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.

Arranging your visit

From 14 June 2022 the Hull History Centre search room will be open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9.30am and 4.30pm. You can book an appointment for a morning, afternoon or all-day session.

Morning appointments run from 9.30am-1pm. Afternoon appointments run from 1pm-4.30pm. Please note that no archival material will be retrieved from the store during the lunchtime period after 11.45am and before 2.15pm, so if you are booking an afternoon appointment please make sure you order material in advance.

Please only make arrangements to travel to the History Centre once you have received confirmation of your booking. Please come on your own unless you have booked multiple seats.

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 hope to visit, and a contact email and telephone number.

So that you can have material waiting for you on arrival, 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.

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.

To protect customers and staff we ask you to please continue to wear face coverings when in the History Centre.

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.

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. If you haven’t made an appointment in advance we will need to record your name and address.

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. There is no collection between 11.45am and 2.15pm. The final collection of the day is 45 minutes before the searchroom closes.

Can I order items in advance?

We advise you to order documents in advance. 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.