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Lochaber 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 Lochaber 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.

Bookable appointment slots are available on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays (mornings and afternoons).  We recommend that you book at least two days in advance and preorder all documents ahead of your desired appointment. You can book both a morning and afternoon slot (if available) on your chosen day. Drop-in customers will also be accomodated as far as possible on the 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 will be waiting to let you into the Archive, so please contact us as soon as possible if you think you may be late.

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.
  • 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 moving throughout 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 in the foyer of Alexander Ross House, please ring the bell for the Lochaber Archive Centre.  A member of staff will speak to you through the intercom to confirm your name and appointment. Please use hand sanitiser, wear your face covering and step back to the designated marker while the door is opened. 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. Please remember no food or drink is permitted in the Searchroom.

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 a member of staff will come to you.
  • 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.
  • Additional documents may now be ordered as part of your visit, please speak to a member of staff who will assist you.
  • Online payments would be the preferred payment method, however we will continue to accept cash for occasions when this is not possible.
  • Toilet facilities are available for customers and these are located in the corridor outside the searchroom.

At the end of your session

We will alert you 10 minutes before your scheduled leaving time. Please leave the documents and any other items you have been using on the table as they will be collected after you have left.

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 – you can 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 is £30 per hour.
  • Remote one-to-one family history consultations – you can book a virtual consultation with the Family Historian via [email protected] This service is £30 per hour.
  • Microfilm readers/microfilm
  • Searchroom Library

Physical Distancing and Cleaning Measures

For the safety of staff and customers, we will be introducing physical distancing and enhanced cleaning measures in the 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.
  • Hand sanitiser will be available in the foyer
  • Screens have been installed at the staff desk and staff will be wearing face coverings
  • Contactless payments would be the preferred payment method, however we will continue to accept cash if this is not possible.

In the Searchroom

  • The Archive Searchroom desk has been set up to ensure at least two metres distance between customers and staff.
  • Customer desk in the Searchroom, including any rests or weights used, will be cleaned between customers – at lunchtime and at the end of the day.

Depositing Records

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