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.
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.
Update - Adelaide office closure