Gwynedd Archives Service Access Policy

Mission Statement

The aim of Gwynedd Archives Service is to protect the archival heritage of the county by collecting, preserving, giving access to and promoting the use of the archives to offer experiences that will enrich, inspire, educate as well as enjoy.


Policy Aims

The aim of the policy is to outline how we meet the Service’s mission to give access and promote the use of the archives.


Statutory and Legal Status of the Service

Gwynedd Archives Service collects in accordance with the powers given under the Local Government Acts 1962 and 1972, and Section 60 of the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994.

 In accordance with the Scheme made under Section 60 of the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994 the Service has transferred collections proven to belong to Conwy with the agreement of their depositors.  Such transfer is subject to the overriding principles that the integrity of the archival groups should be preserved as far as possible and practicable.

Gwynedd Archives Service’s Record Offices have been appointed as places of deposit by the Lord Chancellor as repositories for local public records under the Public Records Act 1958.

Gwynedd Archives Service is recognised as a repository for parochial records by the Representative Body of the Church in Wales and to acquire records within the area as defined by its agreement with the Service.

Gwynedd Archives Service is recognised by the Master of the Rolls as an official repository for manorial and tithe records under the Law of Property Act, 1922, the Law of Property (Amendment) Act, 1924 and the Tithe Act, 1936.

Gwynedd Archives Service abides by current archives legislation including:

  • Public Records Act 1958
  • Local Government Act 1962
  • Local Government Act (Wales) 1994
  • General Data Protection Regulation 2018
  • Freedom of Information Act 2000
  • Environmental Regulations 2004


Onsite access at both Caernarfon and Meirionnydd Record Offices

Access to collections is available at both Record Offices free of charge.  Both buildings are signposted and opening hours are available to view online and are displayed on each building.  Both buildings and all public areas are fully accessible to disabled people.

On arrival

Researchers are expected to:

  • Sign the visitors book
  • Hold a current CARN ticket, or apply for a ticket showing proof of identity or complete a temporary visitor’s ticket permitted for a single initial visit
  • Respect the Search room Rules


The search rooms are supervised at all times by experienced and knowledgeable staff.  Staff will instruct users on how to use the index and the catalogues, and also the equipment available.  They will also guide users to relevant collections.

Staff will be polite and professional and will help and guide users but will not research on their behalf.

Search rooms

To aid users to identify material related to their research the search rooms contain:

  • Indices of personal names, parishes and place names and also subjects for catalogued collections. 
  • Hard copies of catalogues.
  • Printed research guides.
  • Microfilm and microfiche readers to view sources available on film or fiche
  • Computers to access the internet and family history websites free of charge
  • Free Wi-Fi

Handling documents

Researchers are expected to follow the search room rules which are explained to new users and are available at both search rooms along with posters reminding users of do’s and don’ts.

Staff will invigilate the handling of documents and advise and offer the use of book supports and weights.

If staff believe that a documents is too fragile, they will refuse access to the document.

Copying documents

All copying is completed by a member of staff.  Relevant legislation, the wishes of the depositor and the physical condition of the document are all considered prior to copying.

A charge is made for copying and a copyright declaration form must be completed before the copies are issued.  Should a researcher want to reproduce the copy, a reproduction form has to be completed and a further charge is made.  A list of charges and all the relevant forms are available at both search rooms and online.

Access restrictions

Access is restricted to some documents due to the following factors:

  • Legislative restrictions
  • The depositor has specified an agreed closure period
  • The document is too fragile and is awaiting conservation
  • The collection is uncatalogued

All restrictions are noted in the catalogues.


The following security measures are in place to protect the collections in our care

  • Constant invigilation in both search rooms
  • Limiting the number of documents issued per user
  • Search room rules
  • CCTV inside and outside the buildings


Remote Access


Gwynedd Archives Service responds to postal email and phone enquiries according to Gwynedd Council policy:

  • Respond to an enquiry within 7 working days
  • If it is not possible to respond to the enquiry within 7 working days, the enquiry should be acknowledged and a full response sent within 15 working days.
  • If it not possible to send a full response within 15 working days, a response should be sent explaining the delay.

Staff will search for relevant material relating to enquiries such as searching through indices and catalogues, but will not consult the original material and search the original material on behalf of the enquirer.  If the enquirer is unable to visit the Record Office then an in-house paid research service is offered.  The research form can be posted and is also available on-line

Remote enquirers can obtain copies by following the same procedure as those visiting the Record Office


Access is given to the collections via the Service’s website which contains a list of collections held and also on-line catalogues to item level description of a percentage of the Service’s holdings and also on the Archives Hub website. 

Access to original material relating to the slate quarry collections can be found on the Slatesite site



Gwynedd Archives Service aims to promote the collections through a variety of means

  • Talks and courses in the community
  • Talks and group visits to the Record Offices
  • Taster sessions
  • Family history courses
  • Open Days
  • Participating in national initiatives such as Explore Your Archive Campaign; Kids in Museums Takeover Day
  • Collaborating with other Council departments, e.g. Museums Service, Community Arts, Tourism Service
  • Working with local heritage institutions, e.g. Fusion network
  • Working with local and national media companies and publishers.

The service makes specific provision for local schools through its Education Service, see the Education Service policy.


Consultations and Feedback

The Service welcomes comments and feedback.  Both search rooms have comments boxes for general comments and suggestions and also for customer satisfaction slips which are distributed to each unique user.

The Service consults annually with its users either through the ARA Visitor and Distance Surveys or its own questionnaire.

Complaints are recorded and responded to according to Gwynedd Council’s complaints procedure.



Access to the service is evaluated by:

  • detailed records of visitor figures
  • questionnaires and satisfaction slips
  • participation in the Archive Service’s performance indicators and improvement plan
  • recording the number of enquiries received
  • recording the number of visitors to the on-line catalogue