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Sun, 1st Nov 2009
FYI, this story is more than a year old

It is important to keep informed about what is happening with access to archives, especially if you’re planning to visit the UK, but it’s equally important if you have a need to access archives in any way – be it by arm-twisting (your child is there on their OE!) or paying a researcher. Yes, more and more may be available online, but what you need may not be there now, soon, or ever. So here’s some information to help if you’re going to be in the UK anytime soon.

The National Archives (TNA), in Kew, London, England has new opening hours: 9-5 Wed, Fri, Sat and 9-7 Tue & Thu (now closed on Mondays). £5 per day car park charge (volunteers will have free parking). Many microfilms will only be available on request, otherwise access will be by commercial (free to use there) indexes and images. There will be a reduction in record experts and the time they are available. A new streamlined online record copying service will be introduced in late 2009/early 2010. Further information can be found at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/changes Having just visted TNA in Kew, I was impressed by the number of people using the resources and the number of staff available to help. Worth a visit is action4archives.com – read what historians, academics, researchers and regular users of archives are saying about the challenges facing archives in the UK.

PRONI (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland) will be closed from November 23rd till December 11th 2009, to allow staff to prepare ahead of the move to the new building in Titanic Quarter, Belfast. There have already been closures to access of some records, and a further nine months’ closure is planned from September 2010 till May 2011. On the action4archives site, Robert Williams asks for support to have this decision reversed. “It will affect so many people in so many different ways, including genealogists, overseas visitors, students, writers, solicitors, the list is endless. Please send a protesting email to the Minister Nelson McCausland at dcal@dcalni.gov.uk and to the Director at proni@dcalni.gov.uk”. To see what the new quarters will be like, go to www.proni.gov.uk Under ‘About PRONI/Who are we’, scroll down to New Accommodation project.

PRONI has just released, online, Street Directories (streetdirectories.proni.gov.uk, roughly 1819-1900). Check their other databases too. If you’re planning a visit, or to use the Web site, print out the relevant Information Leaflets. Click on ‘Guides & Leaflets’ on the right-hand side.

Both the Society of Genealogists in London (www.sog.org.uk) and the Society of Australian Genealogists (www.sag.org.au) in Sydney have added a Friday closure to their existing Monday closures. The New Zealand Society of Genealogists (www.genealogy.org.nz) has retained its Tuesday closure.