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Highland Archive Centre Public Guidance

Highland Archive Service is pleased to welcome you back to our facilities. We are re-opening in a phased way to help us to ensure that our centres provide a safe space for all, and that our services can be delivered safely. It also gives us the opportunity to review our approach with the flexibility to adjust our plans accordingly as required.

Opening Hours

The Highland Archive Centre has revised opening hours and the building will be closed over lunchtime. These opening hours will be reviewed regularly with the aim of offering increased services over time.

2-hour appointment slots are available at allotted times on Tuesdays and Thursdays (mornings and afternoons).  We ask that you book a week in advance of your desired appointment. You can book both a morning and afternoon slot (if available) on your chosen day.

Please e-mail [email protected] for further information, to make an appointment or to arrange a call-back to further discuss your needs.

A member of staff will advise about the appointment times available, your research and the documents you wish to view during your visit. You can order up to 10 items per bookable slot and this can include original archive documents, microfilm and any reference books held in our library. Please give as much information as possible at this stage as no further documents can be ordered during your visit.

If you cannot make it to your booked appointment, please contact us at the earliest possible opportunity to enable us to offer this appointment to someone else.

If you have symptoms of covid-19 before your visit (high temperature, new and continuous cough, loss of taste or smell) please do not come to the Centre.

These procedures will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and are therefore subject to change.

Preparing for your visit

We will send you guidance and information ahead of your visit, including a registration form to be completed prior to arrival.

It is important that you arrive on time for your appointment. We are staggering appointment times to facilitate physical distancing and we will be waiting to let you into the building, so please contact us as soon as possible if you think you may be late.

There will be lockers available for your use, however please try and minimise the personal belongings you bring with you.

Please feel free to email [email protected] if you have any questions prior to your visit.

What to bring with you

  • Laptops – You can bring a laptop or tablet with you. Please let us know in advance if you will require a WiFi code or a charging point for your device as powerpoints are limited.
  • Stationery – Please bring your own pencils/sharpeners/paper, etc. with you. Pens are not permitted in the Searchroom to protect the documents.
  • Cameras – You can take photos of documents with your phone/digital camera, subject to copyright or other restrictions, however we are currently unable to undertake photocopying. There is a charge for camera use of £5 per day. Miniature scanners are not permitted.
  • Face Covering – We ask that you wear a face covering whilst in the building. (Exceptions accepted).
  • Warm Clothing – We will have windows open to allow for fresh air circulation and the public areas will therefore not be as warm as usual.

What to expect when you visit


On arrival please ring the bell and step back on to the designated marker until a member of staff arrives to greet you.  Please note the Registration Service is also operating an appointment system so there may be others waiting outside.

Once inside the building you will be asked to sanitise your hands and give your name prior to being directed to the first floor, via stairs or lift, from where floor signage will direct you to the Family History Centre.

A member of staff will ask you to deposit any coats and bags into a locker that is pre-assigned to you. You may take notebooks, pencils, tablets or laptops through to the Searchroom but these should be removed from your bag. Please remember no food or drink is permitted in the Searchroom.

You can then follow the one-way system arrows through to the Searchroom, sanitising your hands prior to entering.  In the Searchroom staff will direct you to your pre-assigned desk where the documents you requested will be waiting along with document rests, weights, magnifying glass etc.

During your visit

  • We will ask you remain at your desk to minimise circulation around the room.
  • If you need to speak to a member of staff please signal and remain seated, and a member of staff will come to you.
  • Extended consultation with staff will not be possible at present. However, if you are looking for further advice on your research, or would like to enquire about another area of research, please contact us following your visit and we will do our best to assist.
  • Please note that the building will be closed between 12:30-2:00 to allow for enhanced cleaning of public areas and staff lunches.
  • If you need to leave the Searchroom for any reason during your visit we ask you to sanitise your hands on returning to the Searchroom.
  • At present, you will not be able to order any additional documents during your visit.
  • Contactless payments would be the preferred payment method, however we will continue to accept cash for occasions when this is not possible.
  • Toilet facilities will be available.

At the end of your session

We will alert you 10 minutes before your scheduled leaving time. Please note that leaving times must be exact as they are staggered to facilitate physical distancing. Please leave the documents and any other items you have been using on the table as they will be collected after you have left.

Please follow the one-way system through the Family History Centre to collect your items from your locker prior to making your way downstairs where a member of staff will show you out of the building.

If you would like to leave before your scheduled time please let us know.

Please note that, in line with Scottish Government guidance, we will retain your name and contact details for use in Test and Protect for 21 days.

Available services

Services currently available:

  • Archive research in the searchroom – book an appointment to come into the Centre and access original documents
  • Remote archive and family history research – a member of staff can do research on your behalf. This service costs £30 per hour.
  • Remote one-to-one family history consultations – you can book a virtual consultation with the Family Historian. This service costs £30 per hour.
  • Microfilm readers/microfilm
  • Family History and Archive Libraries
  • Public Access Computers

Services initially unavailable:

  • Scotland’s People – the Scotland’s People hub is currently unavailable. This is administered by the Inverness Registration Service who will issue any updates on its re-opening.

The above restrictions will be reviewed on a regular basis.

Physical Distancing and Cleaning Measures

For the safety of staff and customers, we will be introducing physical distancing and enhanced cleaning measures in our centre. Some of these measures will be obvious when you visit, but some will happen behind the scenes.

Throughout the Building

  • Reduced opening hours and an appointment system allows us to manage the number of people in the building at once.
  • Distance markers and a one-way system will be in place to encourage physical distancing between all users of the building.
  • Some services have been temporarily withdrawn to reduce the surfaces and items shared between staff and customers.
  • Toilet facilities will be available but limited to one toilet to allow for easier cleaning.
  • All seating has been removed from the first-floor landing to reduce shared surfaces and facilitate physical distancing.
  • There will be fewer staff in the building to facilitate physical distancing between staff.
  • Hand sanitiser will be available throughout the building.
  • Screens have been installed at staff desks and staff will be wearing face coverings and/or visors
  • Contactless payments would be the preferred payment method, however we will continue to accept cash for occasions when this is not possible.

In the Family History Centre/Searchroom

  • The Archive Searchroom desks have been set up to ensure at least two metres distance between customers and staff.
  • Customer desks in the Searchroom, including any rests or weights used, will be cleaned between customers – at lunchtime and at the end of the day.
  • Lockers will be cleaned between uses.
  • Paper catalogues will be unavailable for hygiene reasons.

Depositing Records

If you wish to discuss depositing records with us, please email [email protected] in the first instance and an Archivist will be in touch to discuss.