Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are Archives?

Webster's dictionary defines "Archive(s)" as "a place in which public records or historical documents are preserved" and "the material preserved." Thus, Archives can refer to archival material as well as the institution that preserves and makes the material accessible. A more formal definition of archival material is "recorded information made or received in the course of the conduct of affairs and preserved." In other words, during the conduct of business and other activity, a paper trail remains to give evidence of what went on before - it documents what happened and why.

Q: Who can use the Archives?

The Archives is open to all members of the public. Examples of Archives visitors are: environmental consultants, real estate companies, surveyors, artists, students of all ages, historians, museum curators, and teachers.

Q: Can archival material be loaned out?

Sorry, original material must only be used in the Archives reference room. Archives are, by definition unique. If they are lost, they cannot be replaced. However, through public outreach programs, such as this web site, archival material can be made widely available without risk to the originals.

Q: What kind of materials can be found at the Richmond Archives?

Most of the holdings at the Richmond Archives are in paper format, and there are also large numbers of photographs, maps, and architectural drawings. Holdings include a few sound recordings and moving images.

Q: What does an archivist do?

An archivist is described in dictionaries as a "keeper of records," a person who collects notable documents and preserves them for the future.  In modern times archivists are often linked with other large scale information specialists such as librarians and records managers.  At Richmond the archivist can provide information about the holdings and assist researchers in finding the appropriate archives resources for their particular study topics. To learn more about the work of archivists visit the website of the Association of Canadian Archivists.