What can I expect when I visit?

We’re doing all we can to help everyone feel safe when they’re on site, but we need your help too. We ask that all visitors behave responsibly and respect the measures that we have put in place:

  • Booking system to help us manage visitor numbers – all visits must be pre-booked without exception, and all documents ordered in advance
  • One-way systems and capacity controls in frequently used areas
  • Floor markers and temporary signage to help with social distancing
  • Rigorous cleaning during and at the end of each day
  • Easier access to sinks for hand washing and provision of hand sanitiser

This short video shows what you can expect when you visit.

We are asking everyone booking a visit to commit to a coronavirus visitor charter, aimed at encouraging all visitors to do their bit to help us ensure everyone’s safety.

We confirm we have complied with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19 and have obtained the We’re Good To Go mark.

Face coverings and gloves

Due to a change in the law, all visitors are required to wear face coverings during their visit. If you are travelling to us on public transport you must also wear a face covering.

If you have a legitimate reason not to wear a face covering, please indicate this on the form when you book your visit – this will help our staff prepare for your arrival and ensure that your visit is not delayed. If you need to lipread, please advise our staff and they will remove their face covering at a safe distance.

We do not allow gloves to be worn in our reading rooms, unless you are handling photographs, in line with long-standing guidance relating to the preservation of our collection. All visitors will be asked to wash their hands thoroughly before and after their visit to the reading rooms.

Looking after our documents

All documents must be ordered in advance, when you have booked a reading room visit. Documents will be delivered to your allocated document locker and will be quarantined for a period of time before returning them to our repository.

If another visitor has already seen a document that you have requested within a certain amount of time before your visit, we will be unable to provide you with access to the document – for this reason, we are suggesting that visitors suggest a number of alternative documents that can be supplied if available.

Taking a break

We are now offering a limited food and drink service in our restaurant between Tuesday and Friday, including hot drinks, sandwiches and cakes. Our shop is also open between 12:00 and 15:00, Tuesday to Friday. Please note that we are not accepting cash in either the shop or restaurant, only card and contactless payments.

Getting help with your research

We are now offering a reduced enquiry service for pre-booked visitors in the Start Here area of the first floor reading room between 10:30 and 14:30. Some of our computers will also be available to pre-booked visitors. Although our reference library remains closed, you can order supplementary research resources to use during your visit, such as finding aids, library materials and microfilm/fiche.