Visiting archives | A' tadhal air tasglann

Archives welcome visitors and researchers to make use of their collections. The following guidelines are aimed at helping to make the most of your visit and research time.

Before visiting

  • Most archives request that researchers contact them prior to their visit. Do phone ahead to check what information is available and to arrange an appointment.
  • Telephone, e-mail or write to the relevant archivist/curator with details of the research that you plan to undertake, with as much detail as possible of what archive material you hope to study. The more specific you can be about your research the more the archive will be able to help.
  • Mention any access support that will be required for your visit. e.g. wheel chair assistance.
  • Some archives may require proof of identity or even a letter of reference / introduction so do check in advance.

During your visit

All archives are different but there are some generals Do's and Don'ts when visiting and using archives.  These may seem draconian but they are intended to ensure the preservation and security of the archive collections so that they may be enjoyed in the future by others.  

A general set of rules are made available to researchers by the Tasglann is available to download in the right hand toolbar but please be aware that each archive will be slightly different.  The following are general rules to be followed.

  • You may be required to fill out a registration sheet and/or or to sign in and out of the main archive research area.  This is so archives can monitor who has used what records and who has visited and is standard practice.  Please do not be concerned! 
  • Pencils or laptop computers should be used for note taking to prevent ink damage to documents.
  • Equipment taken into archives research areas is usually restricted to paper, pencils, reference material, lap tops and other equipment necessary to the research being undertaken.  Handbags, coats, umbrellas and food should be left in cloakroom areas or lockers.
  • Archival material should be kept in the order in which it is found.
  • Many archive will only allow you three items at a time.  This is to stop items become muddled or confused and helps to prevent accidental damage that may occur when many items are crowding a small desk.
  • No food, drink, sweet or gum can be consumed near archival material.
  • Some objects, such as glass negatives, have to be handled with gloves.  These will be provided if required.
  • Contrary to stereotypes, archives are not dusty and dirty places! However, some objects and archive documents, like old leather-bound ledgers, can leave residue on your hands and clothing so it is a good idea not to wear your best clothes and to wash your hands regularly!
  • Copyright and photographic regulations must be followed.
  • Photocopying and photographic reproduction is often allowed but is at the discretion of staff, depending on the condition of the material to be copied. There may be a small charge for copying material.  Some archives will allow you to use a digital camera but always ask before using it and ensure the flash is turned off.

Making notes

It may sound silly, but it's always a good idea to:

  • Note the name of the archive you have visited and the date.
  • Note the catalogue reference number of the item(s) you have used.
  • Write a brief description of each item you have used to help you remember later what you were looking at.
  • When quoting directly, note page numbers or other markers in the item so you can find the information again if needed.
  • Take sufficient bibliographic information so that you can reference the item when writing up your research!
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