Accessing and copying documents

Search Discovery, our catalogue, for the records we hold that can be viewed here. You may order up to twelve documents before you visit, to save time when you arrive, if you hold a valid reader’s ticket. To read original documents only, you will need to obtain a reader’s ticket by bringing two specific forms of identification with you when you visit.

Copies of many of our most popular documents can be accessed online or in the reading rooms on microfiche and microfilm. Although we do have staff available to give advice and support, you may want to bring someone with you if you feel you are unable to use a computer unaided.

We provide power sockets on most desks in the reading rooms, for you to charge your laptop or camera. You must ensure that your own equipment is safe to plug in. You should not use any other power sockets in the building.

You may find that you need to consult several different types of document during your visit, such as books, parchment and maps. Read our advice on how to handle documents, and see examples of best practice.

Ordering original documents

You can order original documents at any computer terminal in the reading rooms.

Current order status screens available in all public areas can be used to check the progress of your order.  Ninety-seven per cent of documents will be delivered in less than one hour. The current average delivery time is displayed as you order each document.

When your documents are ready, they are delivered to your allocated numbered locker near the document reading room, or the collection counter on the second floor for maps and larger documents. The locker number is the same as your seat number. When you have finished with your documents, please return them to the document returns counter nearest to you. See our short video guide to ordering documents for more information.

Copying documents

There is a range of printing and copying facilities available. Find out more about our fees.

We also encourage the use of cameras (with the flash turned off). Go to the information desk in our reading rooms to find out more about your options.