Welcome back! A ‘new normal’ for the Searchroom

Welcome back!

As we begin to open the archive again we wanted to introduce you, our users, to our new searchroom procedures. You are still able to consult original documents in the reading area, search through microfilm and fiche, check maps, and use online resources such as Ancestry and Find My Past. However, we’re opening on a reduced basis, meaning that we’ve lowered the numbers of users to five at any one time.

Booking in advance is therefore essential. If you would like to make an appointment, please email us at record.office@westsussex.gov.uk.

If you’re unable to visit, or perhaps not quite ready to, we are continuing to answer your enquiries as fully as possible via email.

Your visit

On arrival, all visitors to the Record Office will be asked to sanitise their hands before entering reception.

Face coverings must be worn throughout your visit. You are free to pop outside the Record Office for a quick break if you wish, just follow social distancing at all times.

You may need to wait in a queue to register, please follow social distancing guidelines and remain two meters apart from others. There are markers on the floor to help you.

Once you have registered at reception, you will be asked to put your belongings into a free locker. As before, you won’t be allowed to take in coats, bags, food, drink, pens, and hand sanitiser.

Finally, before entering the searchroom, you must wash your hands using the facilities.

This will remove any residue of hand sanitiser which can damage original documents, and is also to reduce the potential spread of Covid-19.

On entering the searchroom, please feel free to ask for assistance and direction. As before, all help desks will be manned, but staff will not be approaching users themselves.

We will ask you to maintain social distancing at all times and there will be markers to help you with this.

Documents and resources must be pre-booked. These will be ready for you and put next to your desk on a trolley. Please place your Archives Card in full view on your desk.

Hand sanitiser must not be used in the searchroom, as this can damage documents.


We are very excited to be open again after such a long time and look forward to welcoming you back. We know that these changes may make your experience a different one to before, but we’re all on-hand to help with any questions you might have.

See you soon!

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