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Using the archives

What to expect

The Oxford County Archives welcomes all visitors who are interested in using our research facilities. There are some rules our staff, volunteers and visitors must follow in order to meet archival standards and to ensure the safekeeping of our records. We want to make your visit to the archives as positive as possible; please read through these guidelines to using the archives prior to your visit so you know what to expect when you arrive.

Requesting records

It is highly recommended that researchers contact the archives to book an appointment prior to their visit. Not only does this provide staff with time to research your topic thoroughly, it also avoids disappointment for the researcher who may find that the records they were hoping to see are not located at the archives or are inaccessible. Occasionally, some records at the archives cannot be accessed by the public. The two most common reasons for this include:

  • Privacy legislation - Access to our archival records is dictated by the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA). MFIPPA provides individuals the right to access municipal records while also protecting the personal privacy. Certain information and records such as birth, marriage and death certificates, health information, property assessments and closed council meeting minutes can only be accessed after a specified date, usually a set number of years after the record’s creation or an individual’s death. Archives staff are knowledgeable on this subject matter and will inform researchers whether or not the record they are requesting is publicly accessible.
  • Record condition - While our archivists work to preserve and protect the archival holdings, records occasionally deteriorate over time or arrived to the archives in poor condition. If a record is too fragile to handle, an archivist may restrict access to that record. If the record has been digitized researchers may access the digital copy instead of the original.

Handling records

Our archivists act as stewards in the safekeeping of Oxford County’s historical records. There are a set of standards that guide how we manage, store and handle our archival collection. We ask that our volunteers and visitors keep these guidelines in mind when handling records:

Archives reference Room


Copyright

Many of the records at the archives are subject to copyright. Depending on the record, copyright may be owned by the Oxford County Archives, the creator of the record or another organization, institution or corporation.

If you intend to make a copy, publish a copy of a record or information found within a record please speak with archives staff to ensure that you are adhering to copyright law. Archives staff can also provide you with information on how to cite your sources.

  • Handle our records carefully - We ask that all visitors treat our records with respect and handle them with care. If a document seems too fragile to handle, please speak with archives staff for assistance.
  • Wear gloves when necessary - Some records require the handler to wear archival gloves. These gloves will be provided to you by archives staff, we ask that you keep them on at all times when handling a record unless specified otherwise. If you are handling records with bare hands, please make sure your hands are clean! We also advise our researchers to remove any jewelry that may cause damage to documents.

  • Use a pencil - Most archives require that only pencils be used within research areas and around archival records. This is a precaution taken to avoid ink stains transferring onto records. We have plenty of pencils to share with our visitors.
  • Keep food and drink away from records - We understand that research can sometimes take several hours or an entire day. We invite our visitors to bring a lunch; however, no food or drink is allowed in our research library. The Archives has a conference room with seating that is designated for lunch breaks.