Archive services – completing the picture


by Daniel Wake, CIPFA Senior Researcher

CIPFA helps to facilitate two archive surveys: the Visitors’ Survey, which collects feedback from visitors using search facilities; and the Distance Enquiry Services Survey, which collects feedback from people contacting archives remotely. These surveys have been utilised by multiple archives across England, Scotland and Wales, and the results have contributed to national reports on service usage and satisfaction. Findings from the reports include the following:

  • In 2014 nearly half of all Visitor Survey respondents (49%) visited the archive to undertake family history research.
  • In addition to visiting the archive, 50% of 2014 respondents were also doing something else in the area that day, clearly demonstrating the economic benefits that archives bring.
  • For the 2015 Distance Enquiry Services Survey, 19% of respondents lived outside of the UK, which shows that people from all over the world are utilising archive services.

However, archive search facilities and distance enquiry services form only part of the overall service offering. To complete the picture, CIPFA, in collaboration with the Archives and Records Association (ARA) Surveys Steering Group, has been considering ways to gain feedback from archive visitors that attend events. This survey is likely to include questions relating to the venue, the event, and learning outcomes. Planning is at an early stage, however we will be asking archives if they would like to pilot the survey in the new year.

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