Saturday, 13 February 2010

Half a day at TNA

There's a new home page at The (UK) National Archives for use by visitors to the building.

I spent a while browsing in the TNA reference library, and found my way to an impressive Canadian section. Here's a small part.

With all the resources available at TNA without needing a reader card it's no wonder an estimated 90% of people researching there don't use one. Its been a while since my research required one, so when it did I had to get a new one. The registration office is now on the top floor, up two flights of stairs. A driver's license and credit card was all that was needed for identification.

I ordered the document I wanted, with the assistance of a helpful staff member, and then went
for lunch in the cafeteria and checked my email at the cybercafe. There was a slight hiccup with
my order which didn't appear in the delivery box corresponding to my seat as promised. I was impressed by the energy the staff were putting into unloading the documents, but mine didn't come. It turned out some of the information had to be redacted so I received a free colour photocopy rather than viewing the original.

Audrey Collins gave a talk on newspaper archives, one I'd tried to hear in January. Owing to technical difficulties this time it was not recorded so won't become a podcast. However, the good news is that owing to the popularity of the podcasts TNA plans on recording some podcasts specially rather than during a public presentation. That should improve the sound quality. Hopefully they'll also provide the visuals.

Amongst the things I learnt from Audrey were that the Newspaper Library suffered bomb damage
during WW2 which destroyed some holdings from the 1890s; and that they have significant holdings of non-UK newspapers, with the English language papers from Colonial India
being especially useful.

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