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FAQs: National Archive

Do I have to pay an entry fee to enter the Archives reading room?
No, use of the reading room and our resources is open to the general public free of charge. We do require every user to register as a reader, at which time presentation of identification may be required. Certain fees do apply for copying, reproduction and publication.
What sorts of records is the Archive interested in acquiring?
The Archive holds all sorts of historical records relating to the Cayman Islands, in many different media, including government records and private donations. Government records normally come to the Archive by means of the records management programme, while private papers are donated by individuals and businesses on an ongoing basis. Our acquisition mandate allows for a wide scope of materials to be included in the Archive"s collections. Each potential donation will undergo an archival appraisal in order to see how it might complement our present holdings, and how it might benefit future researchers. Feel free to contact the Archive if you are aware of any historical documents, photographs, maps, posters, etc. which you believe deserve to be preserved.
Can I see all records the Archive holds?
No, certain access restrictions do apply, in two ways: on the one hand there are certain time-limited restrictions that apply to specific records, such as the blanket 30-year rule which applies to most government records, or the 100-year rule which applies to census return forms. On the other hand, certain records may be closed for conservation reasons. If a record has become too fragile to be handled by the general public, we will make an effort to provide a microfiche copy instead. Both of these types of restrictions may apply equally to government records and private donations.
Is the Archives reading room open on Saturdays?
No, unfortunately, we are not open on Saturdays. It would take the presence of several staff members to ensure the safety of the building and its collections, and our present resources do not allow this.
How does the Archives reading room process work? What do I have to do to gain access to your historical resources?
The first thing every visitor does when entering the Archive building, is signing in into our guest book. When you use the reading room for the first time, you will have to register as a reader. This involves completing a form with your personal data and signing it. A copy of the rules of the reading room is available for your information. You will receive a reader"s ticket in return, for future use. Then you will be left in the capable hands of one of our reference archivists on duty, who are available as long as the reading room is open (9:00 am. to 4:30 pm., including lunch time) to assist you with finding the right sources for your research (not to do your research, see question 7 below). Many of our records have been described on databases which the reference archivist will consult on your behalf to find pertinent sources Finding aids to many other records have not yet been automated, and you may have to look through catalogues, inventories, lists, etc. in order to find the records you are interested in. Be prepared to schedule sufficient time to do your research, and do not wait until the last possible moment to visit the reading room with your questions.
Can I borrow books from the Archive?
Definitely not. Besides our comprehensive archival collections, the Archive houses the collections of the Cayman Islands National Library, consisting of thousands of published titles dealing with Caymanian and Caribbean history, geography, sociology, economy, and many other topics of research. These are open for consultation by the general public. However, since many of the books and serials in our collections are rare or unique, we do not allow any of our resources out of the building. Reproduction services are available for a fee.
What do you mean by "CINA Staff are not authorised to conduct research on the researcher"s behalf"?
Archival sources are used for many different purposes, and readers approach our original materials from a huge variety of research angles, not all of which Archive staff may be familiar with. Once the reader is in the reading room and has become aware of our many sources, a simple question often transforms into a very complex, detailed or extensive quest for information. Under these circumstances the reference archivist on duty can provide the reader with sources, but ought not to be part of the interpretation of these sources. Therefore, when you visit the reading room, you should schedule sufficient time to do your research. It may be a good idea to make a preliminary visit in order to find out exactly which sources are available.