Search room user guide

On arrival

  • There is an intercom on the outside of the building. The button for BT Archives is clearly marked, You will be collected by a member of the team.
  • We will ask you to complete a short visitor form before starting your research
  • Free personal lockers are available for visitors to secure their property

Finding the information you require

Research material is broadly divided into three categories; the telecommunications library (printed sources), Archives (original source documents) and visual media (photographs, films and videos). 


Many journals, reference books and other printed sources are available on open shelves.  Our online catalogue can be used to search the core collection.


Records under 30 years old are closed to the public under the Public Records Acts, 1958 and 1967, and BT policy. Our online catalogue can be used to search the archival documents open for public inspection. This online catalogue will be incorporated in to the BT Digital Archives in due course. We reserve the right to withhold documents which are uncatalogued or in a fragile condition.

Photographic, film and video collections

The historical photographic collection is comprised of approximately half a million images on telecommunications themes dating to the last century. Although the catalogues for our photographics and motion content are not yet online they are accessible within the searchroom and, for the photographs, via a comprehensive subject picture library. images from our two primary photographic series are available in the BT Digital Archives.

Obtaining and using documents

The documents we keep are in most cases unique and irreplaceable. To ensure their survival for future researchers please observe the following guidelines:

  • There's no eating and drinking in the Search room  - local catering information is available from members of staff
  • A non-smoking policy applies to the building
  • Keep documents in the same order in which they were found within the files and place them back in the correct box after use
  • Pencil must be used at all times when making notes as ink cannot be removed from documents 
  • No marks should be made on documents
  • Under no circumstances can documents be removed from the search room
  • Do not lean on documents or open volumes, or write notes while resting on them
  • Support cushions are available for large books or for volumes with weak spines
  • Do not stack open volumes on top of one another

Photocopies and publication

  • All our documents are made available only on condition that none should be reproduced or published until we have given permission and advised on copyright, reproduction fees and appropriate forms of acknowledgement
  • Photocopies are provided at our discretion and are subject to copyright restrictions. You will be asked to complete a form before undertaking any photocopying
  • Customers may undertake their own copying after first checking any copyright restrictions, or that the required items are not too fragile to be copied
  • Individual documents should not be removed from registered files or other bundles of papers fastened together. Documents should be marked with a slip of paper and passed to a member of staff for copying
  • The first four photocopies on each visit are free of charge. Charges of 25p per monochrome copy and 55p per colour copy (not available on-site) apply for subsequent copies. All our revenue is donated to ChildLine, one of BT's strategic charity partners
  • We reserve the right to refuse the copying of documents that are oversize or too fragile to be reproduced without risk of damage