Why do I have to book my visit?

We are now offering a limited research service to visitors who need access to our collection of original documents for their research, and visits must be booked in advance. We are now able to provide access to our first floor document reading room and second floor map and large document reading room – you must specify which reading room you wish to use when you book.

A small number of consecutive two-day appointments in both reading rooms are now available for visitors wishing to research bulk document orders (between 20 and 40 documents from the same record series). Appointments are available for Tuesday/Wednesday and Thursday/Friday only.

Visits must be booked at least a week in advance, and will be made available two weeks before the date of the visit, on a rolling weekly basis every Monday morning at 10:00. Each booking is for one person only on a first come, first served basis – you will not be able to bring anyone with you, unless they book a visit themselves. Please be considerate of others when you book – we may cancel your booking if you exceed our reasonable limit of one booking per week, unless you have booked a two-day bulk order visit.

We will not permit anyone to enter the building who has not pre-booked a visit, so please do not travel if you have not been able to book as we will not be able to let you in.

We are able to offer a small number of camera stands for use in the reading rooms – these must also be booked in advance.

We ask everyone booking a visit to agree to a new coronavirus visitor charter, aimed at encouraging all visitors to do their bit to help us ensure everyone’s safety. Due to a change in the law, all visitors are now required to wear face coverings during their visit.

Please note that we are currently unable to provide many of our usual reading room services, including access to microfilm and microfiche, research advice, copying and access to our computers.

Book a visit

You can book your visit through our special Eventbrite page – bookings are released every Monday morning at 10:00 for dates in two weeks’ time.

Top tips for booking a visit  

Since we reopened our doors to visitors in July, we’ve been delighted to have welcomed hundreds of visitors back into our reading rooms. We’ve now opened up our map and large document reading room, increasing our capacity so that we can help even more of you access our collection.  

Keeping everyone safe in our building remains our top priority, which means that our numbers must remain limited for now. These limits are temporary though, and as soon as we can open up more of our services and spaces, we will. We do recognise that it’s been frustrating for those of you who haven’t been able to book a visit, so we’ve come up with some helpful tips below that might help improve your chances of securing a booking and help you prepare for your visit. 

In the meantime please do keep providing us with your feedback – we’re taking all of it into consideration as we make our plans to increase and expand our services over the coming months. 

  • Visit our new Eventbrite page to see all available dates – new dates are added on a weekly basis, with bookings going live at 10:00 on Monday mornings, two weeks in advance. 
  • We occasionally release dates at other times if visitors have cancelled in advance, so it’s worth bookmarking and checking the Eventbrite page fairly regularly to see if anything becomes available. 
  • Tuesdays and Fridays tend to be our most popular days and book up quickly (especially Tuesdays) – you might have more luck with Wednesdays and Thursdays
  • You’ll have 20 minutes to complete your booking, so have your reader’s ticket and document references ready, and be prepared to include some back-up requests in case your first choices aren’t available. You can now order up to nine documents (plus three back-ups), or between 20 and 40 from the same series for bulk order bookings 
  • You can change the documents that you’ve ordered after booking your seat, but you’ll need to be quick – you can make changes to your order until 10:00 on Wednesday morning in the week that you book (which means if you’ve managed to grab a cancellation later in the week, you won’t be able to make any changes) 
  • Keep a close eye on your inbox (including your spam/junk folder, in case our emails go in there) – we might be in touch with more details about your order, especially if your documents are unavailable 
  • Remember to bring your reader’s ticket on the day of your visit, and check our updated guidance on what you can bring into the reading rooms – we’re now allowing visitors to make notes in the reading room (we’ll supply papebut you’ll need to bring your own pencils), and you can also bring electronic devices. And don’t forget your face covering!