Information for Researchers: accessing the archives
- You must make an appointment - giving us at least two full working days notice - preferably by email.
- The reading room will be closed to researchers when in use for functions. We do not announce this on the website or anywhere else.
- We will always acknowledge receipt of enquiries and appointment requests so if you do not hear from us please get in contact again.
- You need to have specified the items that you wish to look at in advance of your visit - including catalogue references.
- Coats and bags must be left in the lockers in the basement of the College - a returnable pound coin is required- follow signs from the foyer.
- Only essential belongings should be brought into the Library.
- On your first visit you will need to provide one form of photographic ID (eg passport, driving license) so that we can register you.
- Only pencils and paper or laptops may be used to take notes.
- No food (including throat sweets) or drinks are permitted while consulting historical materials.
- The archives cannot be photocopied but photography can be arranged with the College photographer. We now permit limited personal photography which must be arranged in advance. Please discuss your requirements with staff. See below for further information. The archives staff will give you as much help as they can, but you should bear in mind that:
- Archives and manuscripts usually consist of unpublished material which were not created to be used subsequently as a research resource.
- It may well take you longer than you anticipate to find the information that you are looking for so please be realistic about how much material you can look at during one visit.
- Handwritten material may be difficult to read. It is often not indexed or arranged in a user friendly way.
- You will probably find that it is useful to have done as much research and background reading as possible before you come to the archives.
- Because most of the material housed in the archives is original or rare, and often fragile, a number of regulations govern their use. The observance of these rules is necessary for the long-term preservation of our unique holdings.
- For our guide to family history research in the archives, please see: Family History Research
- For a guide to original resources on the history of medicine, compiled by the Royal College of Physicians and ideal for thesis research, please see: Unlocking the Medicine Chest (pdf)
- There are toilets in the cloakroom at basement level.
- There is a water cooler in the cloakroom at basement level.
- Sockets for personal laptops can be found in the floor near some tables in the Library. Wireless access is now available in the Library. Please ask staff for a guest account. Please note however, that users are unable to plug laptops or other portable devices into the College network. Computer use is subject to an acceptable use policy which is placed next to all computers. We reserve the right to withdraw services and access to all facilities from anyone found to be using the computers in an unacceptable manner.
- PCs are available for use in the main reading room. All PCs offer internet access and basic office software including word processing. Surgicat and the Library catalogues are available on the PCs.
- Photocopying of the archives is not permitted.
- By arrangement the College photographer can make digital copies for you. This cannot usually be done during your visit.
- A quote for the work will be sent to you before the copies are made.
- Limited personal photography is now permitted. You need to ask about this before your appointment so that the restrictions can be explained.
- Changes in UK copyright law after 31 October 2003 placed restrictions on the photocopying of unpublished material. Much 'non-public' material held in the archive collections can only be copied for the purposes of non-commercial research or private study.
- You will be asked to sign a copyright declaration as part of your order form.
For portraits and special collections (eg sculpture) please contact the Museums curators on 020 7869 6560 or email@example.com.