Friday, 6 January 2012

Analysing the old; preparing for the new

Happy New Year to all of our readers!

As we’re busy preparing for another packed year at LHSA, it’s also a time when we reflect on the previous year’s achievements and prepare the annual report; this includes gathering and analysing statistics. This week, I have been looking back through the enquiries database to quantify and describe the number and types of enquiries received last year.

In 2011, we received nearly 600 requests for information from countries all over the world including Canada, South Korea, Sweden, and the USA, as well as the UK and Ireland. The largest proportion originated from family history researchers, although this was down from around 50% in previous years to 31%. Unsurprisingly, nearly 20% were made up of history of medicine or health enquiries, often from academics, ranging from undergraduates through to professors. There continues to be a high level of interaction with colleagues in both the NHS (often seeking information from old records), and those in other archives and libraries requesting archival and conservation advice. 12% of requests were for access to records in our reading room where our readers viewed nearly 1,300 items and our busiest months coincided with hectic times in the academic calendar: January to March and October. For the third year running, our most popular collection was the Royal Edinburgh Hospital which is heavily used in academic and genealogical research.

MacKinnon House at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital: records remain popular
As the signs are that 2012 will continue to see a high demand for our collections, these statistics from 2011 will help shape our work, such as cataloguing priorities, for the coming year.

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