Rules and Regulations

Rules and Regulations for visitors to the archives

You are more than welcome to use The Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum (PISM) archive facilities – we are here to help you.

PISM Archivists aim to do two things

• Provide access to archival documents and material
• Preserve archival documents and material for future readers

Balancing these two aims can be difficult so we have to ask visitors to help by following rules and regulations. These are generally common to most repositories.


To help us ensure the safety of our visitors and staff, and preserve the records for future generations, please observe our rules and regulations for viewing archives, using the reading rooms and handling documents

1. Archives and records include any and every document, manuscript, picture, print, photograph, engraving, etching, deed, map, chart, plan, book, pamphlet, music score, card index, microfilm, microfiche, and any other article of like nature, in hardcopy or electronic format forming part of the holdings of PISM.

2. The archives are open for researchers between 09.30 and 15.45, Tuesday to Friday, March 1st to January 31st (except Christmas, Good Friday and Public Holidays). Please note that PISM is closed during February.

3. Only persons who have completed PISM forms – Personal Details, Rules and Regulations (in pen or on computer) and made an appointment will be allowed to view the archives. The number of reader spaces is limited, so please book early. If you intend to be accompanied by a family member, friend, assistant or carer, they will also need to have to book an appointment at the same time, as space is very limited. You are only allowed to be accompanied by one person.

4. Please do not come to PISM if you feel unwell.

5. Permission to view the archives and use the reading room is at the discretion of the (PISM) Staff.

6. If you are visiting the archive department, you may only enter the ground floor cloakroom, the archivists’ offices and the reading room. Entry to all other parts of the building is strictly prohibited.

7. Researchers will not be allowed access to the archives or reading room without first completing and signing the following PISM forms: Registration form, Rules and Regulations and Fees and Charges. These are available on our website.

8. All fees and charges must be paid when placing an order or before leaving PISM, no later then by 16.00.

9. If only taking notes, for which no charge is levied, researchers are encouraged to make a donation to PISM.

10. Persons under 18 years of age may be admitted to the reading room at the discretion of the Staff, but must be accompanied by an adult who accepts responsibility for them during their visit. They must remain with the responsible adult at all times. All rules, fees etc apply equally to them and the accompanying adult is responsible for ensuring that these are adhered to. Both the young person and their accompanying adult will be asked to leave if any rules are broken, for example through noise or disturbance to other readers. The reading room is unsuitable for young children.

11. No animals other than assistance dogs belonging to a disabled person or under their control are allowed to enter PISM.

12. Smoking is prohibited in the whole building – You must not smoke, light a match, use a cigarette lighter, or use an e-cigarette in any part of PISM.

13. No food, drink (including water), sweets or chewing gum may be brought into the Reading room or consumed anywhere within PISM, other than in the cloakroom. Staff must be informed that you intend to do so. If you need a drink of water please ask staff.

14. No bags, rucksacks, briefcases, document cases or any other container, scissors or sharp items, coats or umbrellas are to be taken into the reading room. These must be deposited in the lockable lockers provided (free of charge, but at the owners risk) in the ground floor cloakroom.

15. You may only bring the basket provided in the lockers for valuables and/or medication required for emergency use. Restricted items, even though they may be valuable, may not be taken in.

16. Luggage may not be brought into PISM (unless, in exceptional circumstances, authorised by a member of staff. In such cases it must be left in the ground floor cloakroom at the owner’s risk).

17. You must allow any bags, containers, coats and other possessions, including working papers, to be searched at any time at the request of a staff member.

18. No video recording is permitted without the authority and approval of a Trustee or Senior Staff member on duty and payment of appropriate fees. All approved video recording will be invigilated.

19. Silence is to be maintained in the reading room. If laptops, phones etc are being used, they must have their sound turned off.

20. No documents, archives or anything belonging to PISM may be taken out of the reading room.

21. No pens, highlighters, coloured pencils of any sort or erasers are permitted in the reading room.

22. Only standard graphite ‘B’ pencils (not coloured and without erasers) may be used for writing or drawing within the Reading Room. No one may sharpen a pencil within PISM except in a place, which has been designated by a member of staff.

23. With the permission of staff, you may bring in two of the following: a laptop, tablet, mobile phone or camera (fees will apply). Chargers for chosen devices are allowed free of charge, but a donation is requested.

24. Please sanitize your hands on entering the building and then wash them before and after using the reading room.

25. All visitors to the reading room will be signed in and out by a staff member.

26. Until further notice, a face covering (mask), must be worn in all areas of PISM including when registering or dealing with staff and at your desk in the Reading Room.  If the visitor has a legitimate reason not to do so, this must be disclosed to staff and entered on the personal information form.

27. You must not intentionally or recklessly obstruct any member of staff in the execution of his/her duty, or disturb, obstruct, harass, embarrass, interrupt or abuse any member of staff or any other person using PISM. Such behaviour and/or actions may result in immediate exclusion or removal from PISM and carry a potential ban from using PISM. Persons asked to leave for breach of any rules may find themselves excluded from further use of PISM.

