07 June 2020

Family historians should expect a 'much different service' when archives reopen later this year

Those are the words of John Chambers, CEO of the UK Archives and Records Association (ARA) speaking to WDYTYA? Magazine.

He cited issues with maintaining social distancing. 

"He said that archives were looking at different ways of providing a service, for instance by introducing an appointment system or digitising documents on demand for researchers at home."

He also expressed concern that "an increased shift to digitised services might exclude older people, who are less likely to be computer literate."

COMMENT:  The same considerations apply in Canada. The situation will be very different for the various archives. Some are spacious with relatively little traffic, in other people are almost on top of each other.

It would be unfortunate if digitization on demand, which worked very well for Australian archival records, was rejected owing to a few who might have technological difficulties if there remained alternate arrangements to accommodate their needs.


Mike More said...

John, perhaps things are a bit different on the other side of the pond but, in Canada, the number of older people who are not computer literate has dropped dramatically in recent years. And the current pandemic has probably encouraged more to get familiar with the Interweb. So I echo your concern about catering to the "illiterates" at the expense of the vast majority.

Teresa said...

While I agree that service from home would be fantastic, let's not forget something called the digital divide. This is a very real thing - I see it as a librarian all the time. Even if you are completely computer literate (regardless of age), you may not be able to afford either a) a home device or b) a home internet connection. With many libraries still closed to the public for in-library services, this is a huge issue.

A combination of both styles of service, with the digital being preferred when at all possible, would be ideal.