Christmas Opening Hours 2021

Christmas opening hours for the Local History and Family History Rooms (including quiet study) are:

Friday 24 December: 9am to 1pm

Saturday 25 December to Tuesday 28 December: closed

Wednesday 29 December: 9am to 5pm

Thursday 30 December: 9am to 5pm

Friday 31 December: 9am to 1pm

Saturday 1 January to Monday 3 January: closed

Tuesday 4 January: reopen as normal

Christmas opening hours for the Archives Reading Room are:

Friday 24 December to Monday 3 January: closed

Tuesday 4 January: Archives Reading Room reopens as normal

We ask visitors to pre-book spaces for our Archives Reading Room and our microfilm readers in advance. If you arrive on the day without an appointment we will do our best to accommodate you, but priority will be given to pre-booked appointments. The exception to this is Saturday when we can only accommodate pre-booked appointments at present.

Please see below for further details, or to make an online appointment for the Archives Reading Room or microfilm readers.

Finding Us
Our Spaces
What can I expect?
Taking copies of items in our collections

Finding Us

It’s easy to find our Archives and Local History area on the first floor of York Explore Library Learning Centre, just off Museum Street.

We’re just ten minutes’ walk from York railway station, and FirstBus York routes 1 and 2 stop near the entrance.

Once inside the library, just take the stairs from the entrance lobby to the first floor or use the customer lift.

Our Spaces

We have three dedicated areas: the Archives Reading Room, the Family History Room and the Local History Room.  You can also access all the facilities of York Explore, including our cafe and free wifi.

Archives Reading Room

We ask that you make archive bookings in advance (see below for further details)

Monday: 9.30am to 4.00pm
Tuesday: 9.30am to 4.00pm
Wednesday: 9.30am to 4.00pm
Thursday: Closed
Friday: Closed
Saturday: 9.30am to 4pm (pre-booked appointments only)
Sunday: Closed

Our Archives Reading Room is where you can view original archives from our collections. You can find out more about what we hold on our collections pages or by searching our archives catalogue. If you’re unsure where best to start or how to search our catalogue, see our getting started page for advice.

You can make an appointment to view our archives using our online booking form. We ask that you make bookings in advance, and that you request the archives you wish to consult in advance. You are able to pre-order up to 6 items before your appointment. Please note that you will be able to order further items during your visit if necessary, except for Saturday appointments when you can only view pre-ordered items. Staff make further retrievals of archives three times a day at 10am, 12pm and 2pm. If you have any questions about your research, please contact us for advice and we’ll be happy to answer them.

Family History Room

Monday: 9am to 8pm
Tuesday: 9am to 8pm
Wednesday: 9am to 8pm
Thursday: 9am to 8pm
Friday: 10am to 6pm
Saturday: 9am to 5pm
Sunday: 10am to 4pm


Our vibrant Family History room has microfilm readers, public network PCs and a range of family history books, including some stock for children.

If you are new to family history, or if you get stuck, we’ve got a selection of books and services to help you. You can find our more on our Family History page. If you are further on with your research, our PCs in this area offer access to a range of family and local history websites, including free access to Ancestry, Find My Past and the British Newspaper Archive. If you have your own laptop or tablet, you can also get these resources for free through the library wifi network.

Our microfilm collection, which consists of a range of council records and local newspapers, is always popular. If you would like to view these resources we ask that you book a microfilm reader in advance. All of our microfilms are self-service. You can make a booking for a microfilm using our online booking form.

Image shows the archives reading room with two people studying.

Local History Room

Monday: 9am to 8pm
Tuesday: 9am to 8pm
Wednesday: 9am to 8pm
Thursday: 9am to 8pm
Friday: 10am to 6pm
Saturday: 9am to 5pm
Sunday: 10am to 4pm

Our Local History Room is also the Quiet Study Zone at York Explore. It’s the perfect place for anyone wanting to find out more about the city and its history, or simply looking for somewhere to have a seat and read a book in tranquil surroundings.

Our local history collection consists of over 60,000 books, pamphlets, maps, trade directories and other materials about York and the surrounding area which can be consulted but not borrowed. Most of our collections are available on open access. We also have a book scanner and public network PCs if you need to continue your research online.

What can I expect?

Many items in our collection are irreplaceable and fragile.  We ask all visitors to abide by the same guidelines to protect the collections for future generations:

  • All visitors to Archives and Local History should delay their visit if they are feeling unwell.
  • For people accessing original archives, lockers are provided for coats and bags, as these are not allowed in the reading room.
  • All visitors must wash their hands before and after consulting original archives or microfilms, and frequently throughout their visit.
  • Food and drink is not permitted in Archives and Local History, with the exception of the Family History Room, where you may consume drinks, provided they have lids.
  • Please use pencils or a laptop to take notes when using books or documents in the Archives Reading Room.
  • Archives and Local History is a quiet study area. Please set your laptops and mobile phone to silent. We ask that you take calls elsewhere in the building.
  • Please handle all documents and books with care. If required, we will show you how to use our book rests, weights and stands. If you are unsure of how to use the material please just ask us.

Taking copies of items in our collections

You can take copies of items in our collections using your own digital camera, our microfilm readers or our digital book scanners, provided you abide by current legislation, buy a reprographics licence and complete a copyright declaration form.

We don’t allow photocopying because the light can cause significant damage to books and documents over time, and we don’t allow handheld scanners or equipment that requires physical contact with the item being copied.

You can copy images from our book scanners and microfilm readers to USB drives. Fees start from £10 for a day licence (unlimited number of copies). Please speak to a member of staff for further details or see our fees and charges page.