What is the searchroom?

Our environmentally controlled searchroom is where you can consult archives, rare books and other items not on open access. It is a quiet area where we ask that you turn off mobile phones and respect other users by keeping noise down to a minimum.

Please note that the searchroom is covered by CCTV to ensure the safety and security of our unique collections.

What is an accredited reader?

You might have noticed in our online catalogue the phrase "Access will be granted to any accredited reader". To be an accredited reader and use the searchroom you will need a Hull Library card.

If you don't already have a Hull Library card you can register online here: Join the Library. You can also register when you arrive at the History Centre. Please bring some identification showing your name and address, such as a driving licence or recent utility bill. You do not have to be a resident of Hull to join the library. Find out more about what you can do with your library card here.

If you do not wish to register for a library card or do not have ID, we will issue a temporary searchroom ticket for you.

Arranging your visit

The Hull History Centre search room is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9.30am and 4.30pm. We recommend that you book a space in advance to ensure that we can have material ready for your visit.

To reserve a space, please email us or telephone 01482 317500 between 9.30am and 4.30pm Tuesday to Thursday. Please provide us with your name, details of when you intend to visit, and a contact email and telephone number.

You can order up to 6 items in advance. Please use our online catalogue to identify the items you would like to see, and provide the reference number and a brief description of each item when booking.

There will be regular opportunities during your visit to request further material.

You will need a Hull Library card to use the searchroom - please see "What is an accredited reader?" above for details.

Please ensure you bring your own paper and pencils to make notes.

Please bring a camera with you if you wish to make copies of documents, as our photocopying service is subject to staff availability and depends on the condition of the original document. We cannot photocopy documents made of parchment, documents which are larger than A3 in size, bound volumes, or any item which would be damaged by photocopying. If you would like photocopies but staff are not available to carry out the copying during your visit we may ask you to collect your copies at a later date, or charge a fee for postage. Our standard charges apply. You can pay any charges at our Enquiry Desk.

What can I take into the searchroom?

Before you enter the searchroom please wash your hands. This is to protect the unique and irreplaceable documents you will be using.

Make sure you have a pencil (pens are not permitted) and paper and any research notes you need to help with your enquiries. The searchroom is kept cool so you may wish to bring an extra layer of clothing to ensure you are comfortable whilst you carry out your research.

Laptops and digital cameras can be used but we will ask you to put laptop and camera bags in the lockers provided.

Can I photograph items in the searchroom?

In most cases, yes. We make a charge for each shot taken with a digital camera and you will be asked to complete a copyright form. If you are taking more than 50 images it would be cost effective for you to purchase a day pass which allows you to take unlimited images for one day. Please see our List of fees for details.

What will I find in the searchroom?

Staff in the searchroom will point you in the right direction and answer questions relating to your research. They will show you how to use the personal name and street name indexes, the archive collections catalogues and the Trade Directories.

There is a computer there to enable you to search the online catalogue. If you have a wifi enabled device there is free wifi throughout the public areas including the searchroom. The password changes each month so look out for notices in these areas. The Eduroam network is also available for academic visitors.

What can’t I take into the searchroom?

Coats, bags and all personal belongings should be left in one of the secure lockers provided. These can be found in the Library.

Food and drink (including bottled water) must not be taken into the searchroom. There is a refreshment area in the arcade where you can sit and enjoy snacks, cold and hot drinks purchased from the coffee trolley.

Pens, ink, scissors, penknives, and any other items which may cause damage to documents are not permitted in the searchroom.

The use of portable scanners is not allowed due to the risk of causing damage to documents during handling and scanning.

How do I use the searchroom?

When you enter the searchroom you will need to sign the reader’s register on the staff desk. Please give your library card to the searchroom staff - they will keep it during your visit. Don't forget to take it with you when you leave!

Once you have completed a request slip indicating what items you would like to see they should be placed in the tray on the staff desk. We retrieve the items you have requested every half hour (at quarter to and quarter past the hour), so please bear in mind if you have not ordered in advance there will be a short wait before your documents are ready. The final collection of the day is 45 minutes before the searchroom closes.

Can I order items in advance?

Yes, you can order items before you visit. Please contact us prior to your visit with the reference number and description for up to 6 items and we will get the items out for you. Please contact us by noon the day before your intended visit at the latest.

Do the documents need special care?

Documents should be treated with the utmost care. Please do not lean on them or apply unnecessary pressure. Documents and reference books cannot be taken out of the searchroom.

You should take care to keep files and bundles of documents in the order in which they were given to you and if you wish to have an item copied, please ask a member of staff for a marker slip to identify the specific page(s).

Volumes should be placed on one of our book cushions or book rests to support it, and we have special document weights to use with rolled maps and plans.

Staff on duty will advise on how specific documents should be handled and treated and there are notices on every desk detailing our photocopying and handling policy.