National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Handling Documents - Help Us Protect Our Records

Handling Documents - Help Us Protect Our Records

NRS provides access to a variety of rare and valuable documents, which require care and attention when being handled. We ask that all visitors to our on-site search rooms take note of the following advice and guidance in order to help us protect our records, this forms part of our Conditions of Access:

Good practice when handling documents

  • Records must be handled with great care. Please follow all advice from staff and ask if you are in any doubt regarding record handling.
  • Prior to handling any documents, please ensure to clean and dry your hands
  • Bound material can present problems and you are asked to make use of the aids available. These help to avoid causing strain to bindings.
  • A variety of different aids can be accessed including book cushions, book 'snakes', and weights. Please ask staff if you require any of these.
  • For photographic material, please ask a member of staff for nitrile gloves before handling
  • Do not move documents around the room or remove them from the search room.
  • You should take care to avoid touching the text of documents; acid-free book marks are provided for your use
  • Take care not to mark the documents in any way
  • Take care not to lean on the documents when making notes
  • When consulting loose bundles or papers, please do not take them out of order.

Help us protect our records

  • You are responsible for the care of any records issued to you until these are returned to the custody of a member of staff and checked. Any incidence of wilful damage or theft of the records will be treated very seriously and escalated to senior management in NRS. This may result in police involvement. 
  • You should draw any evidence of existing damage to records to the attention of staff. If you see anything you are concerned about regarding the handling of documents, please report this to a member of staff.
  • Any restrictions that have been placed on access to, or use of, particular records must be strictly observed. Staff will inform you of any such restrictions and advise you concerning applications for access.
  • Vulnerable, rare or fragile items can be transferred onto more resilient and accessible media. In the interests of preservation, therefore, we will ask you to use a surrogate copy of the documents that you request, where one exists (for example a digital image or microfilm), in place of the originals 
  • Please take the time to review our Collection Care and Preservation Policy