THE newly-refurbished Explore York Library and Archive opens today following a £2 million pound revamp.

The building has been closed for seven months while work took place, with the majority of funding provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Gateway to History Project, and just over half a million pounds from City of York Council.

Changes include a state-of-the-art store and reading room for the archives, a refurbished Local History library and Family History centre, and repairs and conservation to the original parquet floor and slate roof, new heating and new toilets.

Victoria Hoyle, City Archivist said: "This is a fabulous new beginning for the Archives. The grant from the HLF and ongoing support from the Council have allowed us to create these new facilities, which give us the capacity to vastly increase the number of people who can discover and enjoy York’s history while also preserving the collections for future generations."

The archive includes historic documents such as the city’s first charter from 1155, and its letter of condolence after the death of Richard III, and there is now also more room for visitors.

Councillor Sonja Crisp, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism, said the archive now had "the city centre home that it deserves".

She said: "It makes such a difference! The modern store holds a mile and a half of historic documents in a precisely controlled climate on electronic shelving. The documents have been catalogued, packed into acid free boxes or tissue and relabelled to make them easier to find and use."

More than 6,000 books and maps on the history of York have been catalogued and can be browsed online, and family historians will have easier access to microfilms of The Press, burial registers and workhouse records, with touch-screen technology allowing results to be saved to memory sticks.

The Local History library and Family History centre will be open seven days a week at the same times as the library, and original documents can be viewed Monday to Wednesday between 9.30am and 5pm, and Saturday between 9.30am and 4.30pm.

Work is still ongoing to catalogue and preserve the material in the archives - which take up 300 cubic metres - but details on what is currently available can be found at