Home » Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre Public Guidance

Skye and Lochalsh 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 Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre will have 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.

Initially, 2-hour appointment slots will be 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. Please give as much information as possible at this stage as no further documents can be ordered during your visit.

Please be aware there may be a limit to the number of documents you can request and that, as we are currently required to quarantine documents for 72 hours between uses, documents may be unavailable on certain days.

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.

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

  • Stationery – Please bring your own pencils/sharpeners/paper, etc. with you. Pens are not permitted in the Searchroom to protect the documents.
  • Cameras – We are currently unable to undertake photocopying, however you can still take photos of documents with your phone/digital camera, subject to copyright or other restrictions. There is a charge for this service 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.

Once inside the building you will be asked to sanitise your hands and give your name prior to being directed to the Searchroom 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 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.
  • 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 not available, the public toilets are a five minute walk into the village of Portree.

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 to exit through the main door. 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.

Services initially unavailable:

  • Microfilm readers/microfilm
  • Searchroom Library
  • Public Access Computers

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 are not available but there are public toilets a five minute walk to the village centre.
  • 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
  • Online payments would be the preferred payment method, however we will continue to accept cash for occasions when this is not possible.

In the Searchroom

  • The Archive Searchroom desks have been set up to ensure at least two metres distance between customers and staff.
  • Archival documents will be quarantined for 72 hours after they have been used. This may affect the availability of documents.
  • 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.
  • 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.