Using the collections

The Royal Berkshire Archives (RBA) holds hundreds of thousands of individual items in its collections, so we appreciate that you will need some help to find out what we've got.

Before you visit us you can look at our online catalogue to find the references of documents in advance. You can then pre-order up to six and we can get them out for you ready for your visit.

We aim to assist all our visitors with their research as best as we can but are unable to provide a one-to-one service.

To avoid disappointment, it is advisable to book a place in advance to visit us. Please see our Planning a Visit Page for full details on how to make a booking.

Many of our most popular items are also available as microform copies in the searchroom. In such cases, we ask you to use the film or fiche copy in order to protect the originals from over-handling or damage.

In the searchroom, there are a variety of catalogues and indexes available for your use, providing references to documents which you can order and consult. We fetch items from the strongrooms throughout the day, but please bear in mind that we do have a final production time each day.

The final productions per day are: 4.15pm on Tuesday to Thursday and 3.30pm on Friday. We will also request your items back from you within the last 15 minutes of the day.

We have a duty of care to look after the collections, so we also ask that you take care when you handle any item that you are looking at.

Some things we ask of you:

  • If you have something to eat or drink before you come into the searchroom, to please remember to wash your hands before you touch the documents.

  • To please use pencil and paper or a laptop for making notes.

  • To please be careful not to put anything on top of an item.

  • To please use the protective polyester sheets provided if you want to follow the text of an item with your finger, or to make a tracing.

  • To please place volumes on the supporting cushions provided.

  • To please use gloves for items if asked to. 

By taking care in this way, you can help us to preserve the collections. If you are at all unsure as to how to handle an item, staff are always on hand to help and advise. We hope that you enjoy looking at the collections at the RBA.