Consultation about North Yorkshire Archives

  • Posted On: 22 April 2018

Kirsty sent me news of the consultation about North Yorkshire Record Office. I urge members, especially those of us who use and love archives, to respond to this. The online survey is here.

Being a Grade A cynic, however, this made me jittery. As a North Yorks resident, I am suspicious of NYCC proposals, as they usually turn out to be money-saving ruses. What's more, NYRO had a very sorry history before Keith Sweetmore rode to the rescue as a modernising county archivist. The previous regime actually denied access to any documents at all, insisting that everything had to be viewed on microfilm. This ruling applied even to tithe maps: the huge plan had to be viewed on one machine, the apportionment on another, these machines not necessarily close to each other, and the quality of reproduction awful. NYRO became a byword for how not to run an archive, and researchers avoided the place like the plague. It was common to hear of projects which had been re-designed to avoid using NYRO. Perhaps the old archivist enjoyed a quiet life as a result, though doubtless interrupted by furious complaints from clients who thought that maybe record offices were there to serve the public, and that actually it's important to have access to the original documents.

Apologies for the rant, which I should emphasise is my own view and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of YAHS.... I have completed the survey. (I didn't hold back!). But I really, really, do hope to be pleasantly surprised, and that this is another positive turning point for NYRO, which has done sterling work in recent years, especially in engaging with volunteers and communities. 

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