Wednesday, 9 September 2009

TNA consultation to end September 12th

The National Archives at Kew recently announced a series of changes to its services, including several job losses (and the loss of expertise), the introduction of car parking charges and the closure of premises to the public on Mondays, in an effort to make savings. A consultation period was implemented for the public to make their views known on the changes - this is due to end on September 12th. TNA's proposals, and details on how to contribute to the consultation, can be viewed at

Following TNA's announcement in early July, a campaign was set up by medieval historian and broadcaster Nick Barratt, challenging many of the claims made by TNA with regard to the justification behind the savings initiatives identified by the body. Nick has set up the Action4Archives campaign at, with the site including an open letter to the institution to ask for answers to eight specific concerns.

Reaction has been fairly split between those who recognise that in this times of recession there is a necessity for some change, particularly after the growth in accessibility to records over the last few years, and those who think that the savings plans have not been properly thought through, and in fact, have already been signed off.

Meanwhile, up here in the land of haggis and hairy Highlander dolls, does this actually affect us? TNA may fall into second place behind the National Archives of Scotland when it comes to useful resources for Scottish research, but nevertheless it does hold a great deal of material that is still of immense relevance to us north of the border, perhaps most notably with its military records collections. (A useful podcast of an hour long lecture by Audrey Collins on the archive's Scottish holdings is available at So whilst car parking charges and Monday closures may not be of immediate relevance to most of us, who perhaps visit London as often as we visit Australia, many of the changes could potentially affect us equally in our research endeavours.

Whichever side of the debate you are on - whether you support TNA in its proposals or disagree with the body - you have until Saturday to make your views known!

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