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Use of the reading room of the Political Archive

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Important information

Use of the reading room of the Political Archive under COVID-19 health and safety regulations as of 19 October 2020

Dear user of the Political Archive,

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we, like many archives in Germany and abroad, had to close the reading room back in spring. We switched to answering your queries in writing and, where possible, by sending out copies of texts. We realise that this service does not really meet your expectations.

We are pleased to offer you a new service: when working from home or when out and about, you now have the option of searching electronically in our finding aids and accessing scanned files (where available) using invenio, a Federal Archives application.

We thank the Federal Archives for allowing us to use the invenio search engine and ordering application. Please note that it is not possible to search in the holdings of more than one archive at a time; if you wish to search in various archives, you will have to register more than once. In some cases it was necessary, for technical or organisational reasons, to allocate new record group designations.

Under the Federal Foreign Office’s current protective measures, visits to the reading room of the Political Archive are only possible in exceptional cases by prior agreement.

An exceptional case might be one where a research query cannot be answered with the aid of already regularly digitised documents (preferred method) but requires you to consult paper files.

The procedure:

  1. The archivist will decide, on the basis of their knowledge of the holdings, whether exceptional approval for a visit can be granted or whether digital copies can be provided in response to your query.
  2. The archivist will inform both you and the reading room if exceptional permission for a personal visit has been granted. In keeping with the existing procedure, the reading room staff will arrange your appointment and allocate your work station. Reservations for mornings (9.00 am – noon) and afternoons (1.00 – 4.00 pm) need to be made separately.
  3. You are required to wear a face mask covering our mouth and nose at all times in the building of the Federal Foreign Office, reading room included.

  4. Disinfectant is available for your use just outside the reading room.
  5. Disposable gloves are provided in the reading room.
  6. You won’t have any access to the archive’s reference library or computer terminals or analog finding aids.
  7. You will therefore need your own laptop/tablet/smartphone to order items.
  8. When you have obtained an exceptional approval to visit the Political Archives to consult paper files you are free to preorder up to 40 files at least three days in advance of your visit.
  9. You can look through 20 files per day when you are in the reading room - thus it is possible for the staff to wait 24hrs before re-shelving the files to lower the risk of contamination.
  10. Files that you have ordered before 12pm will be available for consultation at the reading room the next day.
  11. When you have finished consulting the files, please place them on a trolley.
  12. We cannot offer any personal consultations. A list of the archivists’ phone numbers is available in the consulting room, should you have any questions. Inquiries can also be made by email.

Please note that the regulations may change at short notice in response to the current COVID‑19 Situation. Due to an increased amount of enquires there may be a delay in processing your request. We thank you for your patience and apologize for any inconvenience.

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