Accessibility statement

 Visiting Us - COVID-19

In response to COVID-19, we’ve made some changes to the way we operate. These changes are intended to help create a safe environment for both visitors and staff so that we can keep our doors open and all get back to the work we love.

The guidance below will help you prepare for your visit. We look forward to seeing you and thank you for your patience and cooperation as we continue to navigate these unprecedented circumstances.

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

  • Access to the archives (including our microfilm readers) is by appointment only. We recommend giving us as much notice as possible to ensure we can accommodate your visit.
  • Microfilms no longer need to be requested in advance of appointments, however original archives will still need to be pre-ordered. Please note that for some archival material, we require a minimum of 24 hours' notice before your appointment. 
  • Contact information must be provided at the point of booking.
  • For the safety of you and all visitors and staff, we strongly recommend that you please wear a face covering throughout your appointment.

Please do not book or attend an appointment if you have any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), if you are awaiting a test result, or if you have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

Opening times

For visitors to the Borthwick we are open Monday to Wednesday from 9.30am to 4.30pm. Please note that the searchroom and microform room are closed between 12.30pm and 1.30pm to allow us to clean tables and prepare work spaces for afternoon appointments. 

For the safety of our visitors and staff, we are limiting the number of appointments available. There are two bookable sessions each day. These are from 9.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 4.30pm. All-day appointments can be booked subject to availability.

Booking an appointment

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

Ordering documents

  • We ask that you continue to pre-order the original documents you'd like to consult when you make your booking.
  • 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 maps, plans and photographic material cannot be requested on the day.
  • Due to increased scientific research into COVID-19 transmission, and changes in government guidance, it is no longer necessary for us to quarantine documents and microfilms between users.
  • Microfilms are now available through self-service retrieval. 
  • Use our online catalogue 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.

What to do when you arrive

We're based in the University of York Library, on the Heslington West campus.  Unless you are exempt from doing so, we strongly recommend wearing a face covering when inside the Library.

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.

  • Please sanitise your hands using the stations provided.
  • At the Borthwick reception, please give your name so that we can confirm your attendance.
  • 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 will be required in order to take photographs. Staff can provide more information if this is of interest to you.
  • Please take the time to familiarise yourself with our Searchroom Regulations (PDF , 162kb).
  • Please place all other personal belongings in allocated lockers. 

In the searchroom

  • You will be allocated a table or microfilm reader as booked and asked to read our Visitor Guidance.
  • For the safety of you and all visitors and staff, we strongly recommend that you please wear a face covering throughout your appointment. You will need to provide your own face covering.
  • All the documents that you ordered will be available at your table for you to work through.
  • At the end of your visit, please leave all documents on your table.
  • Please be aware of other visitors and staff and maintain a safe distance at all times.
  • Hand sanitiser stations will be available for you to use during your visit.
  • Unfortunately, we won’t be able to provide pencils and note paper.
  • Please help us accommodate as many visitors as possible by vacating your table promptly at the end of your appointment.

What remote services are on offer?

We will be able to respond to enquiries via email, telephone, post and social media during this time. For more extensive enquiries, our searching service has now resumed. Our copying service continues to be available but please note that the copying of original probate files remains temporarily suspended.

Our online catalogue - Borthcat - is still available.

Email: borthwick-institute@york.ac.uk 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/uoyborthwick 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UoYBorthwick 

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, and our Cause PapersArchbishops' Registers, and Retreat hospital archive are available, for free, 24/7 online.

Safety measures

What are you doing to ensure the safety of visitors and staff?

We have installed new signs, perspex screens, and hand sanitiser stations. We ask you to practice good hand hygiene, maintain a safe distance from other people and take time to read our guidance. We will be cleaning our facilities between each session.

How many people will there be at each booked session?

At present we are still limiting the number of onsite visitors. Each morning and afternoon session will accommodate no more than five people at a time in the searchroom and three people at a time in the microform room.

Will I need to wear a face covering?

We strongly recommend that you wear a face covering when visiting the Borthwick Institute for Archives unless you are exempt from doing so.

Will everyone need to wear gloves?

No, you will only need to wear gloves if handling very delicate or photographic materials. We are providing sanitiser stations and cleaning facilities. We are following best practice guidance on limiting risks from the virus while also caring for the documents.

Will staff be enforcing safety measures?

We ask all visitors to follow our Visitor Guidance which explains the safety measures that are in place. We will allocate seating to provide everyone with sufficient space to work. Any concerns should be raised with a member of staff.

Booking and facilities

Can I visit without an appointment?

Unfortunately, no. Reopening the searchroom by appointment only not only allows us to maintain safe numbers of visitors, it also gives us the time needed to ensure that documents are assessed before use. 

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

We ask 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. To support visitors, we have now introduced two additional retrieval times (10.45am and 2.45pm) to enable you to request a further six documents per session should you require them. 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 continue 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.

Will lockers be available?

Lockers will be available and will be allocated on arrival. All lockers and keys will be thoroughly cleaned between each use.

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. However at present it is not be possible for us to sit near you to give specific help or guidance.

I want to use a microfilm reader, but am worried about sitting close to other people. Will there be enough space between researchers?

We are still limiting the number of onsite users at any one time, to ensure each visitor has enough space in which to work comfortably. We have removed access to some readers and computers to ensure this.

I usually borrow a pencil when I forget to bring one. Will I still be able to do this?

Unfortunately, we have removed all the pencils. You will need to bring everything you need with you. 

What types of payment can you accept?

We can take contactless or card payments. Unfortunately, we cannot 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.