The City Archives provides a reference service to the public. Records more than 30 years old can be made available to the public for research in the Archives’ Search Room. Requests for access to records less than 30 years old are generally referred to the appropriate Council Divisional General Manager, or may be accessed via a Freedom of Information application. Access to records in poor physical condition may be delayed until such time as conservation work can be carried out.
As well as assisting researchers identify relevant records, Archives staff prepare 'finding aids' such as guides, inventories and indexes, which facilitate access to archives. Some records are available immediately on microfilm or on open access in the Reference and Guide Area. Records may also be searched for electronically, either online or using the computer in the Archives' Search Room. About 40% of the Archives' total holdings are currently entered into the electronic database.
Most records will need to be retrieved from the Archives’ repository and ‘cleared’ for access before they can be made available. It is advisable to allow at least a day between requesting and receiving records for research.
How to find information
An archive is slightly different from a library or a museum. There’s no instant access to information - you’ll need to rely on other means known as finding aids to find the right records. These are in effect the tools that provide access to archival material. They enable you to identify which records are going to be most useful for your research.
You may need to discuss your research project with an Archivist who can advise which records to look at. Lists of relevant records (known as source analyses) can be prepared in response to detailed enquiries; pre-prepared lists already exist for some subjects about which the City Archives commonly receives enquiries. Research enquiries may be made in person, by letter, fax, e-mail or telephone. Group visits and small tours of the Archives can usually be accommodated by prior arrangement.
Copying of paper based records can be carried out by Archives’ staff, provided the original item is in good condition. For small quantities this can generally be done more or less immediately, larger quantities within a day or two. Copies of Building Plans and photographs can also be arranged.
Please note that items in poor physical condition cannot be copied until they have received proper conservation treatment.
Archival material is subject to the Copyright Act, 1968. Where copyright ownership is not vested in the Corporation it will be necessary for researchers to obtain the written permission of the copyright owner. Ask the Archivist if you have any queries about copying or copyright matters.
The term Preservation Management encompasses many different aspects of caring for a collection. To ensure that the City’s past is kept safe for future generations, it is crucial that the Archive’s Team adopt a holistic approach to managing the Council's archival collections.
The Archives’ preservation management strategy includes conservation treatments, integrated pest management, strict environmental controls, disaster preparedness, safe handling procedures and an electronic records management system.
Preservation of the Council’s archives and Civic Collection is the Archives Team’s prime responsibility. These collections encompass a diverse range of materials. They include textual records, photographs, maps, architectural plans, audiovisual media, sculptures, works of art and artifacts. The potential hazards to these materials are many and varied and require continued monitoring and maintenance.
Conservation treatments are one of the most distinctive features in this comprehensive preservation strategy. The specialized conservation treatments are carried out in the Archives’ purpose built conservation laboratory. The City of Adelaide employs a Conservator who is trained in the theory and specialized practice of materials conservation.
Counter/telephone enquiries: 9am–5pm, Monday to Friday
Search Room (open for research): 10am–4pm, Tuesday to Thursday
Appointments are recommended on Search Room open days.
Phone: (08) 8203 7439
Fax: (08) 8203 7336
Location: Topham Mall, Off 55 Currie & 56 Waymouth St, Adelaide
Postal Address: City of Adelaide Archives, GPO Box 2252, Adelaide SA 5001