Monday, 6 July 2009

Details on proposed changes at TNA

I previously posted about the headline changes proposed for The UK National Archives, not opening to the public on Mondays and charging for parking. Further information is available on background to these and other proposed service changes.

TNA explain that "the proposals are part of the organisation's plan to reduce running costs by 10 per cent by 2010 and to improve energy usage." They state that "The amount of money that we need to save to remain financially viable is a fact, not a proposal." It isn't evident why its a fact. Is there less revenue expected from government?

The figure given for saving that need to be achieved is £4.2 million, which suggests the TNA total budget is £42 million, or $80 million Cdn.

Some of the other service reductions proposed are: remove selected large microfilm and microfiche records series from the reading rooms; streamline copying services with the introduction of a new online request service ( no longer operating Digital Express and estimating services); not providing expert staff between 17:00 and 19:00.

Other reductions that might be noticeable are mowing the lawn less often and not cleaning the windows as frequently.

Improving online services is also part of the plan including: developing the online catalogue; continuing digitisation projects, launching innovative online help and expertise.

There is a series of Q/As here with more information, and hints at some long-term objectives.

Those of us who mostly use TNA from a distance have, or are supposed to have, the opportunity to comment by email. "Supposed to" is more appropriate as my emails to the address on Saturday and Sunday bounced back as undeliverable.

One of my queries followed up on the web site statement that 170 times more "documents" are produced online than physically at Kew. It would be helpful to know what fraction of the online documents are produced to on-site terminals at Kew? Reductions in the hours of operation at Kew will have an impact on those online users. If it's substantive the effect will be to move users who would have received the service free at Kew to the costly Documents Online remote service. That's setting foot on the slippery slope to charging for all access.

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