Wednesday, 8 July 2009

The National Archives are 'dumbing down'

On July 1st I ran a story about serious changes being proposed at the National Archives at Kew (see Major Changes at TNA), which I ended with the words 'expect this to not go down well'. The Daily Telegraph has today published a story entitled National Archives Under Threat from 'Dumbing Down' Warns Researcher, in which an independent researcher who has worked there for 34 years outlines in a letter her major concerns over the proposals.

Amongst her comments in the letter, researcher Ruth Wilcock states that "The National Archives are in danger of becoming a glorified family history centre," and that "There has been a dumbing down and a loss of specialist staff, whose knowledge of records, invaluable to researchers, cannot easily be replaced".

She adds that "In the current economic climate it is inevitable that some cuts will be necessary, but these should not involve tearing the very heart out of a respected institution, vital to the record of the nation's history."

Mel Hide from TNA has responded with a defence of the proposals in the article, stating “We are committed to retaining expert staff within The National Archives, as expertise is essential to providing a high quality service.”

The archive will be consulting until the public over the proposals until early August, with decisions made in September, to be implemented by early 2010.

Watch this space...

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