The following guidance is based on that issued by the National Association of Civic Officers, with particular reference to the death of a senior national figure, including the Sovereign or a member of the Royal family.
Books of Condolence should be opened on the first working day after the day of death. Depending on anticipated demand, consider whether one or two books should be available. It, or they, should be in an easily accessible place, but quiet enough to enable those signing the books a moment of privacy and quiet reflection whilst doing so.
Consider the setting and what should be provided: e.g. a good-sized table, covered with a suitable cloth, a chair, a clean blotter, a supply of pens and a desk lamp if necessary. If a suitable photograph is available that might be in a frame on the table, or a small flower arrangement.
Paper with a black border and wide left-hand margin, hole-punched to fit in a loose-leaf binder is recommended. Loose-leaf ring binders allow for the pages to be re-ordered, so that if the Mayor / Chairman, Council Leader and others cannot be the first to sign the book, their signatures can nevertheless be on the first page of the bound book. A loose-leaf folder also offers an opportunity to take action if the book is defaced or offensive comments included. Regular checks of the book(s) should be made, so that pages including any questionable comments can be quietly removed, until such time as a decision can be taken on whether or not they should be permanently excluded.
Member towns will probably wish to acquire suitable stationery in advance, so that it is available immediately when required. Suitable loose-leaf pages can be supplied by:-
Barnard and Westwood, 23 Pakenham Street, London, WC1X 0LB
This company can also bind the loose-leaf pages when the book is closed.
Local printers and stationers may be able to supply a similar product and service.