Handling and Copying Archives


Archival and special collections material is unique and irreplaceable, which means that careful handling is needed to preserve the material for future use. Archive repositories have some common-sense rules for you to follow when handling archival and special collections material, which will help to prevent damage to items.

Here are the main things to remember:

  • Hands should be clean and free of creams and lotions as dirt and grease can penetrate the surface of documents and cause damage. Gloves are not usually required.
  • Do not lean on a bound volume or document and do not write on top of any item. Use any equipment provided such as book supports and weights.
  • Use pencils only for note taking or electronic equipment.
  • No eating and drinking is allowed when accessing material.
  • Keep loose items in order - always return material in the same order in which you received it.
  • We will ask users to store their bags in a designated place before accessing material.


Archival and special collections material is subject to UK copyright legislation, which researchers must comply with. The following terms apply:

  • Copyright of archival documents remains with individual copyright owners. The library cannot grant consent on behalf of the copyright owner and responsibility for obtaining copyright clearance rests with the applicant.

  • We may be able to supply copies of records only if they are in accordance with current copyright legislation. We may charge a small fee.

  • You must obtain permission from all relevant copyright owners first if you are planning to use our material for commercial or other publication purposes.

  • Items and collections deposited with us may be subject to individual copyright licences or permissions, whose terms must be followed in all instances. Where no specific terms apply, you may be able to reproduce a single copy of an item for personal research or study, educational or non-profit purposes. You must provide full citation details of the item, including the name of the repository and the reference number of the item, and a link or URL to the original metadata page. The content of items must not be changed in any way.

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