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, May 2018: 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.
UPDATE: ANNOUNCEMENT MADE ON 10th AUGUST 2018
The Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) today announces the development of a new Archives Card for England and Wales, having secured the commitment of 41 public and private bodies that will make the project financially viable.
The new Archives Card will enable local researchers to use one personalised card to explore the richness and variety of local archives and record offices from Northumberland to Dorset, and Ceredigion to Norfolk. The new Card will take six months to develop and will then require a short period for testing and ensuring that the required equipment and materials are dispatched to participating services. It will then launch formally in April 2019.
The new Card will be free to individuals who register for it online. Registration and applications will start in 2019. The ARA will announce details on precisely when — and on how — to do this later this year. We will pass this information on (including in the Newsletter) when it is available.
You can see more information on the new scheme here. Amongst others, the Record Offices of Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex have all committed to the ARA Archives card.
... BUT SUFFOLK "DO DIFFERENT" ... [to borrow a Norfolk expression!]
Suffolk Record Office has not signed up to the new Archives Card. Instead, they are currently developing their own readers’ ticket to replace the CARN system. Their new website has a function which enables them to produce a Suffolk Record Office ticket, which is under development with Suffolk County Council IT support. CARN tickets will continue to be accepted until the new system comes into operation. We will keep you posted on the progress of this alternative initiative here and in our Newsletter.
NEWS ITEM, April 2018: National Lottery funding approved for ‘The Hold: A Suffolk Archives Service for the 21st Century’ — more here
In January , Suffolk County Council [had] 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 Hold, mentioned above]. 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 [Suffolk] 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. ]
Visit the Friends of Suffolk Record Office for information on recent acquisitions, their Newsletter or joining them as a member.