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Archives FAQ

Archives FAQ

Do I need to be a student at Cambridge University to use the archives?

NO - The archive is open to anyone wishing to carry out research. You will need to book a readers desk prior to visiting us.

Do I need to book in advance?

YES - The archive has an online booking form which shows when a desk is free up to four months in advance of a visit.

Due to space restrictions in the reading room we can only accommodate one person per desk.

Please contact the Archive staff to discuss access for additional people or group visits.

How do I fill in the online booking form?

The online booking form allows you to reserve more than one half day session without the need to complete multiple applications.

First check that a desk is free for all the dates and times you want to visit and then -

Select the first date and complete the form adding your additional dates and times to the "Any subsequent (single/half-) days?" field at the booking form.

Submit your booking. Staff will contact you to confirm the booking.

How far in advance can I reserve a desk?

We can accept a booking up to four months in advance of a visit.

The easiest way to book is by using the online booking form.

Alternately please contact the Archive Staff to discuss access.

We are unable to accept bookings beyond the four month period.

How many days can I book?

Due to demand, we limit the number of reservations to ten full days in any four week period.

If you think you may need longer please contact archive staff and ask to be placed on the waiting list for additional days, you will be allocated a place should a desk become free.

Do I need to bring identification with me when I visit?

YES - If you are a first time visitor or have not been for a while then please have some form of photographic identification with you e.g. drivers licence / passport / student card etc.

What are the opening times?

The archive is open Monday to Friday to those who have booked a desk:

  • Morning: 9.30am - 1pm
  • Afternoon: 2pm - 5pm

Please note that as the reading room is monitored by staff it will close for fifteen minutes during each period.

Do I need to order documents in advance?

NO - If you do have a list of specific documents you wish to consult please add these to the booking form as it will assist the staff and any issues with access can be addressed before your visit.

You can order additional documents at any time during a visit.

How can I access the archive catalogue?

You can search our catalogue on line via the Archives Portal Europe or the Archives Hub

Staff can advise on recent collections not yet available through these web sites.

Will I see original documents or copies?

In some cases documents are too fragile to produce and so copies will be provided for research.

In some instances the originals are held in other institutions and we only hold copies.

Copies may be photocopies / microfilm / microfiche / transcripts or a mix.

Can I bring a laptop / tablet with me?

YES. To avoid disturbing other researchers, electronic devices must be silent.

If you are coming from outside the UK you will need to bring an adaptor to use if you wish to use our power supply.

Can I get or make copies of documents?

Those undertaking private or non commercial research can obtain copies of certain documents subject to copyright, other legislation and depositor restrictions. For details of options and fees please contact the Archive staff.

Copies can usually be supplied electronically or a printouts depending on researcher requirements.

We do not allow researchers to make copies with their own equipment (eg cameras, phones etc)

Those carrying out commercial research (Book, TV, Radio etc) will need to discuss reproduction options directly with the Archive staff.

Please noteif you wish to obtain copies from our photographic collections you will need to contact our Picture Library Manager.

How do I access the Art collection?

The art catalogue can be viewed online.

If you wish to look at original art work then please book a desk in the reading room and make it clear on the form that it is art work you wish to look at.

How do I access the Photographic collection?

The photographic collection is administered by the Picture Library Manager.

Many images are available online.

All enquiries should be directed to the Picture Library Manager.

How do I access the Library collection?

The library is open Monday to Friday from 9am - 1pm and 2pm - 5.30pm

(Please note that last admission to the building is at 5pm).

You can bring library books into the archive reading room if you need to consult them while you are looking at the documents.

Special collection books can only be viewed at the designated desks or in the archive reading room.

Library staff will be happy to explain how the library catalogues work and answer other enquiries regarding published materials.

More information on library services is available.

How do I access the Museum collection?

The museum is open to the public from 10am to 4pm Tuesday to Saturday (except Bank Holiday weekends and public holidays).

Details of exhibitions and events are online.

Collections catalogues are online.

If you have a research enquiryor wish to access the reserve collections then please contact the museum staff.

Can I park at SPRI if I have an archive appointment?

Please note that the Institute has no provision for visitor parking. There are several car parks a relatively short distance from the institute, but do allow extra time for parking since the city is always busy. You may instead find the city's Park and Ride system easier. See our directions page for more information.

For visitors with disabilities we have a parking space in the Scott Polar Research Institute car park, via the entrance on Lensfield Road. This facility should be booked in advance, by contacting us prior to your visit.