Arrange a visit

Arranging your visit

  • The reading room will be open Monday to Friday, 11am – 1pm and 2pm – 4pm.
  • We only allow 1 visitor in the reading room per day
  • All visits must be booked in advance, giving at least one weeks’ notice. Users are advised not to travel unless they have received confirmation of the visit from us.
  • Please tell us if you have to cancel your visit. We will ask for a phone number to contact you in case the Archive is forced to cancel at short notice.
  • Here are the directions to the Archive.
  • The Archive occupies an historic building dating from 1688 and access for people with mobility problems is limited. More information.

Coronavirus restrictions

  • Facemasks are not mandatory, but please feel free to wear one if you wish to.
  • Hand sanitizer can damage archival documents; we would prefer if you wash your hands thoroughly on arrival at the Archive.
  • If you feel unwell, please contact us to postpone your visit.

Pre-order catalogued material

  • Visitors making appointments will be asked to search our online Archive catalogue and request Archive items by email or post at least one week in advance.
  • General restrictions on access to the Archive’s collections, such as any statutory or time-limited closure of the records, will be explained in the catalogue and by email or post at the time of booking a visit.
  • Material will be made available in accordance with preservation policies and procedures.
  • If you wish to consult additional archive material during your visit, the Archivist will decide whether it is possible but you may have to book another visit.
  • Library books and journals are available on the day without pre-booking. However, it will save you time if you can tell us in advance which books you may need to consult. Check our Library catalogue.

Uncatalogued material

  • Normally, uncatalogued material may not be viewed. At the Archive’s discretion, users may consult uncatalogued material pertinent to their enquiries or projects, provided that specific items can be identified and produced for inspection in a protected format.

On arrival

  • All visitors must sign the visitor’s book on every visit.
  • First time visitors will be asked to provide photo ID and sign a Visitor Registration Agreement. Personal information will be recorded on the Archive’s contacts database.
  • The visitor will be shown the extent of the material available and asked to decide upon the order in which they wish to look at it. Archive boxes, files and albums will be issued one or two at a time to prevent mixing of the contents.

Using Archive material

  • No food, including sweets and gum, or drink are to be consumed in the Reading Room.
  • Please turn your mobile to silent and make calls outside the Reading Room.
  • All material is for Reference Only and must not be removed from the Reading Room.
  • You may not be able to examine fragile or loose items if we are unable to protect them and we may ask you to use surrogates (e.g. digital images, transcriptions) rather than originals
  • Notes may only be made using the pencils and yellow paper provided, to easily distinguish between the visitor’s notes and original Archive material. Users must not write on or trace directly from any records, and must ensure that their hands are clean.
  • Specific handling requirements and equipment for particularly vulnerable original documents and rare books will be explained at the time by the duty supervisor.

Using the Archive’s catalogues and databases, laptops, cameras and portable scanners

  • A laptop with access to the Archive catalogue can be made available. The supervisor can also search for material or information on their own laptop.
  • Laptops may be used for note-taking. WiFi is available.
  • Visitors to the Archive are permitted to photograph items. We charge non-Friends £30 for a licence to take an unlimited number of photographs on one day; Friends may take unlimited photographs free of charge. Flash photography is not permitted. We may ask to be given copies of the resulting images.
  • Portable scanners are not permitted.
  • Archive material can only be reproduced in any form with permission.

Identification and request of additional material on the day

  • Visitors are encouraged to make another visit to examine additional material. If possible, material may be retrieved from the store at the duty supervisor’s discretion.

Refreshment and lunch breaks

  • The reading room is closed between 1 and 2pm. There is no provision for food and drink on the premises. There are places nearby where food can be bought, including a pub and a garage on Watlington Street and others in Reading town centre which is within walking distance.

Closing time

  • The reading room closes at 4pm.