Accessibility statement

Visiting Us

Please visit the University's transport pages for information on getting here and information on parking, buses, cycle routes etc. 

Please refer to our accessibility information web page if you have any accessibility requirements.

Essential Information

If you’d like to visit us to use original archives or to access our microfilmed collections, we recommend booking an appointment to reserve a desk or microfilm reader. 

Please contact us to book an appointment, either via email or phone:

  • 01904 321166

We strongly recommend booking ahead of your visit, particularly if you are travelling to visit us, as we can get busy and might not have research spaces available. 

You will need to provide contact information at the point of booking to allow us to confirm an appointment, check any additional requirements applicable to the records, and for the security of our collections.

Opening times

Please find below our staffed opening hours for which a pre-booked appointment is required.

  • Monday 9.30am to 4.30pm (Searchroom and Microform Room)
  • Tuesday 9.30am to 4.30pm (Searchroom and Microform Room)
  • Wednesday 9.30am to 4.30pm (Searchroom and Microform Room) 

The Microform room is also open during the following hours, during which time you don’t  need to book an appointment. Instead the microfilm readers in this room are available on a first come, first served basis. Please see under ‘Access to the Microform Room Outside our Staffed Opening Hours’ section for more details.

  • Monday: 4.30pm to midnight
  • Tuesday: 4.30pm to midnight
  • Wednesday: 4.30pm to midnight
  • Thursday:  8am to midnight
  • Friday: 8am to midnight
  • Saturday: 8am to midnight
  • Sunday: 8am to midnight 

Ordering documents

  • We recommend pre-ordering the items you’d like to see. This allows colleagues to check the records for any conservation or data protection concerns, and means we can make your material ready to consult as soon as you arrive.
  • Use our online catalogue, Borthcat, to search our holdings. If you can’t find what you need or have any questions, please get in touch and we will be happy to help.
  • A limited number of additional original documents can be ordered during your visit, at set retrieval times (10.45am and 2.45pm). 
  • Please note that photographic material cannot be produced into the reading room on the same day.
  • The production of maps, plans, and other oversized material is dependent on the space available in the reading room and cannot always be accommodated without an advance booking.

What to do when you arrive

We're based in the University of York Library, on the Heslington West campus.

Please tell staff at the Library entrance that you have an appointment at the Borthwick. Staff will also be available to direct you to the Borthwick reception and searchroom.

  • At the Borthwick reception, please give your name so that we can confirm your attendance.
  • Please take the time to familiarise yourself with our Searchroom Regulations 2023 (PDF , 75kb)Searchroom Regulations 2023 (PDF , 75kb).
  • You are welcome to take a pencil, loose notepaper, a laptop, phone and/or camera into the searchroom with you. Please note that a photography permit, costing £10 per day or £25 per week, will be required in order to take photographs. If you are a member of the University of York, there is no charge for self-service photography but you will still need to complete a permit form.
  • Lockers are provided in the searchroom reception for all other personal belongings.  

In the searchroom

  • The documents that you requested will be available at your table for you to work through.
  • Staff will be available to offer any handling advice where needed. If you have requested any photographs as part of your order, you will need to wear the provided gloves before you handle them.
  • At the end of your visit, please leave all documents on your table.

Access to the Microform Room Outside our Staffed Opening Hours

Microform records can be consulted outside of our staffed hours (see under ‘Opening Times’ for more details). The microform room can be accessed via the first floor landing in the Raymond Burton Library.

Bookings cannot be taken for access to the microform room during these hours. The digital microform readers, from which digital copies of the records can be taken by bringing along a USB/memory stick, are therefore available only on a first come, first served basis. We also have traditional, hand-operated microfilm readers available.

Please be aware that no staff support will be available during these hours. In the microform room, there are printed instructions available on how to use the digital microform readers, as well as finding aids for our principal microform collections. You can also find digitised copies of these finding aids on our website.

What remote services are on offer?

We are able to respond to enquiries via email, telephone, post and social media. For more extensive enquiries, our searching service is available, and our copying service is also available if you would like copies of our records. For more information on our holdings, please see our online catalogue, Borthcat

How can I get access to your resources remotely?

Many of our Parish Registers, Bishops’ Transcripts and Marriage Bonds and Allegations are available via Find My Past, our Parish Registers are available through Ancestry and our Cause PapersArchbishops' Registers, and Retreat hospital archive are available, for free, 24/7 online.

Booking and facilities

Can I visit without an appointment?

We continue to strongly recommend that you book an appointment in advance of visiting us, so you can make sure a desk and the documents you need are available on the day you'd like to visit. We periodically review our opening policies, and any changes will be communicated via the news pages of our website and social media feeds.

You can access our microform records without a booking outside of our staffed hours. For further information please see the section ‘Access to the Microform Room Outside our Staffed Opening Hours’.

I’m not sure which documents I will need. Can I make my requests on the day of my appointment?

We recommend that researchers consulting original documents continue to pre-order their documents in advance of their visit. Retrieval in advance allows us to assess and prepare your documents and guarantee their availability. It also ensures that you can make the most of your time with us. We may however be able to retrieve additional records for you during your appointment depending on the access conditions of the records and staff availability.

Our staff are available to help you select documents before your visit. Please contact us via email or phone.

Microfilm records are available to browse and select on a self-service basis.

How far in advance do I need to book my appointment?

You will need to book your appointment with us in advance of visiting, and we recommend giving us as much notice as possible. This allows us to assess availability in our reading room and to prepare your documents. For some archival material, we require a minimum of 24 hours' notice before your appointment.

How do I search your catalogue in order to identify which documents I’d like to see?

Information on how to search our online catalogue and learn more about our holdings is available. If you need any help or have any questions, please do get in touch via email or phone.

Where can I store my things?

Free to use lockers are available in our reception room for bags, coats, and other personal items.

What facilities will be available?

Toilets will be available. The library cafe serves sandwiches and hot and cold snacks and has a range of indoor and outdoor seating. No food or drink can be consumed in the Borthwick itself. 

Will I be able to get copies of documents?

We advise you to bring a camera and purchase a photographic licence if you would like to take copies. We can take orders for digitised copies (where the document is suitable for this) but will not be able to provide copies during your visit. Any copies ordered will be sent on either to your email address, or by post with the addition of a postage fee.

Can I browse your finding aids and reference library? 

You are welcome to browse and access the paper finding aids and publications in our searchroom reception. We’re also working to make more of our finding aids available through our online catalogue.

Can I get help from staff with my research?

Yes! We aim to be as helpful as possible. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you require any guidance during your visit.

What types of payment can you accept?

We can take contactless or card payments, apart from AMEX. Please note that, like all campus outlets, we no longer accept cash.

What resources can I access online to help me prepare for my visit or reduce the need to visit?

You’ll find a number of research guides on our website that are designed to help visitors discover and interpret the archives in our care.

A number of our archives also have dedicated search tools or are available to browse online.