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Archives In Brief 13 - Reading room rules and procedures

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Explains your responsibilities when using our facilities and in particular when you handle original (uncopied) State archives. Please remember our reading room staff are on hand to provide expert and professional advice to help you get the most out of your visit.

Before you begin

Readers tickets required before accessing original records

Before you can access original State archives you must have a reader's ticket. Reader's tickets are issued in our reading room. A reader's ticket is valid indefinitely and may be used to access records in the reading room and at our regional repositories.

Who can have a reader's ticket

Anyone over the age of 15 years may apply for a ticket. Applicants under 18 years must have the application countersigned by a parent or legal guardian.

How to apply for a reader's ticket

You can apply for a reader's ticket online or in the reading room. If applying online you can collect your readers ticket in the reading room during your next visit.

What you agree to when you apply for a ticket

Before being issued with a reader's ticket you are required to have read and agreed to the reading room rules and procedures described in this AIB. When using State records we also ask that you respect the privacy of, and not cause distress, to living persons.

Identification required for readers tickets

When applying for reader's tickets you must show documentation that confirms your:

  • name
  • signature, and
  • address.

How we use and protect your personal information

An application for a reader's ticket requires the collection of personal information. State Records collects this information to: help ensure the protection of State archives; track the issue of records to the reading room; help us understand the uses of State archives and to assist in planning and allocating resources. Personal information may also be used to notify researchers of any change to our services. State Records guarantees the information contained on the application form will only be used for the purposes listed above. Details of the documentation shown to confirm an individual's personal information are not recorded or kept.

Reading room rules

Our reading room rules and procedures are designed to help preserve and protect the States' archives. State Records is responsible for preserving and making records of continuing value accessible as State archives. One way that we can all help preserve these unique and irreplaceable records, now and for future generations, is through ensuring proper security, care and handling.

When using our reading facilities you agree to follow our reading room rules by:

  • Not bringing bags (including handbags) into the reading room (lockers are available - you will need a $2.00 coin)
  • Turning off your mobile phones
  • Keeping all noise to a minimum while working in the reading room
  • Not eating or drinking in the reading room (there are designated areas available outside)
  • Not entering the 'Staff Only' areas.

When using original records you agree to:

  • Follow the care and handling of archives guidelines listed below
  • Complete all requests for original records and/or copy orders 30 minutes before closing time
  • Do not remove records from the designated area
  • Do not transfer records to another researcher
  • Return records to the designated collection points after use.

Care and handling guidelines for archives

Handling original records

  • Handle all original items with care at all times
  • Turn folios carefully one at a time, ideally from the top right hand corner
  • Ensure that volumes are fully supported at all times. Reading room staff can supply equipment to support volumes
  • Do not place objects on the records.

Clean hands

  • If you are not wearing gloves, ensure that your hands are clean, dry and free from lotions that may stain and add to the deterioration of the records.

Wear gloves when requested by reading room staff

You may be requested to wear gloves when accessing:

  • all photographic material (including paper prints, negatives, glass negatives, aperture cards and cinematic or reel-to-reel film)
  • maps and plans that are not fragile
  • original material that is not fragile, and
  • items from our 'safe store' that are not fragile.

Keep records in original order

  • Do not disturb the order of papers within a bundle (if documents appear to be out of order, please notify reading room staff)
  • Do not remove documents from bundles.

When taking notes

  • Use pencils for writing or note taking, except when completing designated forms
  • Do not lean on archival records when writing
  • Do not mark any record (do not trace, highlight or underline archival material).

Marking places in the records

  • Do not use items such as 'post-it' notes, cardboard, pens, pencils or memo pads to mark places in archival records. Paper flags are available.

Damaged records

  • Report any damage such as loose or torn folios, so that they can be referred for preservation treatment.

Making digital copies of State archives

Consult staff before copying original records in the reading room with a digital camera or scanner. For more details see Archives in Brief 92.

Access to fragile or easily damaged material

If an original (uncopied) record is fragile or in an unstable condition you may be asked to view the item under the supervision of State Records' staff. You may also be requested to wash and dry your hands thoroughly prior to handling the record. When an item is severely degraded and at risk of further damage, staff may have to withhold access completely. In these cases, which occur only occasionally, we will explain the reasons why access cannot be granted.

Publishing and citing State archives

If you are considering publishing State archives, either entire documents or extracts, there are a number of important steps to take. Please see Archives in Brief 11 and Archives in Brief 10. You can also contact State Records at for more information.

© State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority, 2003.
This work may be freely reproduced and distributed for most purposes, however some restrictions apply. See our copyright notice or contact us.