Service Charter

Cheshire Archives and Local Studies Service Charter provides

  • a summary of the services we provide
  • sets out the standards of service you can expect from us
  • tells you what action you can take if these standards are not met

Contents

  1. Our Aims and Objectives
  2. National Standards
  3. Acquisition and Preservation
  4. Access to Information
  5. Visiting Us
  6. Access Restrictions
  7. Copies
  8. Outreach
  9. Charges and Payment
  10. Information about our Service
  11. Tell us how we are doing
  12. Should things go wrong
  13. How to contact us

1. Our Aims And Objectives

The core purpose of the Service is to promote the preservation and use of, and interest in,  the archives and local studies of Cheshire, as a safeguard of democratic accountability, a resource for lifelong learning for individuals and a means of reinforcing community identity.

To achieve this, we will

  • select and preserve the official record of the decisions and actions of the Boroughs of Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East;
  • locate, collect and preserve archives and records relating to all aspects of the development of Cheshire and its communities;
  • acquire a comprehensive range of printed and secondary materials relating to all aspects of Cheshire;
  • actively promote and encourage their use by providing equal and unbiased access to the sources and to information about them through all available means;
  • work in partnership with our users and depositors, societies, individuals and individuals and organisations to stimulate interest in archives and local studies, improve access and help in the long-term preservation of the materials in our care.

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2. National Standards

The Service

  • is approved by the Lord Chancellor as a place of deposit for public records, by the Master of the Rolls for manorial and tithe records and by the Dioceses of Chester and Liverpool for parish and diocesan records;
  • has adopted The National Archives’ Standard for Record Repositories;
  • provides facilities for the physical preservation and storage of documents in line with the British Standard BS 5454;
  • conserves archives to the standards of BS 4971, and more recent accepted practice;
  • arranges, catalogues and indexes records in accordance with current national and international professional standards, incorporated in in-house listing guidelines.

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3. Acquisition And Preservation

We locate, select and collect archives, photographs and other material relating to the history of the County of Cheshire and to the life and work of the people of Cheshire.

  • We locate, select and collect archives, photographs and other material relating to the history of the County of Cheshire and to the life and work of the people of Cheshire.
  • We select and preserve the official record of the decisions and actions of the Boroughs of Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East to promote democratic accountability.
  • We appraise records offered for deposit according to our collection policy.
  • We can advise you of a more appropriate repository if the material offered to the Service falls outside our collection policy.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Please tell us if you know of any archives, photographs and other material relating to Cheshire which are of historical interest, particularly those which might be at risk (for example, when a business has closed).

We acquire printed and other secondary material relating to all aspects of the history of Cheshire, and disseminate them through Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East libraries.

  • We constantly seek new publications, both printed and electronic, relating to the history of Cheshire to ensure that we hold a comprehensive Local Studies collection.
  • We also seek out-of-print material relating to the history of Cheshire.

We ensure long term preservation of unique archival material by

  • storing records in secure strongrooms to provide favourable environmental conditions and protection against fire, flood and theft;
  • monitoring storage conditions and conserving damaged documents;
  • microfilming certain documents to increase and facilitate access to information whilst saving wear and tear on the originals;
  • providing a public Searchroom where original material can be consulted under supervision to ensure the safety of the records;
  • giving advice and training on handling techniques;
  • having a Disaster Plan which provides guidelines of the procedures to be followed in the event of a flood or fire;
  • providing guidelines for the exhibition of archives.

We can advise private owners of archives on their conservation and storage.

Service to owners.

  • All depositors and potential depositors are given a copy of our Terms of Deposit.
  • Owners and depositors of records can negotiate particular terms of deposit such as extended closure period to protect their interests.
  • Records are accessioned and full receipts issued within 10 working days.  We will tell you if there will be a longer delay.
  • We will provide the owner with a catalogue of records received.
  • Identity of donors or owners is not routinely revealed to users; questions of special access, permission to publish etc are handled through this office.

HOW YOU CAN HELP
We encourage donations of original records to the service.  If you own records that are deposited with us, please keep us informed of any changes of address or ownership.

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4. Access to Information

Access to information is available to all, free of charge.

Please note that we make charges for some services such as photocopying.

We will help you understand the range of our holdings and assist you to identify whether we hold material relevant to your enquiry.We

  • receive and respond to enquiries within 10 working days, or let you know if there will be a delay;
  • provide guides, catalogues, indexes, publications and databases to help you identify relevant material;
  • make available guides and indexes to our holdings in our Searchroom, online, and in Cheshire libraries;
  • continue to develop our range of online sources.

We provide courteous trained staff who will explain our services and help you to plan your search.

  • Our replies to your enquiries will have a contact name, address and telephone number;
  • When speaking to you we will give you our names;
  • All staff are identifiable by name badges which include their job title;
  • All staff undergo induction training and regular ongoing job-related training.

Research into sources we hold can be done by

  • visiting the Searchroom and carrying out research in person, free of charge;
  • the staff in response to a short, specific enquiry (maximum 10 minutes);
  • employing our Research Consultant to do extended research into the records on your behalf for a fee.

Alternatively, we can supply a list of independent researchers.

We endeavour to make information about the Service available to all.

Please ask if you require any information in large print, on cassette or in Braille.

