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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.

Once you have submitted your booking request you will receive an automatic notification either confirming your booking or placing you on the waiting list.

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

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 from 10am to 1pm.

Do I need to order documents in advance?

Yes - please add a list of items you wish to consult to the booking form.

All items you wish to consult need to be ordered no later than 24 hours prior to your visit (or by 1pm on the preceding Friday if your booking is for a Monday morning).

Please contact the Archive staff staff directly at to discuss your research, as additional items cannot be produced during your visit.

How do I access the archive catalogue ?

You can search the archive catalogue before you visit us.

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 others, 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?

Visitors may make copies of items in the archive collection (subject to copyright / other legislation / depositor agreement / conservation considerations) for private / non-commercial research subject to completion of a copyright form.

Items up to A3 can be copied with 5% of diaries / journals / accounts / unpublished narratives included in this. Camera / phones must be silent, no flash and SLRs, tripods and 'mini-pods' or other equipment are not permitted.

There is a £5.00 charge for a photography permit.

We can also supply copies of certain documents subject to copyright, other legislation and depositor restrictions for those unable to visit.

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

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 research desk in the reading room and make it clear on the booking 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.

The Institute's oral history recordings and film collection also falls under the remit of the Picture Library.

How do I access the Library collection?

The library is open Monday to Friday for pre booked appointments.

More information on library services and their booking options are available.

How do I access the Museum collection?

The museum is open to the public from Thursday to Saturday (except Bank Holiday weekends and public holidays). Please check details on opening before traveling to us Details of exhibitions and events are online. Collections catalogues are online.

If you have a research enquiry or 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.

Can I volunteer in the archive?

There are a range of volunteer roles at the Scott Polar Research Institute, particularly in our Museum, Archive, Picture Library and Library. For information see our volunteering and work experience page.