The National Archives makes changes for ordering documents



The National Archives
The National Archives, Kew, U.K.

In the UK The National Archives (TNA) in Kew have announced changes to the ordering of documents and some people are not happy from a look at comments being made on Twitter!

Researchers that need to travel long distances to get to TNA seem to be worried by this trial as it will see the restrictions placed on the number of documents they can order. This, they say, will hinder their useful time spent dong research. The argument is that if a researcher is ordering documents on spec, not knowing if they are going to be useful until they have been delivered to the reading room and the researcher has been able to glance through them, then the restriction reduces the number of alternative documents that they can then order in that day. The reduction to twelve documents a day, plus twelve in advance, is not something that they welcome.


Collect your document from the locker assigned to your seat in the reading room
Collect your document from the locker assigned to your seat in the reading room


Here is the first part of the news item as posted on The National Archives website:


From Tuesday 31 March 2020, as part of a six-month trial, 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. The new document ordering and delivery times are listed below:

Document ordering slots Earliest availability in reading rooms
09:45–10:30 11:00–11:15
11:00–11:45 12:15–12:30
12:15–13:00 13:30–13:45
13:30–14:15 14:45–15:00
14:45–15:30 16:00–16:15

In order to facilitate these changes, same-day document ordering will start at 09:45 and finish at 15:30 each day. Advance ordering for the next day will also close at 15:30. Reading room opening times will be unaffected.

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. The proposed changes will give us the opportunity to supply documents to readers within dedicated delivery time slots throughout the day. This will allow us to maintain the collection appropriately so that we can ensure its preservation for future generations of researchers. We will be trialling these changes for six months from the end of March, during which time we will closely monitor reader usage and seek feedback from readers.

The majority of our readers already request records in advance of a visit in order to make the most of their day. If you are not already a user of the advance and bulk order services you can find details on our website on the how to order documents page. We have included a comparison breakdown of the changes overleaf.


They do, however, point out that their Bulk Ordering is not affected.


Read the full announcement on The National Archives’ website:

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