We are unable to

  • do all your research for you. We will provide advice, guidance and assistance, and our Research Consultant can carry out investigations on your behalf for a fee.
  • guarantee that we can answer all your queries. The records you want may not have survived or may be subject to access restrictions. If we do not hold the relevant documents we will do our best to point you in the right direction.

HOW YOU CAN HELP
Tell us accurately and concisely the information relevant to your enquiry.

Check our website to see if we answer your question.

Please treat all members of staff with courtesy.

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5. Visiting Us

We provide a public Searchroom, which is open for a minimum of 37 hours per week.  This includes some opening outside normal office hours.

HOW YOU CAN HELP
Contact us in advance of any visit.

Check this website before visiting.

We display our Searchroom rules prominently.
Please help by reading these when you arrive.

We try to make our Searchroom accessible to all.
We provide

  • a hearing loop;
  • parking for disabled users by prior arrangement;
  • access all on one level.

The Searchroom has suitable conditions and facilities for viewing original archival material and secondary sources.
We provide

  • tables for viewing original and printed material;
  •  power points for public use;
  •  a range of microfiche and microfilm readers;
  • free Internet access.

Our Searchroom staff will

  • show you how to use the Searchroom;
  • provide advice and guidance in how to use the guides, catalogues, indexes and equipment;
  • provide assistance in identifying relevant sources;
  • help you order your documents and give guidance on handling techniques;
  • explain how to order copies.

Staff must supervise the public area at all times and this may restrict the amount of assistance available – we hope you will understand and bear with us.

We retrieve the original documents you request from our strongrooms and bring them to the Searchroom.

  • We aim to produce 90% of documents stored in this building within 15 minutes of ordering.  We will tell you if there will be a delay.
  • Documents stored offsite will be produced within 10 working days.

HOW YOU CAN HELP
Talk to us in advance to check that the documents you require will be  available.

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6. Access Restrictions

We will inform you of any access restrictions on records

  • We will note these in the catalogues where possible.

Please talk to us if you require access to any restricted records.

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7. Copies

We undertake to provide copies of documents, subject to any legal, physical or copyright restrictions.

  • Copies will be provided within 10 working days. We will tell you if there will be a delay.
  • If an item cannot be photocopied or scanned we will advise you of other possible methods of copying such as photography, microfilming, or the provision of a certified copy.

HOW YOU CAN HELP
Please talk to us about your requirements.

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8. Outreach

We promote the Service and raise awareness of Cheshire’s written heritage by

  • giving talks to interested groups and to school teachers and students;
  • providing workshops and training sessions;
  • mounting exhibitions;
  • attending local and family history fairs.

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9. Charges And Payments

  • A leaflet with a list of all our charges is freely available in the searchroom, on our website and on request.
  • Copying charges are also detailed on the reverse of the Copy order forms.

We offer a choice of payment method.

  • Payment can be made by cash, sterling cheque or postal order. 
  • We accept most credit/debit cards.
  • You can pay online for many of our services.

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10. Information About Our Service

We issue information about the Service through all available channels, to reach potential, as well as actual, users.

  • We produce a range of leaflets about our services, policies and the sources we hold.  These are distributed to family history societies, schools and colleges, Register Offices, and other public outlets.
  • We maintain a comprehensive website.
  • We issue regular information bulletins.
  • We produce a twice-yearly Newsletter sent to all schools, local history societies, Cheshire libraries and interested individuals.
  • Details of income and expenditure are published in the annual CIPFA Archive Service Statistics.

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11. Tell Us How We Are Doing

We monitor and publish our performance against standards set for the Service.

  • Response times to written and email enquiries are monitored one week every quarter.  Document production times are monitored once every six months.

We gather views of users by

  • taking part in the National Survey of Visitors to British Archives organised by the Public Services Quality Group;
  • carrying out surveys on specific areas of the Service;
  • having a user group with representatives from specific groups of users, which meets at least twice annually to receive reports, to consider Service priorities and to comment and make suggestions.

We encourage you to comment on our standards of service verbally, by letter/email or by means of the Feedback Forms available at the Record Office, in Cheshire libraries and on our website.

You can contact the user group via the Service.

We publish responses to comments and results of surveys and performance monitoring.

  • These are displayed in the public Searchroom and on our website and reported in the Newsletter.

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12. Should Things Go Wrong

If things go wrong we will acknowledge the problem, make sure we have understood and apologise if we are in the wrong.

If you are unhappy with our work or we have not met our standards, please

  • talk to a member of staff when the problem arises. Staff will handle complaints and comments as quickly and effectively as possible;
  • alternatively, use our feedback form
  • Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East residents can contact their local Councillor at any time.

We will respond within 5 working days.

We may not be able to do what you want (for legal reasons, for preservation reasons, or because our resources will not allow it) but we will listen to you and explain the reasons for our actions.

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13. How To Contact Us

There are a number of ways in which we can be contacted.

In person:

Cheshire Record Office
Duke Street
CHESTER
Cheshire
CH1 1RL

Write to:

Paul Newman
Acting Archives and Local Studies Manager

Cheshire Record Office
Duke Street
CHESTER
Cheshire
CH1 1RL

Telephone: 01244 972574

Email the Record Office