Access policy

The policy of Norfolk Record Office (NRO) is to collect and preserve archives relating to Norfolk and make them accessible to as wide a range of people as possible.

In the context of this policy, access covers:

  • Direct use of the collection
  • Information about the collection
  • Development of skills and learning relating to archives
  • Raising awareness of the collection and the services of the NRO

Searchroom access

The NRO provides onsite public access in three locations:

  • The Archive Centre, Martineau Lane, Norwich
  • The Norfolk Heritage Centre in the Millennium Library, Norwich
  • The King’s Lynn Borough Archive in the Town Hall, King’s Lynn

The NRO aims to help people get the best from their visit. An important element in achieving this is the provision of guidance to visitors.

This will, within the availability of resources, be provided free of charge. Where in-depth support is required this may incur a charge.

The NRO will provide access to documents and surrogates at these locations free of charge. Visitors will be required to provide proof of identity and to register as users.

Original documents will only be produced in the searchroom of the building in which they are stored. The NRO aims to retrieve documents from the strongrooms within 30 minutes of the advertised order times.

Every effort will be made to produce documents in a timely fashion - however, the needs of preservation, tracking and security may slow down the rate at which documents can be issued to users.

Document copying services will be provided by the NRO subject to copyright legislation. These will include the ability to purchase licences for self-service photography.

In all cases the preservation needs of the documents will determine the appropriate way in which copies can be taken.

To increase accessibility to documents in poor condition, a conservator may be asked to take remedial action or to assist in making the documents viewable. Where this is practically achievable, users may need to arrange a separate date to view the documents.

Remote access

The NRO will provide access to information on what it holds via its online catalogue free of charge.

It will also provide information on what records it holds by telephone, post and other electronic media. Responses will be provided within the timeframes laid out in the NCC Standards of Service.

Inquiries which require the extraction of information from the collection will be provided within the paid remote access services. This will include a search and a reprographic service.

Learning and educational activities

Archives have enormous potential to support learning for people of all ages. The NRO recognises the importance of this and aims to realise this in a number of ways by providing:

  • Archive activities, events and courses aimed at children and families
  • Workshops, classes and lectures aimed at adult learners
  • Displays and exhibitions
  • Volunteering opportunities

Some of these will be provided off-site, but the emphasis will be placed on encouraging people to visit the NRO and use its collection. There will be a charge for some these activities.

Audience development

In order to raise awareness of the collection and the services the NRO provides, we will engage in promotional activities. A strategy will be in place to guide this work and measure the impact of various activities.

Limitations on access 

Preservation

Access needs to be provided in a sustainable way to ensure the collection is available for future generations. Therefore, the needs of access must be balanced against the needs of preservation as detailed in the NRO Collection Care Policy.

Restricted access periods

The NRO operates within a legislative framework which includes the relevant data protection legislation. This will apply to some of the records it holds. The NRO will make information on these restricted access periods available through its website and catalogue.

Consultation

A system for recording user feedback will be in place to assist in ensuring the NRO is responsive to user needs and reacts to any problems.

This Access Policy was accepted by Norfolk Records Committee on 27 June 2014.