Approved places of deposit

For the latest advice and support regarding Places of Deposit, please visit our coronavirus update webpage.

What are Places of Deposit?

Places of Deposit for public records are appointed to hold specific record classes in agreement with their parent authority under Section 4 (1) of the Public Records Act (1958).

The most typical reasons for such an appointment are that:

  • the records are of strong local interest and are best made available through a local archive service
  • or the creating institution is the most appropriate location for ongoing use and access to the records and so they are retained there.

Places of deposit fall into three main categories:

  • local record offices (usually borough or county archive services)
  • government (e.g. research establishments or national museums)
  • specialist (e.g. university or military archives)

In a small number of cases, specialist records (in subject matter or in format) are held within appropriate Places of Deposit.

The National Archives appoints Places of Deposit after inspection to ensure suitable arrangements are in place for the preservation of the records and access to them. We use the Archive Service Accreditation programme to ensure that Places of Deposit are maintaining standards.

Find out more about archive services that have been appointed as a Place of Deposit.

Support for Places of Deposit

The National Archives provides archive services with support, advice and guidance on aspects of the Public Records Act relating to Places of Deposit in England and Wales. The National Archives also provides wider support to Places of Deposit as part of its archives sector leadership role in England. Places of Deposit can get in touch with us at asd@nationalarchives.gov.uk.

Presentations or gifts

Sometimes repositories receive a record as a presentation or gift. This is when a public record not selected for permanent preservation is passed to repositories under Section 3 (6) of the Act and the record loses its public record status. Any suitable repository can therefore receive a presentation, and not just a Place of Deposit. Records deposited as presentations or gifts are described in our online catalogue Discovery rather than in the Place of Deposit schedule.

Responsibilities of Places of Deposit

We can appoint a repository as a Place of Deposit under the Public Records Act to hold certain classes of public record that are not held at The National Archives. A number of general and specific responsibilities included in the Act apply to Places of Deposit as a result of appointment.

Suitable facilities

Places of deposit are required to provide suitable facilities for preservation and access.

Preservation

A Place of Deposit needs to meet basic standards of preservation, access and professional care for the type of public record held, the size of the collection and its use.

Storage space should be secure and address risks posed by fire, flood and environmental conditions, and ideally meet the essential elements of the following standards:

  • BS EN 16893:2018 – Conservation of Cultural Heritage – specifications for location, construction and modification of buildings or rooms intended for the storage or use of heritage collections
  • and BS 4971:2017 – Conservation and care of archive and library collections.

Access

Secure inspection facilities should be provided with a reasonable level of free public access that meets user demand. Information on records held should be publicly available. There should also be means of copying records.

A Place of Deposit is free to exploit the public records in its custody in the same way as it would the rest of its holdings. However, this is subject to any constraints imposed by information, intellectual property or other legislation, and to the requirement to provide reasonable free public access.

Management of public records

Records should be in the care of suitably qualified staff.

Appointment as a Place of Deposit is for specific categories or formats of public record and a Place of Deposit is expected to accept accruals of the categories of record for which it is appointed.

A Place of Deposit is not required to accept deposits of records for which it is not appointed. However, if the Place of Deposit wishes to expand its public record collections, it can seek appointment for additional categories of record by applying to The National Archives. Places of Deposit that are offered public records for which they are not appointed should contact Archive Sector Development at asd@nationalarchives.gov.uk.

Places of Deposit are expected to establish and maintain a good working relationship with depositing bodies to ensure deposits are made in a timely and appropriate fashion, and that arrangements for deposit are agreed in accordance with the guidance for depositors. Deposits should be reported to The National Archives as part of the annual accessions survey.

Returning records

Places of Deposit are required to temporarily return records to the depositing body if requested to do so and when there is a justifiable business need. Only the originating organisation (or its successor) can request records and the depositor should provide a single, named point of contact. Records should be returned to the Place of Deposit within six weeks.

Loans

Places of Deposit can loan temporarily records to other organisations for the purposes of exhibition, digitisation and conservation, provided that the necessary safeguards are in place. Some loans for exhibition may need Secretary of State approval if they are of national significance. Places of Deposit can get in touch with us at asd@nationalarchives.gov.uk about the procedure for loans.

Transfers

The transfer of records between Places of Deposit (or between a Place of Deposit and The National Archives) is permitted but requires approval from The National Archives on behalf of the Secretary of State. Places of Deposit should contact us at asd@nationalarchives.gov.uk with enquiries about the transfer of records.

Destruction

The destruction of public records that have been selected for permanent preservation and are held at a Place of Deposit under Section 4 (1) of the Public Records Act requires the approval of the Secretary of State and the Chief Executive and Keeper of The National Archives. Places of Deposit with enquiries about the disposal or de-accessioning of public records should contact us at asd@nationalarchives.gov.uk.

Significant change

Places of Deposit should report major incidents and proposals affecting archive facilities, access arrangements and the management of collections to us at asd@nationalarchives.gov.uk.