National Archives Document Ordering Limits AKA: fuckwittery abounds!

I just got the following email from the National Archives at Kew:

From Monday 31 March 2020, readers will be able to order a maximum of 12 documents for the same day, plus up to 12 documents ordered in advance (a maximum of 24 documents per reader per day). There will be five document ordering slots available each day and you can order as many of your 12 same-day documents as you require in any of the slots.

This means that if you have prepared your references you will be able to order 12 documents at the same time. Documents will be delivered at set times each day. You will not need to finish your advance orders before ordering documents for the same day.
They give a link to more details here:

You F'king what? Just 24 documents a day? I have a two hour drive to get down to Kew. So I order a large amount, quickly photograph them all, in rapid succession. Then I can can read them at my leisure. This means I can get through a lot of documents. Especially if the page count is low. Kew's catalogue gives you no idea of what you're getting in regards to page count or contents of the documents. So if you put in for your three documents, and they all turn out to be three pages long, you're screwed until the next batch shows up. Now I have to wait for the next ordering slot?
Equally some of my colleagues give me documents they're interested in to obtain. Does that count agaisnt my total? Sure seems to.

Yay, lets make life harder for historians to access our history! What a cracking idea!
 
Ssshhhhh.......

information is to be hoarded jealously. You can’t let any Tom, Dick or David have access to real history! The proles might learn real stuff for gods sake!
 

Chef

LE
'If it ain't broke; change it.' has been the watchword of admin types since the first Linear A forms were drying in the Minoan sun.

At least you have a little time to get as much photographed in advance. If it were down to me I'd have had it announced in the public notices of the Scunthorpe Gazette in the last week of February.

But then I worked for both the council and Ministry of egg and fish, plus I was a storeman. :cool:
 
'If it ain't broke; change it.' has been the watchword of admin types since the first Linear A forms were drying in the Minoan sun.

At least you have a little time to get as much photographed in advance. If it were down to me I'd have had it announced in the public notices of the Scunthorpe Gazette in the last week of February.

But then I worked for both the council and Ministry of egg and fish, plus I was a storeman. :cool:
Oh I suspect I know what's behind this stupidity. Economy and streamlining. Means they can use a staff member or two less. Before hand you'd place an order, it'd get sent off and then about 40 mins your docs would be shipped up to the room. Now I suspect they've got a more efficient set up for the pickers down in the stacks.

Most of the staff are brilliant Lakshmi (spelling?) over at the repographics desk is brilliant.

However, there is no excuse for the stupidity of 12 doc limit. That is just inexcusable. I suspect the reason why is the type of people. Speaking to archivists at other collections, what I do is not that common. they're used to people who will show up, read two documents for the entire day, then never be seen again. Then there's the lunatics like me who have to submit spreadsheets with lists of which boxes we want.
 
thats better, persec please! This is history, you know that stuff that needs to be protected.
I thought history was to be rewritten to meet modern sensibilities.
 

Just_plain_you

War Hero
Who know what sort of ghastly colonial misdemeanours could turn up in those records and cause offence to people who have never read them?
 

Chef

LE
Oh I suspect I know what's behind this stupidity. Economy and streamlining.
You'd like to think so but many of the changes I saw in both local and ministry offices were anything but.

The restriction on docs is probably due to someone guesstimating how many docs one person might want. In much the same way that the amount of money one could take out of the UK for holidays was restricted to £50 based on some minister's guess.
 
I just got the following email from the National Archives at Kew:



They give a link to more details here:

You F'king what? Just 24 documents a day? I have a two hour drive to get down to Kew. So I order a large amount, quickly photograph them all, in rapid succession. Then I can can read them at my leisure. This means I can get through a lot of documents. Especially if the page count is low. Kew's catalogue gives you no idea of what you're getting in regards to page count or contents of the documents. So if you put in for your three documents, and they all turn out to be three pages long, you're screwed until the next batch shows up. Now I have to wait for the next ordering slot?
Equally some of my colleagues give me documents they're interested in to obtain. Does that count agaisnt my total? Sure seems to.

Yay, lets make life harder for historians to access our history! What a cracking idea!
First world problems eh?
 
You'd like to think so but many of the changes I saw in both local and ministry offices were anything but.

The restriction on docs is probably due to someone guesstimating how many docs one person might want. In much the same way that the amount of money one could take out of the UK for holidays was restricted to £50 based on some minister's guess.
Well the above link says:
To prepare for these changes, we have looked closely at the average number of documents viewed by each reader per day (currently around eight documents each), and have identified new parameters to ensure that readers who plan their visit can conduct their research efficiently in the reading rooms.
Bare in mind almost every time you're down there you'll see gaggles of what look suspiciously like Chinese tourists in the reading room. These are likely just ordering one or two documents then pissing off. Equally you get the people mentioned above, who are poking historical research with a very long stick and say looking at their own family history, and thus just checking out one or two documents. These are going to upset the average.

First world problems eh?
Well there's a couple of blokes down there whom I suspect are now, or soon will be, unemployed. I would have been if I had gone with the researcher route for a big company a year ago.
 

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