Crisis at the National Archives?

By Daniel Cossins, 8 July 2009 - 10:25am

News of serious problems at the National Archives (TNA) has emerged in the past ten days.

Unless something can be done, TNA will be closing to the public on Mondays, imposing car-parking charges (which is probably fair enough), greatly reducing the specialist services available to users, and making substantial numbers of staff redundant.

Over the past few years TNA has single-mindedly pursued the policy of digitising records – some of us would say to the point of obsession – and the great beneficiaries of this have been family historians who can access material on-line (though of course at a far from insignificant cost).

Other groups who make use of our superb national archives, including local historians, are clearly being disadvantaged by this increasingly unbalanced policy.

I’ve nothing against family historians – quite the opposite – but TNA is seemingly abdicating its broader responsibilities to the whole spectrum of users.

And it looks very much as if senior management is also presiding over a budget crisis of major proportions.

The bland press statements and spin on the TNA website surely do not tell us the underlying story – so I wonder what exactly is going on inside the workings of this great institution?

Alan Crosby is editor of The Local Historian

Agree? Disagree? Add your comments below, or read another view from Else Churchill, Genealogy Officer at the Society of Genealogists. Read more from Alan here.

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