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Planning a Visit SoTCA

Planning your visit during the period of coronavirus restrictions

Visits are by appointment, the number of available places is limited. Documents, pottery and local studies material should be ordered in advance.

Please read the whole of this web page so that you understand what we can safely offer you and what we ask of you in return.

Please also read the web page linked below so that you understand the social distancing and hygiene measures that you will be required to follow during your visit, including wearing a face covering during your visit:

Please bear in mind that our opening timetable and the various measures we are putting in place will be kept under review and may change.



Identifying archive, local studies and pottery library  material for your visit

Archive, local studies and pottery library material (including microfilm and microfiche) should be ordered in advance of your visit. To work out what archive, local studies and pottery library  material you need and where they are held you should check the online catalogues, guides to sources and family history resources. Much of our Local Studies material is only referenced in our Local Studies Card Indexes, but staff are happy to search through this index on your behalf and advise you on items to order in advance of a visit. Alternatively, this card index can be accessed during a visit, those items noted can then be ordered in preparation for your next visit, they cannot be produced during that visit.

We currently have flexible limits of ten Archive documents, plus ten Local Studies Library items per visit. Flexibility is mainly dependent upon the way in which items are stored in the strongrooms. Please email us to let us know when you would like to visit and provide a prioritised list of documents that you wish to see, so that we can advise you further.



Reader registration

Please note: County Archive Research Network (CARN) tickets and ARA Archives cards are not currently valid at our service points, although they may be used as proof of identity and address.

On your first visit you must complete a registration card, so that a reader's ticket can be issued. You also need to produce proof of identity and permanent address. There is no need to obtain a reader's ticket in advance of your visit.

As part of registration readers must accept a code of conduct:

Original documents cannot be consulted until registration has been completed.

Where can I use the reader's ticket?

Readers tickets are valid at all of our service points, and the William Salt Library, Stafford, for two years. They may be renewed at any of our service points on production of proof of identity and address.



Making an appointment

Visits are by appointment, as access to the building is staff controlled and we can only accommodate 3 bookings per day.

When booking please let us know the following details:

  • what you wish to look at. Archive, local studies and pottery library material (including microfilm and microfiche) generally require one week's advance notice. See above for further details.
  • how many people are coming - although the very limited number of spaces will be allocated on a “first come, first served basis”, we reserve the right to refuse block bookings on the grounds of fairness to other users. This will be reviewed regularly in the light of demand.
  • visitors with disabilities - if you will be accompanied by a personal assistant, please make this known to staff at the time of booking, so that we can allocate the most suitable space for you and your assistant

To request archive, local studies and pottery library material (including microfilm and microfiche) in advance and book an appointment please contact us.



Opening hours

Please follow the link below to see our current opening hours



What should I bring with me?

  • Reader’s Ticket or identification - you will need to show this to a member of staff but we won’t ask you to hand it over.
  • Pencils - when using the Reading Room you must use pencils, not pens. This helps preserve the documents.
  • Digital camera - you may take digital photographs of some of our records, but we do charge for a permit (£8 for a day permit). Please let us know when making your booking and we will advise you how to pay online. We also have a camera stand which you will need to book in advance of a visit.
  • Warm clothes - we will be keeping the windows open for ventilation.
  • We encourage the wearing of face coverings 

Please bring your own stationery, e.g. notepad, pencil and eraser.



NHS Track and Trace

  • NHS Track and Trace QR code is available as you enter the building.
  • If you have downloaded the NHS Covid-19 App on your mobile device, using the app you should scan our building’s QR code.  The code is prominently displayed as you enter our building.



Family history sources



 Local and general history sources



Transport options

Travelling to Staffordshire or Stoke on Trent to do your research? Please follow current government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene guidance when using public transport.  Please check timetables before travelling, as they can change at short notice.

You may find Traveline helpful in checking out the various options available. 



Finding accommodation

Please visit the following websites to find out what local accommodation options are available.

For overseas visitors the following websites will give tourist information about Staffordshire as a whole, the West Midlands region and Britain nationally.

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