Whether an archive’s user base is primarily that of visitors, distance users, or a balance of the two, the ability to utilise services remotely is a vital part of an archive’s offering.
The Distance Enquiry Services Survey asks for feedback from users that contact archive services by email or letter. Survey questions relate to the purpose of the enquiry, satisfaction with various aspects of the service, and demographic information. Along with the Visitor survey, it helps to produce a truer reflection of archive service users.
From September to November 2015, 55 record offices across England, Scotland and Wales participated in a Distance Enquiry Services Survey. The survey achieved 2,357 responses, an increase from 2,221 in 2013 and a near threefold increase from the 854 responses in 2012. Since 2013, an online platform has been used to conduct the survey, rather than electronic forms. This move has benefited both the archives, as they have had less to do administratively, and respondents, as it is far easier to complete an online survey than a form distributed by email.
It was encouraging to find that a fifth of respondents to the survey were from outside of the UK and, except for Antarctica, were spread across every continent. 14% of respondents lived outside of Europe. This could tie in with the fact that just under half of respondents said that they were too far away to visit, and demonstrates that many archives users are reliant on distance services. It was also worth noting that respondents to this survey were more likely to have some form of disability or condition compared to the 2016 visitors to archives survey (21% distance and 17% visitor).
Furthermore, 95% of respondents said they were satisfied with the record office overall. While satisfaction with services were generally up compared to the 2015 survey, there is some room for improvement in relation to archive websites, including “ease of navigation to the website” and “our website”.
This year’s survey window opens on Monday, 4 September 2017 and closes on Sunday, 26 November 2017. This window provides flexibility as to when the survey can take place, and will allow archives to achieve sufficient response numbers for statistical validity.
To find out more, please contact us at E: firstname.lastname@example.org. Archives will be able to start registering for the survey in June 2017.