Thursday 19 May 2022

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland: Digest of Statistics 2020/21

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has released its annual Digest of Statistics for 2020/2021 (April to March). As you'd expect, the Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the operation of the Belfast repository, with access to physical collections restricted and staff adapting to new ways of working while continuing to deliver archival services. The majority of PRONI staff were not working on site on a full-time basis, in line with social distancing measures.

To download the 19-page pdf of the Digest, click the image right.

Here are some of the main statistics:

PRONI main catalogue: 2,724 new items were added.

PRONI e-catalogue: 15,161 new items published. The searchable database now holds more than 1.5million item descriptions and received 1,692,456 searches during the year.

PRONI online archives: The most popular online collection – Will calendars – received 2,313,448 searches. The second most popular, Valuation Revision Books, was searched 1,158,319 times. Figures for other collections were Name Search (543,126), Street Directories (519,173), Ulster Covenant (204,815) and Freeholders (127,467).

Visitors (in-person): In the five years to April 2020, annual visitor numbers had averaged some 4,200, with the highest number - 4,797 - in the 12 months before the first Lockdown. With the doors closed to the public for much of 2020/2021 year, only 536 visitors were able to use of the Search and Reading rooms. It was not possible to facilitate the registration of new visitors for most of 2020/21; just nine new visitors were registered. There were 2,757 documents requested and produced. While the tightest restrictions were operating, all orders for records were placed by staff in advance, to facilitate quarantining of the records.

Virtual events: 47 virtual events were held in 2020/2021 and attracted 4,888 members of the public.

Online presence: PRONI's website received 9.2 million page views. The repository has 5,803 followers on Facebook; 1,170 followers on Instagram; and 2,350 followers on Twitter. During the 12-month period, 20 additional talks were joined PRONI’s YouTube channel. The most popular videos for the year were: ‘Leisureworld’ (6,745 views); ‘Irish Language & Culture, History of the Irish Language’ (4,482 views); and ‘The Hidden History of Protestants the Irish Language’ (3,973 views).

PRONI Image Gallery: Some 219 photos from the archives were added to the photo-sharing website Flickr during the year, making a total of 3,463 photos publicly available to view. The Flickr collection received 1,801,320 searches. The collection D4069, which contains photographs taken by various Rural District Councils between 1959 and 1964 for the production of official guides and publications, was also added to PRONI's image archives.