National Archives - Kew Tips?

Discussion in 'Research Material' started by von Poop, Oct 2, 2008.

  1. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    That’s a great way to improve service to the public. :rolleyes: I wonder what the ‘slots’ will be? 9:30, 9:35, 9:40, 9:45, 9:50?

    Perhaps they are having to divert resources to setting out the dinner service on the table on floor one; it was set out every day last week. :banghead:
  2. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    The argument on that page is that the 'average' reader views eight documents per day--and that their generosity overfloweth in granting access to three times the average number requested.

    To my suspicious mind, they're trying to squeeze out those who offer paid file-copying services.

    I'm inured to the fact that virtually every change in policy for every British public body will now be for the worse. It usually amounts to increasing revenue and reducing expenditure by cutting staff, facilities and the services offered while raising charges on the public and introducing novel charges for what was previously free.

    The National Archives is a public institution established (from other such bodies) and maintained by public taxation to preserve and provide public access to files mostly created by institutions that were themselves established and maintained by public taxation. I personally feel as if the public has contributed enough to this costly merry-go-round.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
  3. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Don't knock it - the British Library limit is around 10 docs per day in total
    JimHerriot likes this.
  4. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    I can only sensibly do 6-8 files myself on any one day. This keeps the weeding out and filing back at home afterwards to a minimum. However, as CF suggests, this could seriously hamper our copying services on this forum.
    JimHerriot likes this.
  5. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    To me it is seems just to be a squeeze on resources. Fewer files ordered at reduced times = fewer staff required.
  6. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    And I would add, such changes always seem to be preceded by a phrase such as "We are improving our services by..........."

  7. idler

    idler GeneralList

    The real arseache is not being able to guarantee a productive day after travelling in from the shires, especially when your files turn out to be one-page wonders or fail to fulfil the promise of their title.
    Chris C and Rich Payne like this.
  8. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Is the maximum effectively 24 per day then ? It would still be worthwhile for me to visit for that number but as Idler says, in many cases the files are not what was hoped for and go straight back. I've done that a lot with Ministry of Supply stuff which is horribly badly catalogued.
    Old Git likes this.
  9. AndyBaldEagle

    AndyBaldEagle Very Senior Member

    I am interested in what happens to those who put in a bulk order of 40 documents and complete copying them in say 2 hours, as I did on my last visit, and then managed to get a further 24 + copied and still had 2 or more hours to kill as I couldn’t order any more documents. Will I be limited to just the bulk order? I travel from the east coast of Essex by train/tube and get to to TNA for 9am to make the most of my day ( normally Tuesday or Thursday) and don’t get home much before 10pm, having been up since 0430!! This experiment is to reduce costs further as staff numbers have definitely reduced in the last 2 years. Not impressed
    JimHerriot, dml34 and bamboo43 like this.
  10. idler

    idler GeneralList

    They might save some money on the parking...
    AndyBaldEagle likes this.
  11. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    You must have fastest finger in Essex Andy. Hats off to your skill and stamina.
    JimHerriot and Chris C like this.
  12. AndyBaldEagle

    AndyBaldEagle Very Senior Member

    They were the WO416 series so not very bulky at all!!
  13. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Still, quite an effort and achievement. :salut:
  14. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    The impact of this very much depends on the number of files one would access on a (long) day. When I go to Kew from West Wales I am there for the whole day and try to copy as much as possible and unlike Bamboo43 I don't sort or file until I get home. Most of the War Diaries I access are not thin files so 24 should be enough. But I am deeply suspicious that this will be of benefit to the user at all.
  15. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Combined with other recent reductions in ordering hours, bulk order reduction and increased travelling costs, this is very much an issue. A lot of my copying orders are for very small files 1 to 30 pages and this is a particular problem in that regard.

    The forlorn hope was something would be done to allow increased access to records but the trend is clearly in the opposite direction.

    Minutes of User Group meeting show the ultimate intention is to only allow advance orders and no document ordering on the day.

  16. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    The ( unapproved ) minutes of the User Advisory Group meeting held in the Swan Room on Tuesday 3rd December 2019 which Lee refers to can be found here:

    Six delegates ( representatives of users ) attended, seven sent apologies.

    Kew should have long opening hours at weekends, ( open all Saturday night, close at 9 on Sunday ) with visitors from afar encouraged to bring sleeping bags. There is plenty of room, now that a lot of the desks have been removed.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2020
  17. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    How depressing. There is something in all this that reminds me of the old story of the regimental QM, who in reply to a young officer asking for some bit of kit told him that if he was supposed to dish out stuff to one and all his empire would be called the QM’s Issues not Stores.
  18. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Actually came across that in real life in a national oil company in the ME when production from one field was temporarily halted because of the failure of a vital unit in the pipeline distribution centre. A spare unit was available but the storeman refused to issue it because it would take his holding down below the minimum level.
  19. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Classic jobsworth!
  20. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    Why not charge a flat fee of say £5 for every file copied which has between 1 and 50 pages in it. Any files with more than 50 pages charge at 10p per page.

    That way smaller sized files should be worth the time and travel invested. I doubt those who use this most valuable service would begrudge this.

    And unless you have a file with just 4 pages in it, it still works out much cheaper than getting Kew to do it.

    Just a thought


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