New blog (and pilot ‘live chat’ scheme) at the UK National Archives site
The UK National Archives has just launched a blog, to which people from various departments will contribute posts not just about their own work, but about ‘the wider archives sector’.
Here’s hoping it’ll be a success. So far there’s not a great deal of content, but it’s clear that they’re genuinely keen to engage with users and encourage interaction (though as Chief Executive and Keeper Oliver Morley was forced to explain when a passing researcher tried to hijack the comments thread of the very first post, they won’t be answering individual family history queries on the blog).
Today’s post mentioned that they’re piloting a live chat service for users this week. Records specialists and reader advisers were online for two hours today (wonder how it went?) and will be doing another shift tomorrow afternoon, then a final one on Friday morning. Full details and times can be found here. If all goes well, the service will eventually become a regular part of what TNA offers.
It’ll be interesting to compare the developing TNA blog with the eleven US National Archives blogs. I don’t use the latter much, myself: there are just so many of them that I’ve never quite found the time to sit and work out what they all do. The names don’t really help: how can one guess what the real difference will be between the ‘Blog of the Archivist of the United States’ and the ‘Blog of the US National Archives’? You’d have to spend a little while on each to work it out. Same goes for the ‘Blog of the National Declassification Center’ versus the ‘Blog of the Public Interest Declassification Board’. It’s all a bit much if you’re pressed for time, and the slightly admonitory tone of the homepage seems likely to put some users off, too (‘We encourage your input, but please be aware of our policies concerning comments on our blogs’).
By contrast, the TNA blog has no clear comments policy up so far (though they may have to put one up soon, if people don’t stop wandering onto threads asking for help with their own research. Why do some family historians seem to do this in the most inappropriate places?) and they’ve given it a much more casual, modern look. It may be in danger of looking a tiny bit childish – the big red rosette at the top with ‘blog’ in lower-case – and it reminds me a little of the plasmid logos from Bioshock; but it’s clear and pleasant to use, and despite not having lots of time to spare, I think I’m quite likely to keep going back.
If you’re interested in keeping abreast of what TNA is doing generally, they offer a monthly email newsletter, which is how I learned about the new blog in the first place.
Photo by Nick Cooper, 2007, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0