The search room

The search room is on the third floor of Central Library and is available by appointment to consult original archives, rare books, maps, photographs, watercolours, local studies reference books and more.

Computers on the archive floor are for family and local history use only.

Search room opening hours are below - please contact us to arrange a booking.

We require two working days' notice, a list of items needed and reference numbers which can be obtained from the online catalogue. If you experience problems searching the catalogue or can't find what you're looking for then please contact us. The number of items you can view will be limited and staff will advise you at the time of booking.

You'll need to bring your library membership card - if you're not already a member, you can join online or we can register you on the day. If registering on the day, bring a driver's licence, CARN card or a current utility bill or bank statement with you.

Search room opening hours

Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 9:30pm to 4:30pm
Tuesday and Thursday 12:30pm to 7:30pm
Sunday Closed

Your visit


Lockers are provided for bags, cases and document wallets and so on, which are not allowed in the search room. The lockers are operated by a refundable one pound coin.

Viewing requested archives

Once you've signed in at the search room a member of staff will show you to your seat where the items you have requested will be laid out for you. Items are collected at the end of each session.

  • Only pencils may be used in the search room.
  • To help preserve archive documents and bound volumes please use the document supports provided.
  • Clean gloves are provided for handling some items, such as photographs.
  • Please be considerate of other visitors by keeping noise and conversation to a minimum.

Photography and photocopying

Photocopying can cause damage to archive documents, and many of our archives are too large or heavy to be placed on a photocopier.

  • To help preserve these items photocopying of archive materials is restricted.
  • The use of document scanners and scanning pens is not usually permitted.
  • Photographing of documents is usually permitted, without flash. You are welcome to bring a camera with you and photograph items. Please ask a member of staff for a copyright form.
  • A mounted digital camera is available for use, free of charge, in the archive search room.
  • You will need a standard USB memory stick to save images taken with the camera.
  • Our Research Service can also provide digital images.

Laptops and Wi-Fi

  • Electric sockets (240v) are provided for personal laptops/notebooks and cameras.
  • Desktop computers are available in the archive search room with internet access for online archive catalogues and email.
  • Wi-fi is also available throughout the building.

Food and drink

Food and drink are not allowed in the archive search room.