The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland have installed a public access digital capture book scanner, the book2net Kiosk, as part of their new record office, which befits PRONI’s position as one of the three National Archival Institutions in the United Kingdom, and provides larger and better facilities for the access of PRONI’s records.
We spoke to Head of Public Services, Stephen Scarth, on the impact of incorporating this modern way of digital capture and the benefits the Kiosk has to their users.
What is the history behind PRONI?
The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) is the official archive for Northern Ireland. It aims to identify and preserve records of historical, social and cultural importance and make them available for the information, education and enjoyment of the public. While PRONI is the official place of deposit for public records in Northern Ireland, it also collects a wide range of archives from private sources. PRONI also advises on and promotes best practice in both the preservation of archives and records management to ensure that today’s records will be available for future generations.
Located in Belfast, PRONI was established under the Public Records Act (1923), (shortly after the formation of Northern Ireland in 1921) It now operates as part of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) within the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS).
PRONI holds literally millions of documents that relate chiefly, but by no means exclusively to Northern Ireland. They date largely from c.1600 to the present day (with a few dating as far back as the early 13th Century).The oldest document in PRONI is a Papal Bull dating to 1219, while the oldest volume is found in the Armagh Diocesan archive dating to the late 15th Century. PRONI also contains its own library which was created shortly after PRONI was established with the oldest published volume dating to the mid 18th century. Each year PRONI receives over 17,000 visitors who consult in excess of 100,000 documents.
What is the nature of the service you provide?
We provide a scanning service for our customers and our staff. Prior to the launch of the Kiosk, PRONI provided flatbed scanning up to A3 and overhead scanning to A0. We wanted our customers using the Kiosk to have the option of being able to capture images for themselves.
How did you come across the Kiosk?
We found out by internet research, liaising with other institutions and discussions with potential suppliers.
What did you like about the Kiosk?
We are particularly impressed with the speed of the scan and the quality of the scanned image.
What is the Kiosk being used for?
The Kiosk is used primarily by PRONI’s customers scanning original manuscripts, typescript documents, small maps, volumes, photographs and books.
How has the Kiosk enhanced your efficiency I productivity?
The Kiosk has freed up staff time in that members of the public can now scan documents if they wish. It also has sped up the scanning process for our customers as they now have the ability to reproduce images from the documents they consult.
Genus would like to thank Stephen Scarth for his contribution in creating this case study.