pencil in the hand;
  • Please bring to the attention of the Supervisor documents that are disordered, damaged, defective or misfiled;
  • Please bring any problem to the attention of the Supervisor.


8. Pencils only may be used for taking notes. Pencils and sharpeners are available at the Desk in the Reading Room. Pencils must not be sharpened at the reading tables and personal pencil-sharpeners are forbidden.


9. Finding aids and reference books should be replaced on their shelves when no longer required. Please use the cushions provided when in use.


10. Recording devices and other electronic equipment may not be used.


11. The use of copying and tracing devices, as well as personal radio and stereos, is prohibited.


12. The use of photographic equipment is permitted but permission is required from the Reading Room Supervisor and the Duty Archivist. The relevant Photography Permission forms must be obtained and signed.


13. Archives may contain personal information subject to data protection and a Reader’s Ticket is issued subject to the signing of a Data Protection undertaking.


14. Archives are copyright and must not be published or reproduced without the written consent of the Head of Reader Services.


15. Readers’ Tickets are issued subject to compliance with the Rules for Readers. Failure to observe the Rules for Readers may result in removal of archives from a reader and/or cancellation of the Reader’s Ticket. Theft or concealment of archives and wilful damage to archives are criminal offences under Section 18 of the National Archives Act, 1986.