Members of the public who wish to consult records that are publicly available – outlined in the Archives held section – may do so in the Reading Room of the National Archives which is open from Monday to Friday, 9.15 until 17.00, to members of the public in possession of a valid reader’s ticket. Documents may be ordered by readers from 9.15-12.15 and 13.30-16.00 daily.
Consult the finding aids
Before ordering records from the repository, readers can consult the finding aids in the Reading Room to the various record collections. Finding aids act as guides into record collections and provide information such as a description of the record and its creating body, the covering date of the record and most importantly, a reference number for the record. It is this unique number that identifies the record and facilitates its retrieval. Once the reader has identified the records of interest using the finding aids, they then proceed to order the items.
Readers complete an Order Docket for each item required, hand in the docket at the Reading Room desk for their order to be processed and wait for the records to be brought to their table. Only three dockets may be submitted at a time; one document/file item is produced to the reader at any one time and the remainder is held behind the Reading Room counter.
When finished with the records, the reader returns them to the Returns desk and waits while the return of each document is recorded.
Records required on subsequent days
There is a hold-out facility for documents which are required by a reader on subsequent days – the items in question must be accompanied by a completed form and will be returned to the repository after their hold-out date has expired.
Order copies of archives
Copies can be made of most loose documents and of some bound volumes. In some cases it is not possible to copy large or fragile documents and many maps and plans cannot be copied. Further details on ordering copies is provided in Obtain copies of archives.