Saturday, 23 November 2013

Is thekeep.info a keeper?

Sussex has a new archives. The Keep is a new physical facility for archives that opens up access to all the collections of the East Sussex Record Office (ESRO), the Royal Pavilion & Museums Local History Collections and the internationally significant University of Sussex Special Collections.
An associated website at thekeep.info is in development. Only a first version is presently available. They asked for feedback, so I asked BIFHSGO colleague, Christine Jackson, an experienced Sussex researcher, to take a look. She reported:
I tried the new Keep website on 21 November, two days after The Keep archive centre opened to the public, and spent about 30 minutes browsing - specifically trying to find two things on which I have previously wanted information from the East Sussex Records Office (ESRO).  
I failed to find information on the two items for which I was searching, namely, the list of the parish registers which are available at the ESRO, and information regarding pre-1858 wills from East Sussex - and was not at all impressed with the website. Fortunately the East Sussex County Council website still has the old ESRO pages up and I easily found what I was seeking amongst a list of several guides and lists for people wishing to use ESRO's collections.
I found the introductory pages of thekeep.info far too wordy, and was put off by the Search box which obscures the headings to each of the pages - presumably a design issue. I found some basic information was missing (left blank), namely, the cost of parking and whether or not the parking spots for disabled visitors can be reserved in advance. When I did locate a section in the ‘Doing family history’ segment of the site regarding available pre-1837 sources, it included limited information about only parish registers, the baptism index and burial index. 

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