28. The senior member of PISM staff on duty is empowered to ask visitors displaying unacceptable or abusive behaviour to leave and may, if appropriate, escort them from the premises and/or call the police if required.

29. All visitors must abide by the Health and safety Policy of PISM and in case of emergency will follow the instructions of PISM staff. ‘Emergency’ includes situations where all or part of PISM is required to be evacuated for security reasons or because of threat from fire or other hazard including practices and false alarms.

30. Any injuries, however slight, must be reported to Staff who will enter the incident into PISM’s incident/accident book and will arrange for first aid if necessary.

31. Data Protection Act and use of copied records – Please note that under the terms of the Data Protection Act 2018, readers or users become the Data Controller for any information obtained from PISM that identifies living individuals. Further assistance on responsibilities under the Data Protection Act is available from the Information Commissioner,

32. Having completed the required forms, the researcher will be able to discuss their project with one of PISM’s archive staff, who will describe how the archives work. The researcher will decide what type of service they require – as set out in the Fees and Charges document.

33. If the researcher intends to order files for viewing, they should bear in mind that orders may only be placed 3 times a day: 10.00, 12.00 and 14.30.

34. If a file has been digitalised, you will be given access to the electronic file and not the original paper one, except in exceptional circumstances.

35. Only a maximum 27 files can be ordered in a day with no more than 9 at any one time.

36. Only one file at a time can be viewed and must be returned in good order before the next file can be collected.

37. All documents are to be handled extremely carefully and laid flat on the table to prevent excessive handling and stress on the paper.

38. You must not subject a file to inappropriate handling or deliberately, carelessly or negligently mark, soil, tear, cut, deface, damage, injure or destroy any record, or the furniture, fittings or other contents of PISM. Any accidental damage must be immediately notified to PISM staff.

39. Writing on or marking and folding or creasing any document or material is prohibited.

40. Do not remove items for photocopying or scanning; please request paper slips from the archivists for indicating the pages to be copied or scanned. Digital copies requested, only by PDF numbers, not any other numbering.

41. Do not mark or lean on the papers or material being viewed.

42. Do not set your notes or anything else on documents or material being viewed.

43. The licking of fingers to aid turning pages is prohibited.

44. No tracing paper is allowed to be used.

45. No notes or drawings are to be made on paper, which has been laid on archives.

46. If you finish with the first nine files before the next order time, you will have to wait until the next order is ready as at 33 above, unless staff can accommodate your request earlier.

47. You may not allow access to the files that you are working on to any other person or remove them from the reading room.

48. Catalogues and finding aids for the use of researchers can be found on the shelves in the left hand corner of the reading room (these will be pointed out by staff). Any other indices, catalogues etc will have to be obtained directly form staff.

49. Availability of files is not guarantied.

50. All items will be quarantined for 72 hours after being used. This might mean an item is not available when you want it. Staff will make every effort to let you know in advance of your visit but this may not always be possible.

51. PISM staff will be the arbiters of which files are or are not available and do not have to explain why a file is unavailable.

52. Some files may not be available, because they are in the process of being scanned. In such instances, staff will give an estimate of when the files are likely to become available.

53. If cameras or phones are going to be used (remember that there is a charge for this) counters numbers will have to be registered with staff before commencement and at conclusion of use. Fees will be based on these readings, the quality of the photographs is irrelevant – you will be charged on the numbers indicated.

54. All copies of archives and records, in any format, are for the sole use of the researcher obtaining them. They will not be published in any format without a license being obtained from PISM for which there will be a charge. Equally, they may not be sold or passed on to any other person.

The Trustee Directors

I agree to abide by the above rules:

…………………….. …………………… ………………….
Print name Sign Date

Please note that PISM has gone cashless and except in exceptional circumstances, will be accepting PayPal, credit or debit card payments only.

Check our Fees and Charges

Before coming to the Institute please familiarise yourself with the list of Fees and Charges.

To see our fees and charges list click here.

3. Postal / Email enquiries

Research by PISM Staff

If you cannot find required documents on-line, or you are unable to come to the Institute in person, you can ask our highly trained staff to carry out research for you. You can email your enquiry or send it by post. Alternatively, you can fill in an electronic form via the button below.


All postal/email archival enquiries for research to be carried out by PISM staff will be charged at £50 for up to a maximum of two hours per enquiry, with no guarantee of success, plus postal and document copying charges (as detailed in our Fees and Charges document). No work will be carried out without prior written agreement to cover indicated fees.


Please note that postal/email enquiries can take up to 6 months to be processed.

Support Us

The Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum is a registered charity (no. 312168) and other than funds that we generate through our activities, we are totally reliant on membership, donations and legacies to enable us to carry on with our work.