Access Policy

  1. Principles
  2. On-site access
  3. Remote access
  4. Restrictions to access
  5. Improving access
  6. Widening access
  7. Standards
  8. Statutory framework 

The purpose of this policy is to explain how the service makes its collections available for use. Its functions and the information that is available for re-use are set out in our Public Task Statement.

1. Principles

1.1 A key objective of the service is ensuring that collections and services are available to the wider community.

1.2 The service understands that access to collections relies on effective catalogues and its approach is set out in a separate Cataloguing Policy.

1.3 The presumption is that collections are available for access.

1.4 Details of service delivery are published in our service charter and displayed in the public searchroom.

2. On-site access

2.1 The service will provide free access to its holdings, original and online, in the public searchroom within published opening hours.

2.2 The service will provide free access to microform and printed collections at the most appropriate Cheshire libraries within their published opening hours, and access to its online resources according to local internet access arrangements.

2.3 The service will provide suitable conditions and facilities for viewing original archival material and secondary sources of various media.

2.4  The service will provide a suitable level of searchroom staff trained in customer care to:

  • show customers how to use the searchroom;
  • provide advice and guidance in how to use the guides, catalogues, indexes and equipment;
  • provide assistance in identifying relevant sources;
  • help customers order documents and give guidance on handling techniques;
  • explain how to obtain copies (including with personal camera equipment).

2.5 The service will retrieve archive material from our strongrooms for customers on request during published times.

2.6 The service will indicate which documents it has chosen to hold offsite and make them available to access according to timescales that are communicated in advance.

2.7 The service will require all customers to register for a readers’ ticket before using the service.

2.8 The service will require all users of the service to sign the searchroom register indicating that they will abide by the searchroom rules on display.

3. Remote access

3.1 The service will respond to telephone or written enquiries with information about our collections and advice on how to access them. The service will offer a paid research service for customers who would like information checking within the records and will advise of any charges in advance.

3.2 The service will offer a paid copying service subject to current copyright regulations.

3.3 The service will publish up-to-date information about its collections including catalogues online.

3.4 The service will work to make collections and indexes accessible online via the service website and in collaboration with external partners.

4. Restrictions to access

4.1 The service will issue surrogate copies to users, where they exist, to help avoid wear and tear on the original documents.

4.2 If handling or copying would cause damage to the document access may not be permitted, permitted with the presence of a conservator or permitted only following conservation treatment.

4.3 Access to records containing confidential information may be restricted under Data Protection legislation and the catalogue will indicate where this applies.

5. Improving access

5.1 The service will seek to understand, evaluate and develop access by:

  • taking part in the National Survey of Visitors to British Archives organised by the Public Services Quality Group;
  • carrying out surveys on specific areas of the service;
  • consulting key stakeholders and establishing the means to do so as part of delivering the service vision

5.2 The service will provide the means for users to comment on our standards of service verbally, by letter/email or through feedback forms available at the Record Office and on our website.

5.3 The service will measure and monitor performance indicators relating to access.

5.4 The service will communicate responses and actions resulting from comments and results of surveys and performance monitoring.

6. Widening access

6.1 The service will work to increase awareness of its collections and services to new and existing users through a planned programme of events, activities and learning opportunities.

6.2 The service will seek to develop, understand and evaluate its audiences to ensure access for all. The service will encourage potential visitors to mention in advance any arrangements that will help people with disabilities to make the most of their visits and make every effort to put those arrangements in place.

6.3 The service will seek to promote its collections and services to existing and potential users using a variety of communication methods (for example, newsletter, and social media)

7. Standards

National Council on Archives, Public Services Quality Group, A Standard for Access to Archives (2008)

Cheshire West and Chester Council: Local Government Equality Framework, Equality and Diversity statement

Cheshire West and Chester Council: Corporate Customer Care Policy, Standards & Charter

8. Statutory framework

Public Records Acts 1958, 1967

Manorial Documents Rules 1959 and 1967

Tithe Apportionment Rules 1960 and 1963

Local Government (Records) Act 1962

Local Government Act 1972

Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978, amended 1992

Local Government (Access to Information Act) 1985

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015