Welcome Back – First Steps to Re-Opening Surrey History Centre

July 17, 20207:34 amLeave a Comment

So, after several months of lockdown, Surrey History Centre and many other archives and libraries are beginning to (tentatively) re-open.

It will be so good to see you all back!!  We’ve missed our researchers so much and although we’ve enjoyed corresponding with everyone, it is so frustrating not to be able to provide the face-to-face help and services that we can traditionally offer.

However, returning to institutions and organisations like ours will not be quite the same as we were used to before lockdown.  As with record offices across the country, we will be functioning within strict guidelines laid down by the Government and NHS England to ensure the health and safety of our staff, visitors and the wider community.

Perspex screens to protect both researchers and staff

For example, Every document examined by a researcher will have to be quarantined for 72 hours in a specially designated area in our strongrooms and we will not be able to simply wander around the searchroom helping ourselves to odd books and catalogues or maps. Again, anything removed from shelves by the staff will need to be quarantined for 72 hours.

Due to the environmental issues in our strongrooms, only a handful designated staff are allowed access to archived documents and whilst everyone entering the History Centre is required to use the hand sanitisers, they will then need to wash their hands before handling documents. It seems bizarre but think about it; the sanitiser kills off any bugs and the washing removes the sanitiser residue which might damage the documents.  I bet the Health Authorities never thought of that one!!

Jill testing out our socially distanced research tables!

Consequently there will be conditions attached to visiting us (and I suspect many other record offices around the country).  For example, at Surrey History Centre 6 people will be allowed to visit at any given time, you will be allocated socially distanced seating and you will have to make an appointment to visit.  In addition, research periods will be either morning or afternoon but not both and we will be closing the building completely to the public at lunchtime in order to sanitise the public areas and any documents required must be pre-ordered in advance; nothing can be produced on the day of your visit.  Disappointingly, the computers and microform readers will not be available when we first re-open.

What you will notice are the protective screens, designated waiting areas, hand-sanitising stations and a myriad of signs and instructions on dos and don’ts sprinkled liberally around the premises

Getting ready to welcome everone back!

As I’m writing this, it seems appallingly draconian but this is a learning curve for us too, and in order to be able to re-open we have to operate within a ‘worse case’ scenario.  Luckily what has not changed are all our lovely staff who will be operating with our usual cheerful and optimistic demeanours and since we all have a positive and ‘can do’ attitude working within these restrictions, we really want to make it work!.

We are thrilled to be able to welcome everyone back and these rules and regulations will be as hard for us to follow as they are for you.  I just hope that everyone will appreciate that all these restrictions are fundamentally concerned with keeping everyone and everything safe – documents, visitors and staff.

We look forward to seeing you soon but in the meantime, keep safe and well and Happy Researching!

PS:  More information about visiting Surrey History Centre and a link to FAQs can be found here: https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/culture-and-leisure/history-centre/visit

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Written by Jane Lewis - Modified by ESP Admin

4 thoughts on “Welcome Back – First Steps to Re-Opening Surrey History Centre”

  1. Looking forward to coming back

    1. Jane Lewis says:

      …and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone! Thank you Lorraine.

  2. Sue says:

    It’s great to see you open, so pleased for you but as there is no weekend opening atm I won’t see you for a while. Hope all goes well.
    Best wishes
    Sue

    1. Jane Lewis says:

      Thank you for your kind message. I’m sorry we won’t be seeing you for a while but please keep watching the website and social media as I’m sure that in the coming weeks there will be changes to reflect the ongoing situation. I will keep everyone up to date with any new information. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to get in touch if we can offer any help or advice. Jane

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