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Shropshire Archives reopens in a phased way from Wednesday 29 July

Visiting us – FAQs

Frequently asked questions about our re-opening

We’re very pleased to announce that we will be able to welcome visitors back into our reading rooms from Wednesday 29th July.

We will be offering a limited service to visitors who need access to original documents and books for their research. You will need to book your visit and order all documents/books in advance.

Regular visitors will notice that the service will look a bit different, as we’ve been busy introducing a number of measures to ensure the safety of our visitors and staff.     We will initially be able to provide access to the search room only, with the reading room (including access to PCs and microfilm and microfiche) closed.

Our Q&A below provides more detailed information about our opening arrangements. If your query isn’t covered, then please email us at [email protected]

When are you re-opening?

From 29 July 2020, Shropshire Archives will be open:

  • Wednesday 10am-2pm
  • Friday 10am-2pm

From 16 August 2020, opening hours will increase to:

  • Wednesday 10am-2pm
  • Thursday 10am-2pm
  • Friday 10am-2pm

We will review this at the end of August. We hope to open up more in September but this will depend on the current situation.

 We will not permit anyone to enter the building who has not pre-booked a slot, so please do not travel if you have not been able to book as we will not be able to let you in.

What safety measures are in place?

We’re doing all we can to help everyone feel safe when they’re on site, but we need your help too. We ask that all visitors behave responsibly and respect the measures that we have put in place. Safety measures include:

  • Limits on numbers and booking in advance
  • Floor markers and temporary signage to help with social distancing (two metres)
  • Rigorous cleaning at the start and the end of each session
  • Provision of hand sanitiser and easier access to the toilets for hand-washing (hand-washing recommended if you are handling documents)
  • Screens around the enquiries desk
  • Spaced out desks in the search room
  • Limited access to the coffee room for use of lockers only (not refreshments)
  • Quarantine of documents and books
  • Compliance with NHS test and trace

We will also ask all visitors to help us in maintaining good standards to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

We will review these arrangements regularly to ensure that they continue to meet government guidance.

Why do I have to book in advance?

We are initially only able to re-open our search room for a very limited number of researchers. This is to allow for social distancing.

We have always recommended booking in advance but this will now be mandatory. 

 Visits must be booked a week in advance, and we will release booking slots every three weeks.  Each booking is for one person only on a first come, first served basis – you will not be able to bring anyone with you unless they book a visit themselves.

Please be considerate of others when you book – we may cancel your booking if you try to book too many visits.

Booking in advance will also help ensure that we have sufficient time to quarantine documents before and after they have been handled by others. You will be able to order up to six documents when you book your visit.

Please do let us know in advance if you have any queries about your booking. In some instances, for example if all the items are in the same box, it may be possible for you to view more.  However, this will be on a case by case basis.   You can do this in the notes field on  your booking for or by emailing [email protected]

We will try and let you know in advance whether any of the documents that you have ordered are likely to be unavailable for – for example if they are being quarantined.

There may be items we can’t safely issue, such as large maps which require 2 people to unroll them, so these may not be available. Again we will try and advise if this is the case when you book.

Why are you only opening the search room?

Our survey indicated that most of you want to return to consult original documents.

Other areas, such as the self-service cabinets and shelves in the reading room as well as PC access, provide more challenges for keeping people safe. They will, therefore, remain closed in the first instance.

If you want to use sources from the open shelves, please book these in advance. Many sources including the Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society and OS maps are now available online.

Are you quarantining documents after they’ve been handled?

Yes. All documents will have to be ordered in advance.  When you have finished looking at your documents, we will quarantine them for at least 72 hours before returning them to their shelves.

If you consult electoral registers or bound catalogues, you will need to put these in a quarantine box.

Will I be able to use the lockers?

Lockers will be available and we will ask you to use these for all bags and coats.  You will be given a locker number when you arrive so that you can be sure no-one else has used the locker that day.

 These lockers will be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day.

The locker room is quite small so we advise that no more than 2 people enter this at any one time.

We won’t be able to accommodate large bags.

Will I be able to use the toilets and washrooms when I visit?

Yes –our accessible public toilets will be open. These will be cleaned at the start and end of each sesssion.

We recommend handwashing both to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to handle documents safely.

Will I be able to get a reader’s ticket?

We won’t be printing out new tickets but please bring ID showing your name and address so that we can verify your registration on the day.

Will I be able to get a cup of tea/coffee or lunch?

Our coffee room is very small so this will not be available for breaks/drinks/food.   Food and drink is not allowed in the search room. There are a few benches outside of the building which you can use if you bring your own refreshments but please respect social distancing and wash your hands when you re-enter the building.

Will I be able to get help with my research?

We will try and help as much as possible before you arrive either by email or phone.  This will minimise face to face contact.

Will I be able to use the computers?

No, our computers will not be available when we re-open due to the challenges of keeping them clean and safe for everyone. You will however be able to use your own device to connect to our free wifi.

Will I be able to order documents held off site?

Yes you can still order these a week in advance. Anything with a DA prefix is held off-site.

Can I order photocopies ?

We are currently not able to do photocopying on the day.  You can take photographs on your own device (we have reduced the daily photo permit fee to £5).

You can order copies from our Image Services. These can be scanned images, providing this doesn’t damage the original, or digital images. We would send these out to you (by email or DropBox). This may take around 10 working days. You can request a quote for copies without the need to visit in person.

Why are you sharing my details with the NHS test and trace service?

We will keep a secure temporary record of your visit for 21 days. During this time your information may be shared with the NHS test and trace service if necessary, for example if a visitor on the same day as you tests positive.

We are doing this to help reduce the risk of a local outbreak of coronavirus and in line with government guidance, as we want to do everything we can to protect our staff, visitors and the wider community.

Information will be destroyed after 21 days.

Do I need to wear a face mask?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) usually spreads by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. These droplets can also be picked up from surfaces, if you touch a surface and then your face without washing your hands first. This is why social distancing, regular hand hygiene, and covering coughs and sneezes is so important in controlling the spread of the virus. Face coverings should be used in addition to these measures wherever possible.

From 8 August, face coverings are mandatory in indoor public spaces such as museums and archives. We realise that there are some instances where people are unable to wear a face covering; if this applies or if you lip-read, you might want to let us know if advance so we are aware of this. More information is on the government website.

Staff will be working behind perspex screens but will wear face masks if they need to approach you.

Why do you recommend hand washing rather than using sanitiser?

It has been found that the residue left behind on the hands after the alcohol in hand gel has evaporated is damaging to archival and heritage material so our advice is that you wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds prior to handling this type of material, rather than using hand sanitiser.