Thursday, 24 September 2009

Changes at The National Archives formally confirmed

The following comes from the National Archives at Kew:

Changes to public services at The National Archives

Following an extensive consultation over the summer, The National Archives announced today a number of changes to its operations and public services.

Having considered the feedback received during the consultation, the changes will now see:

Moving to a five-day week (Tuesday to Saturday), from 4 January 2010, with an extension of opening hours and document ordering times

Charging for use of the public car park, with an annual season ticket available for frequent users (based on vehicle emissions, in keeping with government guidelines)
Changes to copying and microform services, with the aim of simplifying the process for users

Chief executive Natalie Ceeney said: “I would like to thank all those who have taken the time to respond to our consultation, following the announcement we made in June. The feedback we received has informed our final decision, helping us work together to ensure that The National Archives continues to be one of the best in the world despite a challenging financial climate.

“An archive is as much about the present and the future as it is about the past, and these changes will ensure that this organisation is stronger and prepared for the coming years.”

The changes are in response to the pressures of increased demand on The National Archives’ services, and a fixed budget. As part of the changes, The National Archives is conducting a voluntary redundancy exercise, but has managed to do this without losing any specialist posts in the structure, ensuring that the levels of historical records expertise available now to support the public will be maintained. These changes will also enable The National Archives to maintain investment in future services, which include research and cataloguing work to make records more accessible, as well as vital work to ensure that today’s digital records survive to become tomorrow’s history.

In a challenging environment, The National Archives is intent on maintaining high levels of public service, increasing online access to its collection and capturing current government information for future researchers, guaranteeing the continuity of the official government record.

Changes will be implemented over the coming months. To find out more, please go to:

The presentation document states that TNA is seeking 35 voluntary redundancies, but no change to the status or number of expert advisers, contrary to what it says has been circulated misinformation. The number of senior records experts posts is increasing. TNA says it received 27,500 submissions to the consultation, and possibly a red rag to a bull for some, it also states "The e-petition on the Number 10 website had 1,040 signatories by 12 September 2009. This is a similar number to the petition to review policing at the bulldog bash motorcycle rally"!!!

In a veiled response to counter proposals from Action4Archives, it states: "We received a set of counter-proposals on 21 September, which unfortunately would not have enabled us to make the savings we need to make. A detailed response has been sent to the proposer."

In a sign that public concerns over opening hours have been taken on board, TNA has proposed to still close on Mondays, but will extend opening hours on Tuesdays to Saturdays and will not close for stocktaking each December. Limited openings on Monday and Wednesday evenings were considered, but were ruled out on the cost basis.

On car parking, plans have been amended to include free car parking tickets to regular volunteers on key projects. The daily fee for parking will be £5, but there will be annual tickets available.

On BMD indexes - no fiche/films will be removed until the digital surrogates are vetted and approved by TNA experts. Once removed, they will still be available on demand (eg. as in the ScotlandsPeople centre).

A new record copying service is to made available soon - the proposals on this were not challenged by anyone.

On expert staff deployment, a request to keep mapping experts on hand has been agreed to, but other expert services will be ceased Tues and Thurs evenings and made available at busier periods. The Research Enquiries desk will close at 5.00pm.

Monday closures will start 4 JAN 2010.
New opening hours and document production hours from 5 JAN 2010.
Car park charges from April 2010.
Film and fiche removal from early 2010.
Record copying system from end of 2009.

The full list of decisions is available at

Finally, you learn a little every day - TNA's storage overflow facility is based in a salt mine in Cheshire! :)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

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