Friday, 25 March 2016

PRONI public consultation on services and fees changes begins

As I have been reporting from recent stakeholder forum meetings of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (, the Belfast based national archive has been planning to run a consultation on proposals to update existing legislation which deal with admission to PRONI, the amounts of fees to be laid by the Office, and security of the documents. Amongst the positive developments that are envisaged and proposed are the ability to do self-service photography at the facility in the reading rooms (without the use of flash), as well as several revisions to currents fees order, and T&Cs for users.

These changes will entail some changes, not least a code of conduct form to be signed recognising responsibilities as a PRONI user on visits. The suggested wording for this is as follows:

Code of Conduct
This code has been issued under rule 4.
Principles of Conduct
I declare that:
(1) I will display my Visitor Pass at all times, and produce it when requested by a designated officer.
(2) I will undertake instruction as required by the Deputy Keeper in how to handle documents.
(3) I will safeguard the documents issued to me and handle them carefully.
(4) I may bring any of the following items when using the search room or reading room:
i. one clear plastic bag or document wallet;
ii. pencils;
iii. paper or a notepad; iv. a laptop or tablet;
v. a mobile phone; and
vi. medication required for emergency use.
(5) I will not use flash photography in the search room or reading room.
(6) I will avoid making unnecessary noise in the search room or reading room. My mobile phone(s) will be switched off or set to silent mode before entering the search room or reading room.
(7) I will not remove any original documents from the reading room.
(8) I will extend respect and courtesy to others in the Office.
(9) I will follow the health and safety requirements of the Office.

To facilitate the ability to use self-service photography, a copyright disclaimer form is also being proposed, placing the burden of awareness of copyright issues on the user:

Copying and Copyright Declaration
This declaration has been issued under rule 5(4).
I declare that:
a) Materials made available by the Office are governed by UK Copyright Law (Copyright, Design & Patents Act 1988).
b) I understand that ‘the copy’ as designated below relates to a copy made by me or supplied to me, whether hard-copy or digital, of the material or part thereof referenced; and that a copy supplied to me will be treated as if I had made the copy myself.
c) I will not use the copy except for private study or research for a non-commercial purpose and will not supply a copy of it to any other person. I understand that should I, at a later date, wish to reproduce or publish the copy in print, online or via any other media, I will first seek the permission of the Deputy Keeper; and that it is my responsibility to ensure copyright is not infringed.
d) I will not make or request a copy of a work which has been published prior to deposit in the archive and where copying would be in breach of copyright, or where copying has been prohibited by the depositor or copyright owner, without first obtaining the necessary permissions.
I understand that if the declaration is false in a material particular, the copy shall be an infringing copy and that I shall be liable for infringement of copyright.

Self-service copying looks to be reduced to 25p per page (I think it is 30p at present), and various new fees and revisions for other services are also discussed.

PRONI already has an excellent scanner in the reading room which wonderfully resembles something out of Star Trek (and which thankfully no longer imposes a garish watermark that used to obscure documents being copied!). Self-service photography, however, will bring the institution into line with other UK national archives, namely The National Archives at Kew, and the National Records of Scotland (although there are some exemptions there on private deposits which cannot be photographed by users, only staff).

The consultation document or this is now available online at The consultation began at noon on Thursday March 24th 2016 and will run until 9.00am Monday May 23rd 2016. If you are a PRONI user, please do respond to the consultation.

(With thanks to Stephen Scarth at PRONI)


For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit My Pinterest account is at

1 comment:

  1. The copyright statement is similar to many used in other archives. The Code of Conduct is worded like a binding contract - rather extreme, I think. What about a similar statement from PRONI about the service THEY will provide the customer? Or does this already exist (in detail)?