Friday 9 February 2024

National Archives of Ireland: Reading Room open hours updated

If the headline above gets you excited, please take a moment to downsize your expectations.

Yesterday saw the start of a new opening timetable for the Reading Room at the National Archives of Ireland. At least, I think that's the case.

Home page of the National Archives of Ireland (my blue circles)

The NAI's website isn't sure, and if you phone the Bishop Street offices for clarification, you'll hear a recorded message* that doesn't seem aware of any change. According to the message, the opening hours are Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm, with a one-hour shutdown (and 'everyone out' rule) from 1pm to 2pm.

However, if you explore further on the website – and you really shouldn't have to – you might be intrigued by a new notice on the home page declaring the Reading Room semi-open across the 1pm to 2pm period on Mondays.

This will allow reserchers to continue their work without having to leave the building. No materials can be requested and no real service will be provided during that hour, but you won't have to interrupt your research.

Remember: Mondays only. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, out into the cold you go.

I suppose offering the opportunity of one nearly-full-day-of-research-a-week is better than none, but c'mon, this is pretty rubbish, isn't it? We're talking about the National Archives, not a weeny heritage centre staffed by volunteers on some remote Atlantic view peninsula.

The fact that this one extra hour of uninterrupted research will be available each week is positive, if measly. And if someone at the NAI updates the website and recorded message, pronto, maybe next week some researchers may even know to take advantage of it. Otherwise, that member of staff working the lunch hour shift will be eating his/her sandwiches in an empty Reading Room.

*The recorded message works hard. It seems to kick in no matter what time of day you call. No humans available, it seems. Contact is by email only. This is shameful. It also made me cranky this morning.