All branches of the Suffolk Record Office operate under the County Archive Research Network (CARN) scheme, and to look at documents you will need a CARN reader ticket. These can be issued on your first visit, after providing suitable proof of identity. The CARN card can be used in any participating Record Office in the UK.
NEWS ITEM: The “County Archives Research Network” (CARN) access card scheme, which allows access to 68 local archives at the moment, is under threat, scheduled to close on 30th November 2018—
The current CARN card scheme has been operated and subsidised by the Archives and Records Association for many years but now has a number of problems and requires updating. These include data protection weaknesses, inability to provide electronic management information of usage, and security: e.g. a lack of user photo to permit proper identification of cardholders when they visit an archive.
A new self-funding scheme — called the Archives Card — which will incorporate user identification and “smart” technology has been developed and backed by around 40 local authorities — but, unless more (at least 20) local authorities sign up to the scheme before 31st May 2018, it will not be financially viable and will not happen. It is then likely that each authority will end up introducing its own local scheme with no shared access arrangement. Some authorities may choose to keep recognising the old CARN cards, but they will not be able to verify cardholders after 30th November and that will be their own autonomous decision.
Family historians often have ancestors spread over a range of locations and find the existing multi-access usage arrangement useful. While nobody is likely to visit all 68 locations, many of us carry out research at three or four local archives and value being able to use a single card to do this, rather than needing to carry passports, driving licences and utility bills on each research trip.
Having a single scheme which allows access to a multitude of local archive sites benefits us all. The cost of the proposed new scheme is not huge – we understand that sign-up costs are about £630 per partner organisation and an ongoing annual service charge of about £430 will apply to each partner organisation. The ARA have put the new scheme out to competitive tender and secured significant sponsorship, which has enabled them to offer the best-value option.
NEWS ITEM: National Lottery funding approved for ‘The Hold: A Suffolk Archives Service for the 21st Century’ — read more about it here.
In January , Suffolk County Council announced plans to replace the record office based at Lowestoft Library with an unmanned access point by the end of 2019, and move the archives currently stored there into a multi-million pound facility in Ipswich. The current record office in Clapham Road South is not considered to be sustainable, because its basement is prone to flooding and damp hazards, and mould growth — whilst fire resistance is not up to the current standard. Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Tony Goldson, said the safeguarding of archives was the key concern.
Following a campaign by the Save Our Record Office (SORO) group, with a petition that accumulated over 7,000 signatures, both Waveney District Council and the County Council discussed the issue at their meetings in mid-July, after which they agreed to set up a joint scrutiny committee. You can read newspaper reports at http://www.lowestoftjournal.co.uk/news/record-office-closure-to-be-scrutinised-1-5615148 and at http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/waveney-and-suffolk-councils-to-form-joint-scrutiny-over-lowestoft-record-office-closure-plans-1-5618316.