Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Being close to the user

Duncan Macniven, Registrar General for Scotland, who was a speaker at the recent BIFHSGO conference, impressed me.

I was not enthusiastic when I first heard that someone with that title was coming to the conference. Over the years I've become accustomed to hear people at top levels in the public service in various countries give presentations full of bureaucratize.

Macniven was refreshingly different. His two presentations were substantive. He actually sat down in the computer consultation room and helped participants one-on-one, something I also understand he had done at the major Homecoming event in Scotland earlier in the year.

When I queried him about access to their records for local history studies, which can be prohibitively costly on the pay-per-view basis of the Scotland's People website, he indicated that GROS were open to making special arrangements on a case-by-case basis. He pointed to a case with the University of Guelph where such an arrangement is in place.

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