Reference Room Reopening
Updated July 2021
The Reference Room of the BC Archives is currently facilitating onsite access by appointment only.
On July 19, 2021 we will be increasing reference room capacity, as well as returning to on-demand retrievals and self-serve microfilm. Card catalogues and hard-copy finding aids can also now be fully accessed.
We still recommend that all researchers continue to wear masks during their visit, and maintain distance from each other while accessing research guides, card catalogues and finding aids.
As we have throughout the pandemic, we are following the advice of the public health authority as we adjust and improve our health and safety program.
The BC Archives has taken similar steps in the Reference Room. As the Reference Room is a high-touch area, staff have carefully considered the expansion of in-person service, balancing access to materials with the need to protect staff and researchers from possible infection.
- How do I book an appointment?
To book an appointment use our online form here:
Please fill out the form requesting the number of days you would like to be in the reference room, and if you have specific dates you would like to request or if you would like the next available appointment.
A staff member will connect with you to confirm the appointment. Please submit your appointment requests well ahead of any deadlines you may have, as there can be up to four weeks’ delay before the next available appointment.
You can also connect with staff regarding appointments by leaving a message at 250-387-1952
- How do I locate records?
There are many ways of locating records that you will need for your research. We have a number of online guides for assistance in starting a research project, which you can find on the archives website here. The BC Archives has three different databases to find resources relevant to your research: our library catalogue, our genealogy database, and our archives online search page.
If, after you have done a preliminary search, you still need assistance in locating records, email email@example.com to have an archivist help you.
- What can I do onsite?
As of July 19, 2021, researchers will once again be able to use access kiosks to identify records, retrieve and return microfilm reels, listen to and watch digital content on the A/V station, consult card catalogues and hardcopy finding aids, submit call slips for on-demand retrievals and consult with a reference archivist.
- What are your hours?
The reference room is open Monday to Saturday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, by appointment only. Researchers can book full days or an AM appointment, from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, or a PM appointment, from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
- Are you charging for remote services?
The BC Archives is not fully-funded, and reproduction fees contribute to the care and safeguarding of the collection. The reproduction of records is a labour-intensive and time-consuming process, and because of this we cannot provide remote or in-person reproductions at no cost.
- What is different?
We are starting to move back to the procedures we had in place prior to the start of the pandemic. This will make access to records more equitable and organic discovery of information within our holdings easier. Reference staff will be in the Reference Room to help researchers navigate the records and the equipment.
When researchers book an appointment, they will only need to book a specific date or dates in the Reference Room instead of providing a complete list of records in advance. We still recommend that researchers contact us in advance of their appointment regarding records with potential restrictions or that may be stored offsite. Contact us through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 250-387-1952.
- What are you doing to keep researchers safe?
We have made many changes to the Reference Room, including rearranging desks, microfilm machines and furniture to ensure wide pathways throughout and to allow for social distancing. Cleaning of all touchable surfaces has been increased and hand sanitizer is readily available for all researchers and staff.
Plexiglass screens have been installed at the retrievals, service, and reference desks for safe interaction between staff and researchers. Tables have been arranged to allow for continued social distancing between researchers and staff.
- When will you return to full service?
The Royal BC Museum and BC Archives are working with the provincial government and public health authorities to ensure that we are following current COVID-19 guidelines. As soon as we have a date for the full re-opening of the Reference Room, we will post this information on our website.