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Proformat News
No: 48a
February 2010
National Archives Protest

The small group of protesters gathered outside the Adelaide Office of the National Archives [NAA] on Tuesday 23 Feb 2010 typified the problems of the campaign to prevent the closure of this office and those in Hobart and Darwin. The number of concerned people are just not significant to worry any politician looking to be re-elected.

The only media present was a crew from the ABC's 7:30 Report. It was particularly disappointing to see no one from the SA Genealogy & Heraldry Society [SAGHS] Council or staff make an appearance. The Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations [AFFHO] President was in attendance. The President of the Friends of SA's Archives was also present.

The group was somewhat mollified with a media release form the Minister headed, Rudd Government listens on National Archives. The paper says that greater efforts will be made to establish a co-location with a similar repository. Of course this has been canvassed before and previously failed.

Some of the protestors wanted to celebrate rather than protest, but one has to be a little wary of any unfulfilled promise by a politician. Before I crack open a celebratory drink, I want something rather more concrete than a media release in place. The cynic in me just wonders how this all came about on the eve of a protest outside the offices to be closed

The media release has at least two let out clauses, easily missed in the euphoria of the news.

Kate Ellis, the Member for Adelaide says that, instead of closing the Adelaide office, the Government will work to co-locate with similar institutions. We know this has already been canvassed before and negotiations have come to naught.

The State Library is clearly in deep trouble itself. The beautiful heritage Mortlock wing has been cleared of books and displays in a rebadging as a function centre for weddings and corporate flings to be managed by an out of state company, Epicure. The books that lined the shelves here and elsewhere in the library have been disposed of. Admittedly many were nothing more than shelf fillers to make the library look more library-like, but to send them all off to be pulped rather than have a second-hand book sale is rather sad.

State Records is bursting at the seams and cannot accommodate many more records. Indeed, their management was rather hoping to co-locate with the National Archives, but I suspect with the hope that such a decision would open up a floodgate of cash. Seems rather unlikely when it is the NAA's objective to save funds!

Senator Ludwig's contribution to the media release still indicates that he is yet to understand the significance of collections of records in their original format. He is still trumpeting digitisation. His claim that more and more people are using the Internet is indeed correct. What he fails to recognise is that usage does not necessarily equate to satisfactory research results. I may have looked at dozens of records on the NAA web site and found nothing due to the limitations of this type of research. Are my dozens of searches counted in his reported 1.9M records accessed as 12 or zero?

I do not want to be completely negative about the news and so let's hope that the new initiative bears fruit.

In this issue:
Update - Adelaide office closure
Feature article


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