Reference Room Reopening
The Reference Room of the BC Archives is currently facilitating onsite access by appointment only.
Everyone in BC is now required to wear a mask in all public indoor settings, including visits to the Reference Room.
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, masks can play a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19, as they act as a barrier and help stop the spread of droplets from a person’s mouth and nose.
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.
To ready itself for reopening, the Royal BC Museum implemented numerous physical distancing measures, engineered controls and administrative changes to help limit the resurgence of the virus and protect staff and visitors.
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:
If you know exactly what records you want to view, you will be asked to enter each reference code, microfilm reel, or box number for the records into the form. Please be as detailed as possible in filling out the template with your requested records.
If you do not have the full reference code for a record, or you need assistance locating relevant records, select the option for assistance on the form. Once submitted your request will be forwarded to an archivist.
A staff member will connect with you to provide an available appointment date before confirming the appointment.
As the reference room is limited to five researchers at one time, appointment spaces fill up quickly. Please submit your appointment requests well ahead of any deadlines you may have.
You can also connect with staff regarding appointments by leaving a message at 250-387-1952 requesting an appointment and detailing the records that you would like to review.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to have an archivist help you.
- What can I do onsite?
Researchers will be able to access paper, audio/visual and microfilm records as well as any digital records that are not available online while onsite. You will be able to photograph records, as well as print and download copies of microfilm.
Researchers will not be able to request additional records while onsite, or consult card catalogues. To borrow hard-copy finding aids, weights, props or photography stands, please ask a staff member in advance of your visit. Access to hard copy finding aids will be via request to staff, as will any request for weights, props or photography stands.
Access kiosks will be extremely limited – if you do require use of an access kiosk to locate records please let a staff member know in your pre-appointment correspondence.
All researchers will be required to provide a list of material they require at least seven days in advance of their visit. This will provide time for staff to bring material from offsite and quarantine it for the required 72 hours. All material handled by a researcher will also be quarantined after its use for 72 hours.
- What are your hours?
Our hours, as of September 14, are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10 am to 12 pm and 1 pm to 4 pm. Researchers can book AM or PM, or full day appointments. All researchers will be required to leave the reference room between 12 pm and 1 pm so additional cleaning can take place.
- Are you charging for remote services?
The archives are not fully-funded, and reproduction fees contribute to the care and safeguarding of the collection. 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?
To keep staff and researchers safe, we’ve significantly changed how the reference room functions. We will be operating on an appointment only system, where all records requests, including for microfilm, must be submitted at least seven days prior to the appointment date. Appointments will be booked through our Online Form or through the archives reference room phone line at 250-387-1952. Researchers will need to have confirmation from a staff member that they have booked an appointment; leaving a message or sending an email will not be sufficient to secure your spot.
There will be no longer be onsite retrievals of records, including microfilm. All materials requested must be submitted at least seven days before the scheduled appointment.
- 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 allow for social distancing. WorkSafe BC has determined that the total capacity of the room during this time is only eight people, including staff, so we have limited the number of available research appointment to five per day, to account for staff fulfilling remote inquiries. Cleaning of all touchable surfaces has been increased and hand sanitizer is readily available for all researchers and staff. There will be no one-on-one interaction with staff in the reference room. All archival material will be provided on a cart for each researcher; at the end of the day, the researcher will put the material back on the cart and it will go directly into quarantine.
You will need to bring your own pencil, as communal pencils are no longer available.